Catholics in Scotland & Synodality Mania…editor
Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have welcomed a call from Pope Francis for a Synod on the theme of Synodality, to be held in 2023. I mean, could you make this stuff up? A “Synod on Synodality”? What about a “Debate on Debating”? A Symposium on
Sympathy… Well, you’ll get my drift.
According to Pope Francis, synodality expresses the nature of the Church, its form, its style, its mission, and some of its variations. As opposed to the rigidity and top-down nature of hierarchies, synodality should be considered the self-same movement of Tradition, which would lead to a turn towards the sensus fidei and its infallibility in credendo; due to the fact that synodality means “walking together”, it is the people of God and not someone else, even if the shepherd of the Church, who indicates the direction of travel, because the people would have the “nose” for the right direction. Consequently, according to some observers, synodality corrects the Petrine primacy, and thus the baptized believers who participate in the worship, listening and teaching of the word may also govern the Church. This would do away with the ‘paternalism’ of the hierarchy. It is a pity, however, that those who support this view have not realized that paternalism is what has produced, for example, Traditionis custodes.
All this seems to stem from the notion of ‘living tradition’ Pope Francis has in mind when he resorts to the quotation from St Vincent de Lérins: ‘ut annis scilicet consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate‘ (progressing, consolidating with the years, developing with time, deepening with age). He mentions it in the 2015 encyclical Laudato si’ (121) to indicate the Church’s growing self-understanding both in tune with and dependent upon dialogue with the world; in his speech on 11 October 2017 – the twenty-fifth anniversary of John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum on the Catechism of the Catholic Church – to justify the amendment of the article on the death penalty; again, in the closing address delivered to the Synodal Assembly on Amazonia, on 26 October 2019; finally, in the address to the faithful of the diocese of Rome, on 18 September 2021, to launch the synodal process. It may be deduced that this quotation constitutes the recurrent yardstick by which he measures the “rigidity” or otherwise of people and things.
Yet, the quotation from the famous monk refers to the dogma of the Christian religion, and this excerpt continues like this immediately afterwards: “It is necessary, however, that it always remain absolutely intact and unaltered”. Indeed, as he had reflected earlier: “Some may ask: will there never be any progress in religion in the Church of Christ? There certainly will be, and a great deal. For who can be so much of an enemy of men and hostile to God as to wish to prevent it? However, one must be careful that it is a true progress of faith and not a change. True progress occurs through internal development. Change, on the other hand, occurs when one doctrine is transformed into ‘another one’. It is therefore necessary that, with the progress of the times, the understanding, knowledge and wisdom of individuals and of all, of one alone and of the whole Church, should grow and progress as much as possible. However, the kind of doctrine, the doctrine itself, its meaning and content must always remain the same”. Click here to the rest of this excellent article
I’m hearing from all sides, that there is synodality mania across the Church in Scotland, with parishes enthusiastically preparing with questionnaires/consultation documents and all with a view to re-making the Church in the image of the person with the best ideas. Click here to see the very nice young lady in the short video clip, briefly explaining what’s what in the Archdiocese of Glasgow, and here to check out the consultation questions in the Diocese of Paisley – crazy (loaded) questions like “who feels left out of the Church?” / “How can we include them?” I suspect (but not sure) that these will be the standard questions distributed across the country. Whatever, at least one parish in Glasgow – St Matthew’s Bishopbriggs, is at pains to assure everyone that this here synod ain’t no “tokenism” – hint, hint; change is a-comin’, folks.
What do you think – is a Synod on Synodality a great idea – or would you prefer a Debate on Debating? 😀