The Instrumentum Laboris [IL] (Working Document) for the October Synod on Synodality, released June 20, embodies the now familiar pattern seen in the various stages of the synodal process. Certain questions are asked, others are ignored, predictable answers are given, and expectations are raised that a new Church, the Holy Spirit-inspired Synodal Church, will emerge in which everyone will feel seen, recognized, welcomed, accepted, accompanied, cared for, listened to, valued, not judged, and so on. “[A] synodal Church is open, welcoming and embraces all. . .[t]he radical call is, therefore, to build together, synodally, an attractive and concrete Church: an outgoing Church, in which all feel welcome.”
The motto for this new Synodal approach could easily be “People, not Doctrines, Я Us.” This emotion-centered focus is the template for the hoped-for “soft” revolution in the Church in which Catholic doctrines that contradict decadent Western sexual mores and radical feminist claims of oppression in the Church are framed as obsolete, regrettable, and needless sources of discord and alienation, as holdovers from a cruel past. These doctrines, of course, need to be jettisoned, lest anyone feel unwelcome.
At the press conference presenting the IL, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur for the October General Assembly, responded to this question from Diane Montagna: “[In the IL] two questions are asked: How can we create spaces where those who feel hurt and unwelcomed by the community feel recognized, received, free to ask questions and not judged? In the light of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, what concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church because of their status or sexuality (for example, remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people, etc.) Isn’t the only possible answer to these questions that, for these people to feel accepted, the Church must change her teaching on the inherent immorality of any use of the sexual faculty outside of a lifelong and exclusive monogamous union of one man and one woman?”
Hollerich’s response reveals why this Synodal process is a disaster that is bringing great damage and sorrow to the Church: “We do not speak about the Church’s teaching. That is not our task and not our mission. We just speak to welcome everybody who wants to walk with us. That is something different.”
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