Settimo Cielodi Sandro Magister 

Sandro Magister

05 mar 19

From Santa Marta an Order Has Gone Forth. But Cardinal Bassetti Is Not Obeying



Italy is Pope Francis’s backyard, in addition to being his country of origin. And so it comes as no surprise that he should take a strong interest in the who and how of leadership at the CEI, the Italian episcopal conference.

This has been seen since 2013, when Francis imposed as secretary general of the organism the semi-unknown Nunzio Galantino, who essentially took over – strong as he was with the authority of his backer, the pope – for the president of the CEI at the time, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

It was seen again in 20015 at the general assembly of the Italian Church gathered in Florence, where Jorge Mario Bergoglio acted as absolute protagonist and where his trusted henchmen – Galantino himself, but also the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” – insisted on  demanding “a broad involvement of the people of God, in a synodal process not restricted to the élites of Catholic thought.”

Since 2017 the CEI has had as its new president Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, in whom Francis is showing he places more trust than in his predecessor, and since 2018 has had as its new secretary Bishop Stefano Russo in the place of  Galantino, who has in any case remained in the good graces of the pope, who has promoted him as president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

But even in this new configuration, Spadaro continues to act as the papal “longa manus.” And at the end of January of this year he must have crossed the line, seeing how the leadership of the CEI felt unjustly blamed.


Spadaro launched his attack with an article in “La Civiltà Cattolica” in which he again demanded “a synod for the Italian Church,”  implicitly accusing the leadership of the CEI of having “locked away in a cabinet” the “prophetic” speech that Francis gave at the conference in Florence, and of having fallen back into the “old forms of rhetoric” and into “clericalism.”

Settimo Cielo gave prompt coverage to all of this, in a post on February 7:

> Who’s In Charge At the Italian Episcopal Conference? The Hostile Takeover of Fr. Spadaro

As was natural, the presidency of the CEI did not take kindly at all to this hostile attack by Fr. Spadaro. But neither was it able to mount a strong immediate counterattack, given the proximity between Spadaro and the pope and their acting in concert.

Cardinal Bassetti made a first attempt in a subdued voice, in a conversation reported by “Avvenire” on February 10, to clarify that in the Italian Church a “synodal” process is already underway “from the bottom up,” for example in the construction of a “civic network” among Catholics involved in politics.

But meanwhile “Avvenire,” which is the newspaper of the CEI but even more the organ of Casa Santa Marta, on January 31 had republished in its entirety the article by Spadaro.

And on February 2, “L’Osservatore Romano” had played its part in the maneuver, with a front-page interview with Rieti bishop and former CEI undersecretary Domenico Pompili, who endorsed and reissued Spadaro’s proposal of a synod for the Italian Church.

Not only that. Even after Bassetti’s first subdued statement in his own defense, two other bishops, both fervent fans of Bergoglio, took to the field to give assistance to Spadaro.

The first, with a letter published in “Avvenire” on February 17, was Modena bishop and president of the CEI commission for the doctrine of the faith Erio Castellucci. Who, in addition to reiterating that “the time has come for a synod for the Italian Church,” took the opportunity to denounce the “short circuit seen in Italy a few decades ago when, after the fall of the ‘ideological’ parties, the bishops undertook a compensatory effort that ended up squashing the political initiative of the Catholic laity,” undermining in its own way the strategy for Italy of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

The second, with a letter published in the “Corriere della Sera” of February 18 on the editorials page entitled “A synod for Italy,” was Corrado Lorefice, appointed archbishop of Palermo by Bergoglio but also a disciple of the “school of Bologna,” a famous international coterie of progressive Catholic intellectuals.

Both Castellucci’s article and that of Lorefice were retweeted by an enthusiastic Fr. Spadaro, promptly receiving likes from Alberto Melloni, a Church historian and the current director of the Bologna institute, and Massimo Faggioli, his spokesman in the United States.

Curiously, however, neither Spadaro nor any of these figures who supported him in attacking the presidency of the CEI made reference to the most important initiative that the CEI itself has been planning for some time: an “Encounter of reflection and spirituality for peace in the Mediterranean,” which next year will gather in Bari the bishops of all the countries bordering on this sea, from Europe, Africa, and Asia.

It is an encounter conceived by Cardinal Bassetti in the wake of the “Mediterranean conversations” organized seventy years ago in Florence by a great figure of Italian political Catholicism, Giorgio La Pira, whose cause of beatification is at an advanced phase.

