Rorate Caeli

Eclipse of the Synod: New Catechism to Launch in Rome

Like the Latrocinium (“Robber Council”) of Ephesus in 449, the 2023 Rome phase of the Synod on Synodality is nearly over, and may already be safely consigned to the pages of Church history as the Vanitatum, “The Moot Synod.”

While millions have been invited to gaze in wonder at the dazzle of what essentially amounts to a giant ecclesiastical distraction, one expects that few have really been fooled: this Synod has imposed no Creed, defined no doctrine, reformed no discipline, and will produce no monuments to posterity apart from an interim “synthesis report”—the kind of predictably evanescent bureaucratica so gaseous as to warrant its use as a dirigible transport for the hapless Synod attendees, assuming it proves substantial enough to be printed (an aeronautic experiment which alone might justify the paper waste).

Despite this inherent vacuity, the historical context of the Synod itself should not be dismissed lightly; for, in addition to clarifying the revolutionary priorities of its arbiters, the Synod has unwittingly provided a stage for its own eclipse as well as for a triumph of orthodoxy.

I here refer to an event that will take place Thursday, October 26 at 6:00 pm local Rome time, just a stone’s throw from the Vatican colonnade. As recently announced, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and a host of other hierarchs and Catholic media outlets will be gathered at the Palazzo Cardinal Cesi for the international launch of Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith, an impressive new summary of Catholic doctrine for our time. (N.B. The event may be watched live here.)

Although its first English edition appeared months ago, there has been surprisingly little public reaction to the book as yet (though see my Substack article "Defending Bp. Schneider on Human Dignity" for a response to a particularly ill-informed critique from a band of online Circumcellions). One expects that will soon change.

The reason is quite simple. Catholics have long been seeking a complete, reliable, readable guide to Church teaching—one that has not swallowed the doctrinal ambiguities and innovations of the past half-century. Up until now, no such text has been forthcoming from a living and canonically regular bishop in over half a century; but here, as if on order, Credo appears as a book-length tour de force of concise, precise, and solidly Catholic doctrine.

This cannot be stressed enough: there is no systematic guide to Catholic faith, morals, and liturgy currently in print that affirms all that Credo affirms, or with the same unction and sensus Catholicus, while holding an imprimatur and a sub-fifty-year pedigree. Yet Credo has been published by a Catholic bishop in good standing, with an imprimatur and with the endorsement of bishops and clergy from several countries; making it an evident exercise of the ordinary magisterium of bishops—a “catechism for today”—that reads like a clear fountain of divine truth amid a desert of episcopal obfuscation and synodal senselessness.

As such, this book is monumental in every sense of the word. It will forever compel a comparison: either Credo articulates the authentic Catholic doctrine—that is, it is true—or it is not. Several bishops now publicly maintain, for all the world to see, that Credo does represent the authentic doctrine of the Church on faith and morals; they say that Credo is true.

To take just a small sampling of (currently controverted) truths they affirm:

• the 
“Catholic Church" is defined in classical terms, and emphasized as necessary for salvation
• “Ecumenism” as religious pluralism is flatly rejected
• Collegiality and synodality receive clear definitions
• The social kingship of Christ is asserted most strongly
• Various false religions (Islam, Buddhism, etc.) are condemned in toto
• Capital punishment is upheld as legitimate
• Environmental idolatry is condemned
• The rising health-technocracy is condemned, illicit medical products and all
• Globalist cabals are called out as “mortal enemies” of the Church
• Marriage is rightly defined and defended, with all its contraries refuted
• Unnatural inclinations get a truly charitable and pastoral treatment
• Dissident Catholics in public office are called to repentance
• The nature of the Mass is clearly and classically articulate
• “Rites of venerable antiquity” are endorsed and defended

Note well that none of the above is really anything new. In fact, Credo reads like any of the veteran Catholic catechisms of the past millennium, although including contemporary applications of the same timeless moral principles.

Therefore, if Credo is not true, then it demands official censorship from the Vaticanan act that will require its opponents to marshal a propositional demonstration of how Credo is manifestly in error concerning the Faith. Of course, this is something its opponents cannot do, as the book is simply “a guide to the changeless teaching of the Church.” To condemn Credo would thus be to affirm, in a public manner, that Church teaching has changed—at which point the faithful should respond with St. Paul: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal 1:8)!

And yet, if the revolutionaries leave Credo uncontested, they must tacitly affirm it as an authentic expression of Catholic doctrine, voiced by the ordinary teaching office of the living bishopric (how collegial, synodal, and decentralized!).

We may therefore return to our comparison. Does your priest, bishop, or pope believe the following teaching, expressed in the pages of Credo?

Are all religions, with their respective forms of worship, equally pleasing to God?
No. Only the religion established by God and fulfilled in Christ, with its divinely revealed worship, is supernatural, holy, and pleasing to God. All other religions are inherently false, and their forms of worship pernicious, or at least unavailing for eternal life.

Or again, would they affirm the following as the true Catholic doctrine, regarding a topic of more recent vintage?

What of the claim that our “sexual orientation” may not correspond to our biological sex?
The notion that God creates a disordered sexual attraction in some persons, or that He wills such feelings to be acted upon in some cases, is contrary to both reason and revelation, “for God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).

May a so-called “same-sex marriage” in civil law ever be blessed by the Church?
No. Any unions that have the name of marriage without the reality of it are not capable of receiving the blessing of the Church, as these are contrary to natural and divine law.

One could quote such passages by turning to any page of Credo. The contrast between perennial preaching and contemporary compromise has already given rise to a host of “memes,” as recently compiled by one blogger in amusing style here. After all, what could be more discordant than contrasting the enduring Faith of our Fathers with the passing doctrinal fancies of this age?

Revolutionaries have long shouted: “Get with the program, this is what the Church teaches now.” Now, with the appearance of Credo, every Catholic wishing to defend the authentic Roman doctrine may hold up this book and say the same: “This is what the Church teaches now, just as she always has.”

Despite the tremendous crisis through which the Church on earth is still passing today, and acknowledging the many miles left to travel in this vale of tears, the international launch of Credo offers a brilliant gleam of hope and cause for gratitidue. With the perspective of history, we may simply call this book what it is: a victory.