Nathalie Becquart is a member of the French order Xavière Sisters. estasblished in 1921, thus one hundred years old. The order is (to quote) ‘achored in the St Ignatius of Loyola’s Spirituality and rooted in his spiritual exercises’ (my translation.) I have had a look at their website.
From the description, you would think it a traditional female religious order. But the description of a traditional religious order is in stark contrast with the many photos of a joyous group of women in full colourful mufti – all smartly coordinated. Hardly a reflection of Ignatian spirituality, if your mind works according to usual associations, and if you have a traditional conception of the Ignatian exercises. But the person of Ms Becquart raises for me a far more chilling contrast than aspects of clothing.
Sr Becquart has recently been in Australia to talk about – or rather give a pep talk to followers of her very particular vision of the Church. Bergoglio appointed Becquart as one of two new undersecretaries for the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops. This is a powerful position in Begoglio’s ecclesial vision, so it’s useful to know Sister’s thoughts on the Church, synodality, and all that.
Well, we get an unambiguous view inside sister’s head in an interview she gave to Global Sisters Report: a Project of National Catholic Reporter. The interview is titled: Q & A with Sr. Nathalie Becquart: Upcoming synod could ‘turn a clerical church into a synodal church’.
Before entering religious life, Nathalie Becquart ‘studied economics and business and worked as a consultant in marketing and advertising.’ Such study and work experience may not be solid preparation for the life of a traditional religious sister, but it is overwhelmingly important to the political role Bergoglio has given her – that of plotting and manoeuvring to rupture the traditional church and glue the pieces back together in a totally different form. Adieu the abominable church of the clerics …
An important step in that grand rupture is her assignment to prepare the October 2022 Synod of Bishops, whose theme is: ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.’ For Becquart that means repairing the Church, an ‘institution in crisis, torn by divisions, scandals and doubts’ by (ostensibly) bringing all and sundry into its decision-making processes. I say ‘ostensibly’ because in the long-run all organizations seized by the left end up in the hands of the cunning few.
But you have to admire her brazenness. The divisions, scandal and doubts followed hard on the heels of the Second Vatican Council, whose documents were used as a pretext for action under the banner of a concocted council spirit.
I will resist the temptation to enumerate the major divisions and scandals. I will suffice in suggesting that the clerical abandonment of asceticism, the jettisoning of Catholic sexual morality, and the emptying of seminaries left to the occupation of active homosexuals were the preamble to the sexual abuse crisis.
‘Synodality’, says the former marketing and advertising consultant, means ‘discerning together.’ Does it, just? When fed the Dorothy-dixer about the difference between collegiality and synodality, the former business consultant favoured us with the following self-serving explanation:
‘In a technical sense, collegiality is for the bishops. The First Vatican Council emphasized the primacy of the pope, with the view that the bishops received their authority from the pope and have to approve what the pontiff decided. The church was conceived very hierarchical. The Second Vatican Council debated a lot this question of collegiality and concluded that the pope was not separate from the college of apostles and that power could be exercised together by the pope and the bishops.’
The primacy of the pope and the papacy predated Vatican I. The accursed clerical hierarchy had its origins in Our Lord’s own establishment of the apostles (12 plus 72) with Peter at the head. On my reading, Vatican II did not essentially change the position of papal primacy (in Lumen Gentium) despite the unconscionable attempt by the revolutionaries to fool Paul VI into authorising a radical form of collegiality.
The full story of their scheming, plotting, and double-dealing is set out in Fr Wiltgen’s THE ROME FLOWS INTO THE TIBER, republished recently under the anodyne title. THE INSIDE STORY OF VATICAN II. This was perhaps the most controversial episode during the Council, giving a view of the naked scheming and plotting of the left. Berquart continues:
‘Synodality, in today’s sense as emphasized by Pope Francis, who is calling for a synodal church, means that the whole people of God, who, by their baptism, are called to be actors, are to participate in discernment.’
That is, participate as full members, equal and undistinguished in position to the clergy. In other words, Bergoglio’s (and Becquart’s) conception of the Church is radical different from and in opposition to the Church of 2000 years. It takes mountainous pride to conceive of such a destructive plan. She continues:
‘Yes, the challenge is now to see pastors not separated from their people. Vatican II has made things move, has rediscovered the vision of Christians from the first centuries, when the governance of the church was synodal and collegial.’
