Here is an extraordinary commentary by Cardinal Willem Eijk, the Catholic archbishop of Utrecht, and the primate of the Netherlands. I wouldn’t have expected something like this from a Dutch bishop, give how liberal that national church has long been, but it is very, very strong.

It addresses the situation in Germany, in which a majority of the German Catholic bishops voted to open communion to Protestants under certain conditions. A significant minority of German bishops balked. The controversy went to Rome, where the Pope told them to go back to the negotiating table.

Cardinal Eijk says this is preposterous, and explains why. He criticizes Pope Francis sharply for not doing his job. He concludes with this stunning passage:

The Holy Father should have given the delegation of the German episcopal conference clear directives, based on the clear doctrine and practice of the Church. He should have also responded on this basis to the Lutheran woman who asked him on November 15, 2015 if she could receive Communion with her Catholic spouse, saying that this is not acceptable instead of suggesting she could receive Communion on the basis of her being baptized, and in accordance with her conscience. By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered. This is also the case with cardinals who publicly propose to bless homosexual relationships, something which is diametrically opposed to the doctrine of the Church, founded on Sacred Scripture, that marriage, according to the order of creation, exists only between a man and a woman.

Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The Church’s ultimate trial

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”

Signs of the times, people. Signs of the times.