‘The Synod Process Is a Pandora’s Box’: A Cry of Alarm That Raises Hopes

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‘The Synod Process Is a Pandora’s Box’: A Cry of Alarm That Raises Hopes
‘The Synod Process Is a Pandora’s Box’: A Cry of Alarm That Raises Hopes

“Holy Father, this Synod is arousing much interest. Unfortunately, it also arouses a lot of criticism. I am referring to a book with a prologue by Cardinal Burke that says the Synod will be a Pandora’s box from which all kinds of calamities will come out for the Church. What do you think of this position? Do you think reality will overcome it, or will it condition the Synod?”

The question, addressed to Pope Francis by the well-known Spanish journalist Father Antonio Pelayo during his flight back from Mongolia, was about the recently published book by the TFPs and sister associations titled The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box: One Hundred Questions and One Hundred Answers. The book, written by Jose Antonio Ureta and me, explains simply and directly what is at stake in the upcoming “Synod on Synodality” Pope Francis has convened in Rome. A plan is afoot to reform the Holy Mother Church that could disfigure her divine constitution and distort her Magisterium.

Fr. Pelayo is a veteran correspondent who has covered ecclesiastical matters in Rome for several Spanish newspapers over three decades. His question shows the concern rife among many promoters of the so-called “synodal conversion of the Church,” who ask: Will the TFP book affect this process?

Get the book now! The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is now available for $10.95.
Click here to get your copy now.

Judging from the plethora of news reports and comments that have appeared around the world in the first week, as well as the countless reactions that have reached the authors and dozens of invitations to participate in radio and TV programs, we can safely say that the book has indeed begun to affect the Synod. The banter on the papal plane confirms this. Francis gave an evasive answer, urging people not to be afraid of doctrinal change. “If you go to the root of these ideas, you will find ideologies.According to the pontiff, Synod critics accuse the Church of this or that, but they never make an accusation of what is true: (it is made up of) sinners. They never speak of sin …”1

The TFP book, published in eight languages, immediately attained the best-seller category on online platforms. Amazon placed it first in the “Popes and Vatican” category. It was sent to all bishops and many pastors worldwide and forwarded to academic, religious and lay media. Many leading international press organs covered it, from the New York Times to the Washington Post to La Repubblica. Almost every prominent Catholic blog, not to mention social media, has reviewed it with swarms of comments. The book clearly has touched a raw nerve, a hidden yearning in public opinion that has found its outlet and erupted like a volcano.

Get the book now! The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is now available for $10.95.
Click here to get your copy now.

Under the titled, “A Rigged Synod: Here is The Synodal Process, a Pandora’s Box—a Book to Understand [the issue],” the well-known Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli commented that “A very useful book on the upcoming synod is arriving on the initiative of TFP, the Tradition Family and Property Association, an extremely useful book about the coming Synod.2 Marco Tosatti, another Vaticanist, reported in his article: “Synodal Process, a Pandora’s Box. TFP book, with Card. Burke.3 Many Italian Catholic news agencies spread the news, including Corrispondenza Romana, Messa in Latino, and Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. So did the secular press, including the newspapers of the Quotidiano Nazionale group.

The book has been enthusiastically received in the Anglo-Saxon world.

“Cardinal Burke Drops Bombshell on Synod of ‘Ideology’ and ‘Schism,’headlined The Catholic Herald, Britain’s leading Catholic weekly. The article by Diane Montagna aptly observed, The book’s release comes amid growing pushback in the media. On August 14, the French daily Le Figaro ran a lengthy and stinging front-page article by respected journalist Jean-Marie Guénois, accusing the Vatican of moving forward without truly considering the spirituality of French Catholics.”4

New Book Warns of ‘Revolutionary’ Threat Posed by Synod on Synodality,” wrote Vaticanist Edward Pentin in the National Catholic Register, the oldest Catholic periodical in the United States, now part of EWTN, the world’s largest Catholic journalism group. “The authors,” Pentin says, “seek to defend the pillars of Christian civilization threatened by de-Christianization.”5 For his part, writing in Church Militant, Vaticanist Jules Gomes warned, “Bombshell book blasts ‘revolution’ seeking to demolish Catholic Church.”6The term ‘synodality’ means ‘revolution’ in the Church, warns Cardinal Burke,” stated the German agency CNA.7

Get the book now! The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is now available for $10.95.
Click here to get your copy now.

Inevitably, the left showed its discontent. Iacopo Scaramuzzi’s piece in Repubblica, the organ Pope Francis chose to propagandize his ideas when Eugenio Scalfari was its director, is telltale: “Ultra-conservative pamphlet attacks Synod: They want to revolutionize the Church.Warning that “ultra-conservative Catholics are sharpening their weapons ahead of the fall synod assembly,Scaramuzzi writes: “The pamphlet, titled ‘Synodal Process: a Pandora’s Box,’ is published by the association ‘Tradition Family Property,’ an old acquaintance in the Vatican.8

In contrast, Austen Invereigh, Pope Francis’ biographer, chose X (the former Twitter) to denounce Cardinal Burke’s “anti-Synod cannonade” in the TFP book. Famille Chrétienne, the French version of the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana, also published a long article about it.9

It is impossible to list the hundreds of news stories that have appeared. From Washington to London, Buenos Aires to Paris, Manila to Dubai, and particularly in Italy, the book on the synod process is experiencing a success that has somewhat surprised everyone. What is the reason for such an explosion of interest? An article by Nico Spuntoni in Il Giornale may shed some light on this question.

