"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pope Francis on My Book!

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

As you will have read by now, I have asked for a consistory of the College of Cardinals to be held in February 2014. Already several of you, clearly ignoring my homilies against careerism and clericalism, have let it be known sotto voce how utterly fabulous you would look in a scarlet silk soutane. I have other plans for you divas.

You will all be aware that I recently asked eight cardinals to Rome to give me advice on the governance of the universal Church. They will meet again in February before the consistory, to which all cardinals are invited.

Since this place leaks like a sieve, let me put my plans out in the open now before February so you can begin to prepare yourselves. In February, I'm going to do to the College what Tony Blair did to the House of Lords--another stuffy, antiquated body full of panjandrums in red pyjamas: they can serve out their terms as cardinals, but when they die the office, and thus the college, dies with them. There are no more hereditary peers, and there will be no more hereditary cardinalatial sees in various dioceses around the world that have become accustomed to their bishop--whoever he is--always swanning about in scarlet and calling himself a "prince of the Church."

In the news about the consistory, most of you read the headline and overlooked one other announcement: later in February some of the bishops of the so-called synod of bishops will also be meeting with me. The timing is no accident: at the consistory, I plan not only to announce the abolition of the college of cardinals, which has outlived its usefulness. I will also announce that the current "synod," which is just an impotent talking shop, will in fact be re-created (a possibility envisaged by Pope Paul VI in the inaugural legislation in 1965 [cf. § II]) to have real legislative and electoral power. The synod will be charged with new tasks in the governance of the universal Church, taking over most of the responsibilities currently in the hands of the Curia. (Members of the Curia will be given the chance to return to their home dioceses or else may stay in Rome to work in the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen, which is always short of volunteers.) The synod will also be given the electoral power necessary to choose my successor as bishop of Rome.

The legislation for the synod will then be available on the Vatican website for you to use in your own dioceses, dear brothers in the episcopate. I want you to hold regular synods in your dioceses, involving your priests, deacons, religious, and, especially, your lay people. Such synods have a long and venerable history in the Church, going back at least as far as the fourth century, and it's high time we recovered such a treasured part of holy Tradition. (No less an august body than the Council of Trent called for the recovery of such regular synods, but Vatican II dropped the ball on this.) Synods are important for their own sake, but there is a second, and no less vital reason, for their recovery: they will help remove the unhealthy focus on me and the papal office, and they will show to the Orthodox we are serious about bringing our structures more in line with theirs, thus paving the way to East-West unity.

You will also be asked to begin the process, in your countries or regions as you judge appropriate, of transforming your  episcopal conferences into real synods, similar in structure and power to the synods that already govern many of the Eastern Catholic Churches--as well, of course, as the Orthodox Churches. Once again, synodality has a long and venerable history in the Church of Rome, going back at least to the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325.

Rest assured, dear brothers: these proposed changes are not new-fangled ideas that I dreamt up. They have a very long, and impeccably orthodox, history, and for those of you who want to understand that history, or those of you who have further questions about how these synods can work, I really must urge you to read the single-best book about all these matters: Adam DeVille, Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity. His book will allay any worries you may have and answer more questions than I can here.

Assuring you of my heartfelt fraternity in the Lord, and praying for your safe travels as you come to Rome next February (the Missionaries of Charity will pick you up in their old blue van so you don't have to take an expensive and ostentatious airport limousine), I remain,

Your brother in Christ,

Francis, bishop of Rome
From the Vatican,
1 November 2013: Solemnity of All Saints


  1. OK DeVille, I've done my bit by writing that letter. Now you do yours and re-design that book cover featuring Yours Truly and not some retired has-been.

    I remain, your Holy Father etc...


  2. What an absolute mind-boggling thrill that must have been to read from our Holy Father! I had already put your book in my shopping cart at Amazon and look forward to reading it, as well as several others you have reviewed lately. Thank you for your wonderful posts.


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