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The NICE Synod

Sinister undercurrents in the Moralistic Therapeutic Technocratic campaign within Catholicism, called the 'Synod on Synodality'
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It will not surprise you that I find the ongoing Synod on Synodality undertaken by the Catholic Church at Vatican instigation to be amusing at best. Why? In part because it's an epic exercise in navel-gazing. The West is in serious danger of being lost to Christianity, and the Vatican's idea of leadership is to bring everybody together to talk about getting together to talk. Plus, the whole thing seems to be a cynical exercise in which progressive men in charge manufacture popular legitimacy for the changes they want to make anyway. Besides which, it's total cringe. Behold, via the Vatican Cringe Factory, the felt banners of our time:

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What does any of that gobbledygook even mean? No human being talks like that, and if they do, they don't speak it in that horrible childish font, which creates a strange new respect for the dignity of Comic Sans.

Seriously, what does it mean to claim that "synodality is the way of being the Church today according to the will of God"? I mean, it's clear what this signifies: the people within the Catholic Church pushing this stuff are claiming the mandate of heaven. But it's truly radical ecclesiology. Take a look at the "working document" from the Asian synod, which is a sort of summing-up of the Synodal process so far. There's some good material in it, talking about real problems, but if you read deep enough into the document, you see that there's little or nothing in it about Truth, and repentance. It seems deeply driven by a desire to be more "inclusive" and "diverse" by casting aside Church teachings that are divisive -- that is, making the Church more "welcoming" by embracing a message that says what really matters is that we are all in this together. My impression reading it is that the Synod fathers are trying to turn the Catholic Church away from its role as the guide to one's ultimate destination, eternal union with God, but rather making being part of it the destination. The only invitation to change one's life that shows up in this document is to be more welcoming (but not, one senses, to the Latin mass Catholics).

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Buried way down, though, is this radical claim:

71. The synodal journey has brought out a number of tensions, made explicit in the preceding paragraphs. We should not be afraid of them, but articulate them in a process of constant communal discernment, so as to harness them as a source of energy without them becoming destructive: only in this way will it be possible to continue walking together, rather than each going their own way. This is why the Church also needs to give a synodal form and way of proceeding to its own institutions and structures, particularly with regard to governance. Canon law will need to accompany this process of structural renewal creating the necessary changes to the arrangements currently in place.

You see that? They want to change canon law to write the Synodal process into the Catholic Church's most basic governance. I'm certainly no canon lawyer, so I invite correction, but this seems to me to be a fundamental change in how power and authority work in the Catholic Church -- a Protestantization of it, frankly. I say that not to insult Protestants, please understand, but simply to note that what is being proposed here is massive. And they're sliding it in quietly, carefully.

Notice this too:

85. As has already been stressed many times, a synodal Church first of all needs to deal with the many tensions that emerge from encountering diversity. Therefore, a synodal spirituality can only be one that welcomes differences and promotes harmony, and draws from the tensions the energies to continue on the journey. To achieve this, it will have to move from accentuating the individual dimension to the collective dimension: a spirituality of “we,” which can enhance the contributions of each person.

This is poison. You can be sure that nobody running the Synod wants to "welcome differences" when it comes to making a space for those who prefer to worship in the old Latin rite. The Church's governing class says one thing, but practices another when it comes to those it has defined as its enemies. But the deeper problem is that the "Synodal" process is designed to demolish any claim that the Catholic Church teaches authoritative Truth. Again, I am no longer a Catholic, and I don't believe in the Catholic Church's claims for authority. But I respect them -- and I see what's happening here is a top-down demolition of authority, led by the Pope himself. It is the achievement of "harmony" by denying that there is any such thing as Truth to which one must submit as a Catholic Christian. The goat here is the Catholic who insists that what the Church teaches is true, and that those who dissent from it are living in falsehood. Now, there are better ways to do that than some, to be sure. But to leave someone to live in a lie is not charitable. The Church ought to call sinners to conversion. When, in my early twenties, I first approached the Catholic Church seeking conversion, I left the first parish whose RCIA program I'd enrolled in, because I knew it was touchy-feely fraudulence. I wanted to be called out of myself, to surrender to Christ, and to learn how to do that as a faithful Catholic. That RCIA program, I finally saw after several months, was 100 percent about affirming me in my okayness. I finally left, and went to a parish in the inner city, overseen by a grizzled old Irish priest, and asked for instruction. He said on our first meeting, "By the time I get t'roo with ye, ye might not want to be a Catlick, but ye'll know what a Catlick is." Thank you, Father!

A Christian church that gives up on the idea of repentance and deeper conversion, in favor of an "I'm okay, you're okay" approach to the Christian life, is not only betraying the Gospel, but is also suicidal. I only read the working document once, but I don't recall seeing a single time the word "sin" in it.

