Premature Celebration

The point is not the “Synod documents” but the process of perpetual synodalism

A very good priest whom I highly respect had this reaction to the concluding document of the Synod (summarized by The Pillar here):

It would seem that the last attempt at revolution in the Catholic Church has run out of steam. The opposition to the radical Instrumentum laboris and its gobbledygook was too great. The Synod Fathers called for synodality to be properly defined and the sensus fidelium to be thought of in union with the previous document on the issue by the International Theological Comission.

This leads to an interesting situation. First, if synodality is actually defined in light of the Church’s tradition, we may have actually obtained some positive theological development beneficial to the Church.

Also, if synodality is defined in a way that incorporates the orthodox understanding of the sensus fidelium, a great antidote to the current state of confusion may be found. The laity who actually adhere to the Catholic faith and the Apostolic tradition will be heard by the episcopacy. The theme of “listening” will no longer be farcical but actually beneficial to the life of the Church. Maybe all those Catholics harmed by Traditionis custodes will finally be listened to instead of New Ways Ministry.

Heterodoxy cannot hide anymore behind sophistry and gobbledygook. It will not stand when forced to be made clear—that was the whole trick of the Instrumentum laboris. The Synod Fathers saw through it and rejected it even though the deck appeared stacked to produce more nonsense.

I really wish I could believe this optimistic interpretation, but I can’t, after the past ten years. It seems to me that the point of synodality is in the perpetual process, not any particular results. What Pope Francis wants is for people to think that everything is up for perpetual discussion, emoting, and voting, because that means that the boundaries of right and wrong, true and false, are perpetually indefinite and debatable, however much a particular group of voters decides to vote in favor of traditional doctrine. Francis is content to reaffirm Catholic doctrine now and again, but only together with saying a plethora of confusing or conflicting things that transmitted the message: “Do as your conscience bids you” or “Do as modernity bids.”

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