The charges of schism being thrown around are getting a bit ridiculous. Let’s chat, shall we?
First, what ISN’T schism.
Schism isn’t a dislike for the Holy Father’s leadership style. Schism is not questioning things put forth in a “working document.” Schism is not asking people to pray and fast that the crud put forth in a working document never sees the light of day in any final document proposed by the Church. Schism isn’t asking the Holy Father to make clear the teaching put forth in a document (i.e., the dubia). Schism isn’t wishing the Holy Father would never speak again to reporters on a plane. Schism is not EWTN reporting on Catholic news. Schism is not Archbishop Vigano putting out his testimony. Schism isn’t even asking the Holy Father to resign. Schism isn’t a critique of how the Vatican or Holy Father is handling the abuse scandal. Schism isn’t supporting Archbishop Vigano’s request for an investigation into the whole McCarrick debacle.
I’ve seen some ridiculous half-wit “theologians” suggesting that pretty much anyone who disagrees with THEM is schismatic. They seem to think that if they bandy the word around enough, the “uneducated masses” will be whipped into submission by the mere thought of it. They even put forth the question to the Holy Father on a plane (who, by the way, said there was no schism at this time) and got him to say the word which, somehow, is supposed to give their charges validation. “A-ha! The pope said the word so you are in schism!” WRONG!
Let me give you a little list of all the people who have been charged with schism by the liberal Catholic elite. Let’s see, Archbishop Vigano, for sure; Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Strickland of Tyler, and Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, because they were three of MANY bishops who said the charges made by Archbishop Vigano should be investigated; Cardinals Burke and Brandmueller, because they dared to ask the Holy Father for clarification in their dubia; Archbishop Schneider, because he and Cardinal Burke asked people to pray and fast before the synod, because of the pretty awful stuff is being discussed. (Prayer and fasting – the horrors! How dare they?!) I guess all of EWTN can be counted, too, because Raymond Arroyo dared to defend himself when a book about how EWTN was trying to overthrow the Holy Father was glorified on a flight. Oh, and EWTN, again, for broadcasting a Mass where the priest giving the homily said that the faithful was being asked to pray and fast before the upcoming “Amazon Synod.” I’d love to know what they are scared of. You want to fast and pray for me? Please do. And, of course, there’re all those mean Catholic bloggers, radio hosts, commentators, etc., who are scratching their heads about some things the pope says. Yep, all are in schism, it seems, except those who want to change any Church teaching that doesn’t jive with their ideologies.
So, who are all the people declaring or suggesting schism? Thomas Reese, SJ, Massimo Faggioli, Dawn Eden Goldstein, Michael Sean Winters, and all of their ilk. And don’t forget, the “Well, I didn’t say they were in schism. I’m just retweeting something I thought was interesting!” crowd. (Yes, Fr. Martin, I mean you.)
The actual definition of schism found in Canon 751 goes like this:
Schism is the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him.
Ironically, none of the accusers are canon lawyers, but they accuse a good canon lawyers to be in schism. Let’s see, who knows Canon Law better?
The other thing I find totally ridiculous, especially after this week, is that not one of these accusers has pointed toward Germany. In fact, I failed to locate one story at National catholic Reporter on this as of this writing. If it exists, their search engines don’t work. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/marx-says-german-synod-will-proceed-despite-vatican-objections-82211 Why is this? This is a hell of a lot closer to schism (if not actually in schism) than anything else to which the NcR, America Magazine, or Commonweal types point. I mean, the German bishops were told by the Magisterium that their “binding synodal path” was “not ecclesiologically valid.” Their response? We’re doing it anyway. Who’s removing “submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him” again? Apparently, Cardinal Marx.!
Does anyone see the difference in asking the Holy Father to exercise his authority (a la the Dubia 4, Archbishop Vigano, etc.) and rejecting an instruction from the Magisterium as the Germans are doing? The faithful Catholics are appealing to the very authority they should, while the Germans are usurping authority they don’t have. American schism, my foot! The liberals pushing for a declaration of schism are the biggest hypocrites around. Not one of the faithful listed above and accused by the liberals has ever rejected the authority of Pope Francis. In fact, they’ve made request upon request to the Pope to clarify. To top it off, not even Pope Francis has declared them such. So, not only are the liberal accusers actually willing to reject authority when it suits them, they are also willing to usurp authority where they have none. They need to give it a rest, but sadly, they won’t.