This is more fantasy. Becquart’s idea of synodality and collegiality is rooted in modern (often Hegelian-type) philosophies and was not to be found in the Church of the first centuries. Furthermore, pastors were not separated from their people in the proper meaningful sense.
I grew up in the pre-Vatican II Church. Our parish in the 1950s was bursting with people and activity. The parish priest with his curate was right in there among the activity. That parish was like so many other thriving parishes that imploded after the introduction of the Novus Ordo, which had no direct mandate from the Council documents. Becquart continues:
‘Synodality is a fruit of the Second Vatican Council, a kind of rediscovery of a way of seeing the church first as people of God, people journeying together as pilgrims. What is complicated in the present situation is that we are in a transition phase, with two ecclesiologies that are colliding.‘
Becquart is just making this up. There was no such thing as synodality in general discussions at the time. Synod and synodality are words that have been recently conjured to serve to the faithful who are happy to be deceived. At least, she is right about the atomic collision of two ecclesiologies. She continues:
‘On one hand, we inherit from more than 1,500 years a hierarchical, clerical church where the clerics are separated from the laity. On the other hand, we can imagine a synodal church as described by the Second Vatican Council but which has not yet been received and implemented.‘
She is fantasizing. The hierarchy and the priesthood started with the appointment of Peter and the apostles. Again, total nonsense about the ‘clerics separated from the laity.’ In early Australia, for example, priests rode hundreds of miles on horseback to visit and minister to their parishioners. I would be happy to send her a copy of my book, PRISON HULK TO REDEMPTION: A HISTORY OF A CATHOLIC FAMILY PART ONE 1788-1900 to correct that misapprehension.
Let’s face it. What political operator Ms Becquart means when she talks about the separation of clergy and laity is that clergy are separated politically from the laity. All the ecclesial power (that is, political power) is conceived by Becquart and those like her as belonging to the clergy and not to the laity, particularly not to women like her. That concentration of power must be destroyed if she is to have a chance of becoming Ms Pope.
I would like someone to give me the reference to where the ‘synodal church’ was explicitly discussed in the Second Vatican Council documents. A ‘synodal church’ (as she understands it) does not appear in Lumen Gentium, which repeats the traditional relationship between pope and clergy, and between clergy and laity. Becquart should set aside some time to read that document.
When asked whether the creation of a ‘synodal church’ was ‘the great project of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the former advertising executive was disarmingly honest:
‘Yes, we can say that. Pope Francis was elected to advance the reform of the church. In a major speech to mark the 50th anniversary of synods, in October 2015, Pope Francis said, “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the church of the third millennium.” The synod could help us turn a clerical church into a synodal church…’
Surely Pope Bergoglio is obligated to present the evidence for God’s particular wish for the Church to follow the ‘path of synodality.’ Was it a private revelation? Or is Bergoglio guilty of the most enormous presumption. Are we to think that on Bergoglio’s saying God wishes us to follow the Vatican II path – the path of upheaval, disintegration, and heresies, a path that led to the implosion of thriving parishes around the world, the same path that spawned the sexual abuse crisis? Becquart gives a resounding yes:
‘I am convinced that the conversion of the church to the mission is a very important issue. We’ll find a way out of this crisis only if laypeople are involved. If we want to implement the ecological conversion that Laudato Si’ calls for and the fraternal world described in Fratelli Tutti, the church has to be synodal.’
Alas, it does not follow logically that synodality and the ‘involvement of the people’ are the exclusive way out of the crisis, even as conceived by her and her benefactor. I suggest the concrete empirical evidence of the last fifty-five years points the opposite way: return to strict Church discipline, restore the 2000-year-old Church structure, encourage old devotions, and take up the teaching of the authentic faith, the faith as it has ever been taught.
Nobody should be fooled by Becquart’s talk about ‘synodality’ or democracy in the Church. It will be the Catholic left (no different from the secular left) who decide what ‘deep listening’, ‘discernment’ entail once their program of synodality is rammed through. Nobody else will have a say. Indeed, the synodalists will likely erect a regime far more exclusive and tyrannical than the present Church hierarchy. That has been the example.