On the Encyclical:
1) Towards the end of yesterday's General Audience, Pope Francis declared that this upcoming Encyclical "places itself in the line of the Church's social doctrine." (Source.)
2) As already widely reported by Catholic media since yesterday, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has been appointed as an Ordinary Member of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.
Granted that nonbelievers opposed to particular aspects of Church teaching have been appointed long before to this Academy, this particular appointment remains highly unusual due to the radical and the clear anti-natalist, anti-life implications of the appointee's public statements.
3) Also widely reported for the past few days, is the inclusion of Dr. Carolyn Woo, CEO and President of Catholic Relief Services, among the presenters for the Encyclical Laudato Si later today. Many of our readers are likely aware of the ambivalence of her policy regarding collaboration with pro-abortion and pro-contraception agencies.
On the Synod:
1) It was announced on June 17 that the Instrumentum Laboris for Synod 2015 will be published on June 23, Tuesday. A press conference will be held on the same day, with three presenters: Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; Card. Péter Erdő, who will serve (just like last year) as the Relator of the Synod, and Archbishop Bruno Forte, who will serve (just like last year) as Special Secretary of the Synod. Our readers will be well aware that Cardinal Baldisseri was behind much of the murky goings-on in last year's Synod, while Archbishop Forte was the author of the midterm relatio's section on homosexuality. Of course, both prelates have not been removed from their positions.
The Instrumentum Laboris was put together and revised by the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops during a 2-day meeting from May 25-26, chaired by Pope Francis himself. According to the May 26 Vatican Bollettino:
"...the Council closely examined the plan for the Instrumentum laboris resulting from the Relatio Synodi of the Extraordinary Assembly, integrated with numerous contributions provided by the answers to the questions included in the Lineamenta sent by the Episcopal Conferences and other competent entities, as well as the many contributions received by the Secretariat General from various ecclesial bodies and individual faithful. An extensive and detailed study of the text has generated proposals and contributions for its integration and improvement. The text, thus revised and shared by the members of the Council, has been entrusted to the Secretariat General for its final redaction, translation in various languages and publication, which will take place in a few weeks' time."
We will know in a few days if the integration into the "Instrumentum laboris" of the "numerous contributions provided by the answers ... sent by the Episcopal Conferences and other competent entitites" means that elements from the German and Swiss answers to the Lineamenta questionnaire have found their way into what will be the guiding document for Synod 2015. Or if the Shadow Synod that took place at the same time managed to influence it.
2) On June 16, Pope Francis approved a third batch of episcopal delegates elected by their peers to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops to be held in October of this year. Aside from the African and Polish delegations (the latter including the redoubtable Archbishops Henryk Hoser and Stanisław Gądecki), there are other delegates who can be expected to firmly uphold traditional Church teaching on communion for the "divorced and remarried" such as Cardinal Collins of Toronto, Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio SJ of Mayagüez, and Cardinals Scola of Milan and Bagnasco of Genoa (part of the Italian representation).
However the Pope also ratified the inclusion of Bishop Johan Bonny among the delegates. Due to his heterodox position on moral issues his inclusion among the delegates is already causing expressions of perplexity even on Catholic websites that so far have resisted criticizing the current pontificate. Bonny joins the small but high-profile list of liberal-leaning and already-approved delegates to this year's Synod such as Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco OP of Oran (Algeria); Shadow Synod participants Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey of Sion (Switzerland), Archbishop Georges Pontier and Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin of France, and the three German delegates (Cardinal Marx, Archbishop Koch and Bishop Bode); Cardinal Mario Poli of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin (Ireland), and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster (England & Wales).
If there is anything that Church history in the last 55 years teaches us, it is that a determined minority of bishops with support from the highest levels can force through unheard-of changes in the Church. While Synod 2014 was overall a defeat for the Kasperites, around 30% of the delegates then turned out to be supporters of the Kasper proposal and over half were open to radical proposals. Therefore we have every reason to be concerned over every liberal appointment to the Synod hall.
We haven't even seen the direct papal appointments yet.
3) Barefaced attempts to whitewash the events of Synod 2014 are yet again underway from the usual suspects. Yesterday, the Catholic News Agency published an article ("Top US bishops unwavering in support of traditional marriage ahead of Synod") that completely distorts what happened last year:
An incorrectly translated relatio document, as well as skewed media coverage and news of the “Kasper proposal” during last year’s Extraordinary Synod led to confusion among some Catholics about the purpose and practical effects of the Synod on the Family.
"Incorrectly translated"? "Skewed media coverage and news"? Do they think we are that stupid? That our memories are that short? The excuse that the only thing wrong with the midterm relatio was its translation, is beyond contempt. Or perhaps they think that Cardinal Müller, Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Pell, Bishop Athanasius Schneider and a whole host of distinguished prelates and theologians who have attacked the relatio are merely idiots who could not understand Italian and panicked on the basis of secular media reporting...