New Book Warns of ‘Revolutionary’ Threat Posed by Synod on Synodality

Utilizing a question and answer format, the book’s authors argue the synodal process is rehabilitating old heresies and imposing a harmful radical progressive agenda on the Church.

New book with foreword written by Cardinal Raymond Burke entitled: 'The Synodal Process Is a Pandora's Box.'
New book with foreword written by Cardinal Raymond Burke entitled: 'The Synodal Process Is a Pandora's Box.' (photo: Courtesy photo / American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property)

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Raymond Burke has congratulated the authors of a new book aimed at exposing the dangers they say are associated with the upcoming Synod on Synodality — a process he describes as a “revolution” that is causing the Church “grave harm.”

In their book, titled The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box (it can be read free online here) and translated into eight languages, Julio Loredo de Izcue and José Antonio Ureta say the goal of their work, written in the form of a catechism of 100 questions and answers, is to denounce the “imminent danger of building a new Church, different from the Catholic Church as it has always existed.”

The authors are senior members of the Brazilian Plinio Correa de Oliveira Institute, a Catholic association that seeks to defend the pillars of Christian civilization threatened by de-Christianization in the West. 

Loredo and Ureta view the Synod on Synodality, a three-year process that began in October 2021 and will conclude with two general assemblies in Rome (the first on Oct. 4-29 and the second next October), as a “revolutionary” process that “takes up old heresies repeatedly condemned by the magisterium.”

The Vatican has billed the entire process, convened under the theme For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission, as an opportunity for the Catholic Church to reflect on its own life and mission, and to discern how it can be more synodal, characterized by listening, dialogue, and participation. To achieve this, consultations have sampled opinion from the “People of God” at a diocesan, national and continental level with the overall aim of fostering a more inclusive, participatory, and missionary Church.

Loredo and Ureta assert in the book’s press release that a new, “synodal’” Church means a “democratic and participatory” Church that includes everyone, “particularly ‘marginalized minorities’ such as LGBT people, unmarried couples, people living in polygamous marriages,” and that is open for discussion of “women’s ordination to the priesthood, or at least the diaconate.”

The organizers, they add, “seek to reconsider Church doctrine on homosexuality and marriage and tamper with the Church’s form of government by transforming it into an ‘inverted pyramid’ whose top is beneath the base.”

And yet, according to the authors, “despite its potentially revolutionary impact” debate about the synodal process has been “limited primarily to ‘insiders,’ and the general public knows little about it.”

“It’s not a hidden agenda, because they’ve been making discreet references here and there about their goals, but it’s a discreet agenda,” Ureta told the Register Aug. 19. “Not even the bishops we have spoken with are aware of all that is at stake.” He said the authors’ intention, therefore, is “precisely to alert the hierarchy, the circles of the Catholic intelligentsia and the common faithful about the heterodox serpents and lizards inside the Pandora's Box that is being opened.”

In his Aug. 19 comments, Loredo said the synod is the work of radical minorities rather than, as Synod proponents contend, the work of the Holy Spirit, and that they are advancing the same proposals they have put forward since the 1960s. He also rejected the assertion that participation includes everyone and is the result of a broad consultation, noting that the involvement of the “People of God” has been “rather scarce: not more than 3%” and that all the synodal documents result from a “complicated bureaucratic mechanism of consultations between the Vatican, the bishops, some churchmen, and a minimal number of the faithful, usually on the progressive side of the board.”

In the introduction to The Synodal Process, they urge the faithful, in the face of the current situation, not to succumb to the temptations of sedevacantism, apostasy, or indifference. Instead they argue that “now is the time when Holy Mother Church needs loving and fearless children to defend her against external and internal enemies” as “God will hold us accountable.” 


A Revolutionary Threat

The 110-page book is divided into six chapters. In its introduction, the authors explain why they see this synod as posing such a revolutionary threat and say it “stands as a watershed in Church history, and specifically, in the current pontificate.” Quoting French Vaticanist Jean-Marie Guenois, they said Francis hopes to “turn the pyramidal, centralized, and clericalized Church into a more democratic and decentralized community.”

They warn of the potential precedent of the Synodal Way of the Church in Germany, which earlier this year passed motions approving of same-sex Church blessings, lay-preachers, and a push towards ending priestly celibacy. And they quote two former Anglican bishops who are now Catholics, Gavin Ashenden and Father Michael Nazir-Ali, and their experiences of how Church of England synods failed.

Additionally, Loredo and Ureta also argue that the Synod on Synodality “draws on ancient errors and heresies” such as conciliarism, which in the 15th century advocated reducing the Pope’s hierarchical power in favor of a conciliar assembly.

The synod promotors’ central intention, they say, is to “question the very structure of the Church” and their proposed change “is so radical that the Synod documents speak of ‘conversion,’ as if the Church has been on the wrong path and needs to make a U-turn.” They also quote Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who denounced such attempts to upend the Church’s hierarchy as “a delusion” that “would lack all legitimacy,” and that “obedience to it should be decisively and clearly refused.”

In the main body of the book, they seek to understand what synodality really means, whether its conclusions are binding, what the organizers really mean by listening, and the drawbacks and foolishness of relying on the “modern concept of listening.” 

In particular, they argue that “radical inclusion” is the key to understanding the Synod. They predict it will change Church structures and they quote EWTN canonist Father Gerald Murray who has said it will lead to the discarding of certain key moral teachings and instead “attempt to convince us that an embrace of heresy and immorality is not sinful but rather a response to the voice of the Holy Spirit.” 

Loredo and Ureta then extensively unpack the German Synodal Way and how they say it influences the universal synod. They point out anomalies in Pope Francis’ attitude to the German experiment, that his criticisms of it are more about method than its substance, and observe that no one has been punished for formulating heterodox propositions during the universal process.

Cardinal Burke’s Foreword

In his foreword to the book, Cardinal Raymond Burke, the prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, thanked all who have worked on it “so diligently and excellently to formulate the appropriate questions and to provide authoritative answers.” As well as the authors, members of the Traditional Family Property Catholic organization which is also connected with the Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute also contributed to the book.

He praised the publication for addressing “clearly and comprehensively a most serious situation in the Church today” which “rightly concerns every thoughtful Catholic and persons of good will who observe the evident and grave harm which it is inflicting upon the Mystical Body of Christ.”

“Synodality and its adjective, synodal, have become slogans behind which a revolution is at work to change radically the Church’s self-understanding, in accord with a contemporary ideology which denies much of what the Church has always taught and practiced,” Cardinal Burke wrote. “It is not a purely theoretical matter, for the ideology has already, for some years, been put into practice in the Church in Germany, spreading widely confusion and error and their fruit, division — indeed schism — to the grave harm of many souls.” 

He believes it is “rightly to be feared that the same confusion and error and division will be visited upon the universal Church” and has “already begun to happen through the preparation of the Synod at the local level.” Only the truth of Christ, unchangeable doctrine, and the discipline of the Church “can address effectively the situation by uncovering the ideology at work,” he said, “by correcting the deadly confusion and error and division it is propagating,” and by inspiring members to daily convert to Christ. 

Loredo and Ureta conclude the book by recalling how they are continuing the work of the founder of their institute, Plinio Correa de Oliveira, who denounced 80 years ago this year the widespread infiltration of neo-modernist and leftist errors in the Church. 

They add that “love the Church, the sacred hierarchy, and Christian civilization” compel them to denounce “the errors of this synodal reform.” 

They conclude by beseeching Our Lady “not to allow the disfigurement of her Divine Son’s Mystical Body” and “to hasten the restoration she promised at Fatima: ‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!’”