The presidency of the CEI has staked a great deal on this conference, and will certainly not be overjoyed to revolutionize its agenda to obey an article from “La Civiltà Cattolica.”

In fact, it is precisely to this encounter that Cardinal Bassetti referred in his second and much more resolute counterattack against the assault of Spadaro and company, on the front page of “L’Osservatore Romano” of February 27, in an interview signed by the director of the Vatican newspaper, Andrea Monda.

Cardinal Bassetti’s thought is summarized well in these final exchanges of the interview:

Q: The pope has spoken, since the conference of Florence, of synodality, which amounts to an invitation to take on a style to be maintained on all levels, from the parish to the CEI, structures that perhaps are to be reconsidered. To start this process, is it perhaps necessary to go through a concrete event, as for example a thematic synod for the entire Catholic Church?

A: That of the synod is a good idea, but it must be developed over time. At this moment it is fundamental to explore some criteria of synodality, and above all to prepare ourselves for the “Encounter of reflection and spirituality for peace in the Mediterranean” that will take place in February of 2020. A unique assembly of its kind, organized by the Italian Church, which will permit the encounter among the bishops of the countries that border the Mediterranean and which, above all, will employ synodality to foster ecclesial discernment on the problems and future of the entire region. The encounter in Bari, which takes its inspiration from an intuition of La Pira, will therefore be a concrete application of the synodal method to address several questions of great importance for Italy and Europe, as for example interreligious dialogue, peace in the Mediterranean basin, and international migration.

It remains to be explained why “L’Osservatore Romano,” in presenting this energetic clarification by Bassetti, should have given it such a drab headline: “The task and duty of Italian Catholics.”

And it also remains to be explained why “Avvenire,” the newspaper of the CEI, should not have reproduced the interview with its cardinal president online. And why on paper it should have furnished only a modest and hardly prominent summary, on the bottom of page 17.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sheepdog says:

    Veri Catholici says on Twitter

    “recognize that Bergoglio is saying outrageous things, things contrary to the Faith on a nearly daily basis WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT to recognize that Pope Benedict made a 1 word error in his act of resignation, which makes it invalid as per canons 332 §2, 188 & 38”. End quote.

    Bishop Gracida is the only Bishop, to my knowledge, that fully understands what the situation is regarding Francis the merciful. The other Bishops do not. Then you have Sedevacantists apostates who rightfully recognize that some of what occurred what Vatican II was an error. However, they (the Sedes) are heretics and apostates for many reasons. As it relates to Francis, if he is not the Pope, there is still another Pope that wears Papal Cassock, is addressed as Pope, and might still be the Pope!!!! The sedevacantist heretics have a hard time understanding this. They will probably not support Veri Catholici. Sedes will probably not support Bishop Gracida. Who cares. The sedes are apostates. They have no right to call themselves Catholic. I only bring this up because the Sedevacantists (1958) sometimes insert themselves into the Twitter and blog threads about Benedict being the real Pope.

    I humbly suggest that OnePeterFive, Church Militant, The Remnant, The Wanderer, Catholic Answers, John Salza, Robert SIscoe and others please consider both what Bishop Gracida has to say on his blog, and also Veri Catholici. Everyone needs to get along and support the good Bishop. Thank you for understanding. We need to be united against the false voices in the world and the evil that is destroying the church from within. I am peacefully asking you to do this. Thank you.

    Here is a copy and pasted this from the website about the second synod of Sutri which is the mechanism for addressing the concerns with two Popes:

    A Second Synod of Sutri

    Both the salvation of souls and the protection of children require that the Catholic Church’s credibility be not damaged by being governed by men involved in abuse and its coverup. For that reason, the Church has a right to remove all such corrupt clerics even the Pope!

    Now since no council is superior in authority to the Successor of Saint Peter, no pope can be removed for office for being the Pope. However, as regards the man who is pope, the Church does have the right and obligation to judge whether his claim to the office is valid. The canonical precedent for this occurred in Anno Domini 1046; it was called the Synod of Sutri. (For discussion, see “Yes, a Pope can be deposed”).

    All the more reason, today, since Christ instituted Sacred Orders to be a ministerial service to all those who believed in His Name. On this account, it is by Divine Institution, that there exists a correlative right of the Church to remove from office those men who on account of their gross corruption or moral depravity, endanger the faithful or pose an existential threat to the credibility of the whole Church in fulfilling Her Mission of preaching the Gospel of Salvation to all mankind. The Church often does this by a penal sanction, such as degredation from office. But She can also do this if the cleric has lost his office by heresy or obtained it illicitly. And as far as Jorge Mario Bergoglio is concerned, there are 7 reasons by which his claim to the office of Pope might not be valid.

