The Synod on Synodality risks becoming a project of fruitless navel-gazing; reform will only happen if the Church remembers that she exists because of Christ and “in order to evangelize.”
Ever so slowly, the “Synod on Synodality” is beginning. A preparatory process of “listening and dialogue” in parishes and dioceses throughout the Catholic world has been underway since October 2021; in the next stage of the synod, reports from this preparatory process will be synthesized at national meetings. These will be followed by continental synodal gatherings. The synod will culminate in an international assembly of bishop delegates in October 2023. This Roman project is certainly more promising than the German “Synodal Way.” Yet even cardinals and others close to the pope are beginning to realize that many in the Church, laity and clergy alike, lack true synodal enthusiasm.
The Synod on Synodality is meant to be a global exercise in “listening” and “walking together.” But some seem to expect more from this synod than what it can reasonably deliver. Serious theologians have been pointing out since the Second Vatican Council that a Church constantly focusing on herself cannot claim to be following her founder’s mission. Sadly, the Synod on Synodality risks becoming a project of fruitless navel-gazing. Reform will only happen if the Church remembers that she exists because of Christ and “in order to evangelize,” as Paul VI said.
In order for this synod to work and bear fruit, bishops and priests first need to be committed. At this point, I see little enthusiasm, despite massive Vatican advertising. Bishops, priests, and Catholics in general want to “walk with” the pope, and with one another, but this synod has not ignited many hearts or minds. This is due to several factors.
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