One more quote:

99. In the reports, the People of God express a desire to be less a Church of maintenance and conservation and more a Church that goes out in mission. A connection emerges between deepening communion through synodality on the one hand and strengthening mission on the other: being synodal leads into renewed mission. As the Spanish report says: “we believe that communion must lead us to a permanent state of mission: meeting and listening to each
other, dialogue, reflection, discernment together are all actions with positive effects in themselves, but they are not understandable if they are not directed at pushing us to go beyond ourselves and our communities of reference in order to carry out the mission entrusted to us as Church.”

OK, but "mission" to what end? They never say. There is nowhere in this long document a recognition that the Church has failed dramatically to catechize the younger generations, many of whom don't know what being a Catholic means, other than that the church they go to is affiliated with the Catholic brand. I have had so many conversations, both as a Catholic and an ex-Catholic, with Catholics who genuinely don't understand that being Catholic means accepting what the Catholic Church teaches is true, and striving honestly to conform one's spiritual and moral life to those truths. They hold that they can do whatever they want, and still be considered Catholic in good standing, because they're Catholics. It's an incredible thing to encounter, but it happens over and over and over. The Synodal process, then, strikes me as a way of formalizing the de facto indifference so many contemporary Catholics have towards the Truth proclaimed by their Church. In the Benedict Option arguments I've had with Catholics, they've cited Pope Francis's calls to "go to the margins" and the "peripheries" to do mission. Great, I say, let's do that -- but you can't give to people what you don't have. The Synod on Synodality process looks to me like it's blessing a process of inviting as many people as it can to come into the Big Tent of Catholicism, which exists for nothing beyond itself. To be clear, I don't think that's what the Catholic Church is supposed to be, or has been historically ... but that's what's happening now. The only people that the Synodal will not tolerate are those within the Catholic Church who insist that the Church stands for firm truths, and expects people to repent as part of the journey through life.

It seems to me that a revolution is taking place within the Catholic Church, and the revolutionaries are brilliantly working as democratic-therapeutic cadres formed by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion division of McKinsey Consulting. I call it the NICE Synod with reference to C.S. Lewis's evil institute in This Hideous Strength: the malign technocrats who plan to seize control of British institutions for the sake of "improving" life through therapeutic technologies.

The Synod on Synodality is both sinister and silly, but this dispatch from the Bangkok synod definitely lands on the sinister side. Take a look at this report from the Vatican News Service, on the final day of the Bangkok event:

In his third and final point, Cardinal Hollerich offered a synodal interpretation of the creation text. Rather than looking at the text as the creation of “man,” or “man and woman,” or the institution of marriage and the family, a “synodal interpretation of the text” is that “humanity” was created, he said. “We as Church are part of that humanity, and we are called to serve humanity. So, a synodal Church is a Church that is missioned by Christ, proclaiming the Gospel. And if we do not serve the world, nobody will believe in [our] proclamation of the Gospel.”

Cardinal Hollerich, who is running the global Synod process, earlier said that the Church's teaching on homosexuality is "false." You see where this is going. He is embracing a "synodal" interpretation of Genesis to erase the difference between male and female. Because as the felt banners tells us, God wills us to re-interpret Scripture and Church teachings this way. They're not even trying to hide it anymore. I see with this religious deception what the late Benedict XVI meant when he told my friend Vladimir Palko, in a 2015 letter, that "we see how the power of the Antichrist is expanding." According to Paragraph 675 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the coming of Antichrist will include "form of "a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth." Who am I to say that this is that deception? I'm not even a Catholic. But if this isn't part of that deception, then it gives us a good preview of what it's going to be like.

And then there is this, from the same Vatican News Report:

After a period of silent prayer, Father Clarence Devadass, member of the Discernment and Drafting Team, presented the updated draft response to the Continental Document under discernment and review. This new draft was compiled with the use of both AI and HI (Human Intelligence), Fr Devadass noted. In fact, the Asia Continental Assembly is the first of the Continental Assemblies to incorporate the use of digital technologies to gather the amendments and input from the participants. He then introduced all of the places in the first draft where amendments had been made.

Did you get that? The Synod on Synodality is turning to Artificial Intelligence to help it write documents calling on radical revision to Catholic faith, practice, and governing structures. One thinks of Paul Kingsnorth's chilling short story "The Basilisk," in which a character theorizes that malign discarnate intelligences -- evil spirits -- are using smartphones and related technology to conquer humanity. One also thinks of the warning Elon Musk gave about artificial intelligence:

"With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon," Musk said last week at the MIT Aeronautics anAstronautics Department's 2014 Centennial Symposium. "You know all those stories where there's the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he's like... yeah, he's sure he can control the demon, [but] it doesn't work out."

Musk was speaking metaphorically. I'm not sure that we should speak only in metaphor. The fact that Churchmen, working in what (despite claims otherwise) amounts to a revolutionary policymaking body in the Catholic Church, are turning to AI to help them produce policy documents is not the sort of thing that we should find comforting. It's all very NICE -- and that, as readers of That Hideous Strength well know, is the problem. And if you're wondering why us non-Catholics should care, bear in mind that the Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian church on the planet. What happens there affects us all.

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