Bishop Barron’s ‘Politely Excoriating’ Assessment of the Synod on Synodality

Last week Bishop Robert Barron released a statement about the “Synod on Synodality”, which he attended, in which he is politely excoriating of both the manner and depth of reflection that took place.

He has added his voice to a growing chorus of critics, including Archbishop Fisher of Sydney, Archbishop Wilson of Southwark and Archbishop Gądecki, president of the Polish Bishop’s Conference, as well as CDF Prefect Cardinal Müller who said some in the assembly are “abusing the Holy Spirit” in order to introduce “new doctrines”.

Bishop Barron’s reflection of course carries particular weight given that he is one of the most-followed Catholics in the world on social media (he has some 3.1 million Facebook fans, over half a million YouTube subscribers and over 200,000 Twitter followers).

Barron’s popularity derives from the obvious reality that he is both highly educated and a gifted orator. He has been uniquely successful in his ability to engage with popular culture and provide a uniquely Catholic insight.

He strongly believes in the value and integrity of our Catholic intellectual inheritance and the power of the transcendent: our natural attraction to the good, the true and the beautiful. The combination of these elements has drawn extraordinary engagement from around the world.

His synodal reflection is concise and yet reveals his erudition and the accessible nature of his writing. It begins with an affirmation of the call to reach out to those who do not feel included in the Catholic Church and the need to “gather them into the Body of Christ”, directly citing Pope Francis’ frequently referenced words to those gathered at World Youth Day in Portugal (todos, todos, todos).

Bishop Barron takes this welcome of the Pope’s and puts it in its proper context. He also puts it in the context of Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic constitution on the Church from Vatican II, which taught that the laity’s role is to take Christ out into their lives in the world as leaven. In this way he takes the claims that Vatican II has not yet been implemented and shows that whatever this paradigm shift Pope Francis is calling for actually means, it certainly is not a proper implementation of Vatican II.

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