The Church’s unity, apostolicity and Catholicity are under attack from its own leadership, the former head of the US bishops’ doctrinal committee has said.

Fr Thomas Weinandy, a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, said the Church’s “four defining ecclesial marks” – the fact that it is “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic” as defined in the Nicene Creed – are under a “subtle, but well-defined attack”. That threat is coming, he said, “regrettably from within Church leadership.”

In a speech at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, Fr Weinandy called for a “robust defence” of the four marks, otherwise the Church’s identity would become “disordered”, which would “enfeeble” its ability to proclaim the Gospel.

“This enfeeblement, then, will be most visibly enacted within the Eucharistic liturgy which will not only cause scandal but also, and more importantly, demean the Eucharistic liturgy as the supreme enactment of the Church being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic,” he said. Although the Church after Vatican II had been “rife with divisions”, there was never any doubt over Church doctrine during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he said. “Such is not the case, in many significant ways, within the present pontificate.”

Although much of Pope Francis’s pontificate was “admirable and praiseworthy”, he had at times appeared to see himself “not as the promoter of unity but as the agent of division,” Fr Weinandy said. Much of this division, he said, stemmed from some bishops using Amoris Laetitia to allow remarried Catholics to take Communion.

Fr Weinandy resigned as a consultant to the US bishops’ doctrine committee after accusing Pope Francis of sowing confusion in an open letter.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection