In response to Pope Francis's recent remarks that he is "not afraid of schism" in the church but prays for it not to happen, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States and a strong critic of the Pope's liberalism, said the Pope is "provoking" a schism "himself" because of his support for the October Amazon Synod in Rome.
The working document for the syod has been denounced by several cardinals as heretical.
“Pope Francis is saying that because he knows the Amazon Synod may provoke a schism," Archbishop Vigano told Inside The Vatican reporter Dr. Robert Moynihan on Sept. 11.
"He is ready to say others are making the schism, but [by his actions in continuing to support the Amazon Synod] he is provoking it himself," said the archbishop. "Is this the attitude of a pastor who cares for the faithful? It is his own duty to prevent a schism.”
On Sept. 10, while returning to Italy from Africa by airplane, Pope Francis was asked about his comment that "it's an honor when Americans attack me." This arose because of a new book, How America Wants to Change the Pope, which alleges there is a cabal of conservative American Catholics trying to undermine Pope Francis's liberal agenda.
In relation to that opposition, Pope Francis said, “There always is the schismatic option in the Church. It’s a choice that the Lord leaves to human freedom. I am not afraid of schism.... I pray for them not to happen, as the spiritual health of many people is at stake.”
“Today we have pockets of rigidity, which aren’t a schism, but they’re semi-schismatic ways of life that will end badly,” said Pope Francis. He added that clerics and lay people who are “rigid” in their beliefs lack the “health” of the Gospel, reported Cruxnow.com.
Although Pope Francis suggests it is "rigid" Catholics who are leading the church into schism, Archbishop Vigano stressed that the Pope's liberalism and heterodox views are fueling schism and sparking orthodox opposition.
In reference to the working document for the Amazon Synod, which takes place at the Vatican Oct. 6-17, Cardinal Walter Brandmuller has said it "contradicts the binding teaching of the Church in decisive points and thus has to be qualified as heretical."
"Inasmuch as even the fact of divine Revelation is here being questioned [in the document], or misunderstood, one also now has to speak, additionally, of apostasy," said the cardinal in a June 27 statement.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former chief justice of the highest court at the Vatican, said of the Amazon Synod document, "It cannot be. This document is an apostasy."
"This cannot become the teaching of the Church," he added, "and God willing, the whole business will be stopped."
Cardinal Gerhard Mueller has also criticized the synod document. For his part, Archbishop Vigano has said of the document, "The figure of Christ is absent. The synod working document testifies to the emergence of a post-Christian Catholic theology, now, in this moment. And this is very troubling. It is against everything I have worked for and believed for all my life.”