Under the title “The Synod of Fears: An Air of Schism in Francis’s Church?,” Spuntoni writes: “The closer the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will last from October 4 to 29, 2023, approaches, the more tensions increase in the Church. … With just over a month to go before it starts, other prelates have begun to make explicit their fears about what might happen in the Church after the assembly.”10

Coincidence or not, the TFP’s book seems to have uncovered not a Pandora’s box but a cornucopia [of problems], bringing to the surface very profound feelings of the People of God (the real one) and encouraging many faithful. In a theological sense, we could almost speak of a propitious moment of grace.

Get the book now! The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is now available for $10.95.
Click here to get your copy now.

The book Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is not intended to present any new doctrine or expound its authors’ ideas but to recall traditional Church doctrine on the topics discussed. It is based exclusively on the official documents of the Synod of Bishops and the International Theological Commission and authoritative comments by cardinals and bishops. Finally, the book deals with well-documented facts known to all.

Therefore, the TFP book cannot be branded as “ideological” without clearly stating:

– Where the Catholic doctrines invoked are wrong;

– Where the concrete facts cited and documented are falsified;

– Which comments by cardinals, bishops, priests and scholars do not correspond to the truth.

The work is written in a spirit of reverent love for the Holy Mother Church and obeys Pope Francis’ oft-formulated call for “parrhesia” (candid speech). We do not understand why speaking with serenity, frankness and respect, based on official documents and proven facts, would be an ‘ideological’ maneuver.

Many commentators have highlighted the book’s serene tone and its clear intention to be always respectful and reverent toward authority in the Church. Why, then, such reactions? Allow us to formulate a hypothesis.

With the increasing circulation of this book and similar studies and statements, it is becoming clear in the eyes of the public that a large part of the “People of God” does not feel adequately represented in the synodal process’ bureaucratic ways and by many of its proposals.

The number of people consulted for the preparation of synod documents is derisory. In many cases, it does not exceed 2 percent of practicing Catholics. It has become clear that the Synod on synodality is almost exclusively the work of often radical minorities, who claim to speak for everyone. They say we must “walk together,” while the truth is that too many people were not even informed of this “journey…”

Get the book now! The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is now available for $10.95.
Click here to get your copy now.

Moreover, a significant part of Catholic public opinion is beginning to show disquiet at the excessive invocation of the Holy Spirit as a propeller of the synodal process. This invocation, made as it were in a definitive and final decree, seems to belie the excessive haste of progressive minorities to impose some largely debatable issues and other issues that the Church’s Magisterium has already closed definitively.

Suppose we add to this the synodal documents’ often hermetic language, understandable only to insiders. In that case, we understand how the real People of God feel “lost, confused, perplexed and even disappointed,” to paraphrase John Paul II.11

TFP’s The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box has come out precisely in this confusing and seemingly inexplicable situation.

By explaining what is at stake simply and directly, the book has put together the pieces of a puzzle. Based on statements by its leading advocates, the work made it clear that the synodal process is neither transparent nor spontaneous but yet another attempt to revolutionize the Church. Many of the faithful have felt mocked and have begun to raise their voices so that “[people] began to make explicit [their] fears about what might happen in the Church after the assembly.”12

The future is in God’s hands through the universal mediation of Mary Most Holy. However, one thing is certain: any attempt to change the Church’s divine constitution or infallible doctrine is hopeless, as Our Lord Jesus Christ founded the Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.


  1. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2023-09/pope-francis-mongolia-return-press-conference-synod-ideologies.html.
  2. Duc in Altum, August 21, 2023.
  3. Stilum Curiae, August 22, 2023.
  4. Diane Montagna, “Cardinal Burke Drops Bombshell on Synod of ‘Ideology’ and ‘Schism,'” The Catholic Herald, August 22, 2023. https://catholicherald.co.uk/pandoras-box-cardinal-burke-pens-foreword-to-book-denouncing-synod-on-synodality/
  5. Edward Pentin, “New Book Warns Of ‘Revolutionary’ Threat Posed By Synod On Synodality,” National Catholic Register-EWTN, August 23, 2023. https://www.ncregister.com/blog/new-book-warns-of-revolutionary-threat-posed-by-synod-on-synodality
  6. https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/top-cardinal-warns-of-synodality-a-pandoras-box.
  7. CNA Deutsch Nachrichtenredaktion, “Begriff Synodalität steht für Revolution in der Kirche, warnt Kardinal Burke,” CNA, August 23, 2023.
  8. Iacopo Scaramuzzi, “Ultra-conservative pamphlet attacks Synod: They want to revolutionize the Church,” Repubblica, August 23, 2023.
  9. “Le cardinal Burke critique vertement le Synode sur l’avenir de l’Église,” Famille Chrétienne, August 23, 2023.
  10. Nico Spuntoni, “The Synod of Fears: Air of Schism in Francis’ Church?” Il Giornale, August 27, 2023.
  11. Address to the religious and priests participating in the first Italian National Conference on Missions to the People for the 1980s, Feb. 6, 1981, in Teachings of John Paul II, Vatican Publishing, vol. IV, 1, p. 235.
  12. Nico Spuntoni, “The Synod of Fears: Air of schism in Francis’ Church?” Il Giornale, August 27, 2023.

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