    For this reason, on account of the multitude of events which point to the utter moral corruption of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, « Veri Catholici », the international Association for the promotion of the Catholic Faith against the errors of Cardinal Kaser, announces its intention to invite the Clergy of Rome to a Second Synod of Sutri.

    For this purpose we intend to place an advertisement in a major Newspaper at Rome inviting all the Clergy of that Diocese to a Synod to judge whether Bergoglio still has a valid claim to office or whether he should be deposed for corruption, after the manner of the Synod of Sutri, in 1046 A.D..

    To do this, we need to raise about 5000 Euros, which will go exclusively to the advertisement and rental of the place for the Synod. This Synod will have canonical effect inasmuch as the Clergy of Rome attend and vote. No more.

    To help us achieve this great and holy work, please make a generous donation at by pressing the PayPal Button in the right column.

    If the Synod declares Bergoglio deposed, on any account, and he refuses to resign and/or quit the Vatican City Territory, we will seek from the Italian Government a Bill in Parliament recognizing the canonical validity of the declaration and seeking his removal from the Vatican by Italian Armed Forces, on the grounds that he cannot claim the rights accorded to the Apostolic See in the Lateran Pact and subsequent treaties.

    This initiative is motivated by the good of the Church, the salvation of souls and above all to defend the Divine Majesty of the Most Holy Trinity from the now patent malign intentions of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The Canonical precedent is the Synod of Sutri, which precedent has force from this, that the Code of Canon Law establishes nothing regarding canonical complaints which regard the question of the validity of the claim of the person, who is ostensibly Pope, to that office. There also being no tribunal established in the Code to hear such cases, the jurisdiction of such a right returns by historic and divine right to the clergy of the Diocese of Rome, the clergy of whom would be the judges of the Tribunal in such a decision. (Here, by “validity of claim”, we refer not specifically to the results of the Conclave of 2013, but to the question whether the one who appears to hold office, in fact does currently hold it).

    At such a Synod, there will be at least 7 charges brought up for discussion and vote. On each charge, the accused through his designated representative(s) or in person, will be given opportunity to respond:

    Whether Benedict XVI’s resignation only conferred upon the victor of the 2013 Conclave the ministerium, not the munus of the Petrine Office? — For if this be the case, Benedict XVI is still the Pope and Bergoglio is merely his Vicar extraordinaire.

    Whether the St Gallen Mafia are a schismatic sect, and thus not members of the Catholic Church (Canon 194. §1)? — For if this is the case Bergoglio cannot hold any office in the Church.
    Whether Universi Dominici Gregis n. 81, was clearly violated at the 2013 Conclave? — If this be the case, the College of Cardinals must declare the 2013 Conclave unfinished, and proceed to the election of a successor to Benedict XVI.

    Whether the heresies contained in Amoris Laetitia, or in the personal statements denying the existence of a Hell for the damned, or of the admissibility of capital punishment, deprive Bergoglio of office ipso facto (Canon 194. §1) ? — And if this is the case, Bergoglio from the moment he pertinaciously asserted each heresy, lost his membership in the Catholic Church and all offices in it.

    Whether the corruption manifested by the Letter of Archbishop Viganò demonstrates sufficiently that Bergoglio is involved in an immoral conspiracy against the Catholic Church? — If this is the case, he is a schismatic, and cannot hold any office in the Church.

    Whether his request to Chinese Catholic Bishops to resign their sees so that they may be filled by those named by the Communist Government merits him excommunication as a schismatic, not only for his violation of the precepts of the Apostolic See against lay investiture, but on account of its attack on the Mystical Body of Christ, which by such means would be made subject to heretics and schismatics. — If this be the case, he can hold no office in the Church.

    Whether his personal promotion of the reception of the Sacraments by public sinners merits him ipso facto the excommunication latae sententiae imposed by the Council of Trent in Session XIII, cannon 11. — If this be the case, he is deprived of every office in the Church.

  2. Sheepdog says:

    Also here is this from another Ash Wednesday 6 years ago in February.

  3. Sheepdog says:

    If only the USCCB had some leadership and courage??? Those that speak up such as Bishop Strickland in Tyler Texas and others are listened to, but then their suggestions are not taken. We need to pray for them.

Comments are closed.