The quintessentially modern approach to “synodality” is empty and artificial

Will the Church still be a “listening” Church in ten years or will the “Spirit” go mute once the Germans have given the final definitive word on the Spirit’s intentions?

Cardinals and bishops attend the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 28, 2018. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri, pool via Reuters)

I am not opposed to a more “synodal” Church. In fact, I would welcome any move away from the cult of the modern hyper-papacy that views the pontiff as an Oracle of Delphi on the Tiber who must be in control of every aspect of the Church’s life. There is ample evidence of this hypertrophy of the papacy, but for a recent example one can look at Traditionis Custodes, which contained legislation regulating when and where the TLM can be advertised in parish bulletins!

I am all in favor of the Petrine ministry in the Church, but I highly doubt that Christ intended the rock of the papacy to act like a helicopter parent swooping in to regulate every last detail of parish life. More importantly, I do not think Christ intended for the rock of the Petrine ministry to wield power as Caesar does, and with the same claims of universal omnicompetence.

Nevertheless, I have serious reservations about the current bureaucratic gesticulations toward “synodality” in the Church. As far as I can tell they are rather empty gestures filled with the usual modern technocratic, therapeutic linguistics of faux egalitarian tyranny. Nothing is more quintessentially modern than the bureaucratic impulse to micromanage through mimicry of putatively “democratic” procedures; autocratic ends are achieved by first creating a “process” rooted in “structures”—followed by the infiltrating of those processes and structures in advance with the approved apparatchiks.

And once certain conclusions via “decision consensus” have been reached, the “democratic moment” ends, and all must now offer a pinch of incense to the Caesar of the “process” and its conclusions—conclusions that were reached long before the “process” even began, and which were the raison d’etre for the creation of the entire hamster wheel in the first place. And it is my fear that this process is exactly what we are seeing in the “synodal way,” which has been accompanied by all of the anodyne buzzwords and marketing banalities that one sees in similar secular operations.

Some might say that this is alarmist hyperbole, and that synodality is meant to increase the Church’s “accountability” precisely by devolving “power” to more local entities. I am all for that—in theory. Therefore, if that really is the aim then just do it and stop the charade about a “listening Church” with its thoroughly unsystematic and unscientific questionnaires that are designed to give back to their creators exactly what they wanted to hear in the first place. Most of the respondents to these questionnaires are going to be self-selected Catholic activists of both the Right and the Left, and/or the usual five percent of parishioners who will dutifully show up for a parish meeting if that is what the pastor wants. And such folks are in no way going to be representative of the vast swaths of bored and desultory Catholics who couldn’t care less about such procedural, intramural affairs.

And who will be collecting and analyzing these questionnaires? The same ecclesiastical elites who composed them? And will they be made public? And will there be full transparency throughout the process? Will any reasoned and sincere dissent from the alleged consensus be allowed? Will the “conversation” continue? Or will it end once the desired results are reached? Will the Church still be a “listening” Church in ten years or will the “Spirit” go mute once the Germans have given the final definitive word on the Spirit’s intentions?

One’s suspicions in this regard only increase when looking at the last “questionnaire” from Rome, which was sent to the bishops to discern their attitude toward Summorum Pontificum, the results of which were used as justification for Traditionis Custodes. But Rome never released the results of the survey and played the “episcopal privacy” card as its reason for avoiding transparency. So we are left with just taking Rome’s word that a majority of bishops were greatly displeased with Summorum and wanted it reversed.

It stretches credulity therefore to think that a “synodal” Church is going to be formed via a papacy that often lacks transparency, uses the very anti-synodal fiat of the motu proprio format more than any previous pope, and which is basing the synodal way on thoroughly useless, unscientific questionnaires as indicators of where the “Spirit” is blowing. There are also no criteria established (so far) for a proper discernment of spirits in the light of the Gospel, opening the entire process up to the importation of the idols of the age, all under the banner of “listening.” Parishioners are encouraged to share their experiences of the “Holy Spirit” speaking to them, but apparently without any true formation or spiritual guidance as to whether the “spirit” speaking to them is indeed the Trinitarian one.

And what of this “listening”? Listening to what or to whom exactly? Listening to everyone? That is impossible, and so the real question arises: what are the hermeneutical guideposts for all this listening? But so far, the “process” has not given us any explicit guideposts, just vague words about inclusion and about our questions smelling like sheep or something. My father is going deaf but still manages somehow to hear what he wants to hear. “Selective listening” is what my mother calls it. The same thing here. What we have is a Church long accustomed to “listening” to the faintest murmurings of the bourgeois zeitgeist of secular Euro-America and yet one which then feigns deafness when the victims of its spiritual insouciance are screaming from the rafters for attention.

And I am not just speaking here of the victims of sexual abuse, although they would be exhibit “A”. After all, a Church that can’t hear a mother say to a bishop, “Fr. Skippy raped my son” is not a Church I trust to “listen” to the synodal muse. I am also speaking of all those long-suffering Catholics who have been pleading with the Church for decades now to increase its evangelical witness, to improve its liturgies, its homilies, its devotion to the poor, and its opposition to bourgeois culture with its militarism and rapacious capitalism. A Church that has not “listened” for the past fifty years even to the voice of Saint Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict, and which set its face against them in deeply ingrained institutional ways, is not a Church that I think is truly open to suddenly “listening” to the real voice of the Holy Spirit just because the governing processes will be more multi-focal. Multi-focal selective listening is still selective listening, and that kind of listening will continue so long as the root spiritual causes of the Church’s cultivated, sedulous mediocrity are ignored.

Finally, this sudden epiphanic realization of the need to “listen” seems strangely allied with the resurgence of interest in Vatican II as an “event” that was the catalyst for a “process” that is ever new and ongoing—over and against the view of the Council put forward by the previous two popes as something both new and yet rooted firmly in the Tradition. More on that in a future installment, but suffice it to say for now that I do not trust the “listening” of prelates “schooled” by Bologna.

I understand that there are folks out there—sane and reasonable folks—who think a more synodal Church would be a good thing. I think they are right. But I doubt this is it. Furthermore, there is also a grave danger in such ecclesial navel-staring at her own “structures” that sociologisms will replace theological moorings. And, further, that an exaggerated fixation on the Church’s authority as an end in itself will emerge and create ideological deformations of what such authority is for in the first place: the promotion of holiness, rooted in the communion of trinitarian life, communicated to us in Christ, and lived in the communion of the saints both on earth and in Heaven.

True synodality would, I think, aid this kind of communion ecclesiology. But a “synodality” rooted in a false egalitarianism and a vulgarly democratic, Montanist pneumaticism (and which thereby misuses the “People of God” metaphor), is a non-starter in my book. (More on that in my next essay.)

Fr. Louis Bouyer (1913-2004), in a prescient passage in The Church of God that reads like it was written yesterday, warns against such fixations on “authority” as an end in itself, for they lead to the deformations mentioned above:

Especially over the last centuries, pastoral authority has tended to be isolated from both the preaching of the faith and the celebration of the mysteries. It is not that these two elements disappeared from the Catholic Church, but to too great an extent, instead of acting in symbiosis with them, the exercise of authority has tended to be its own end, causing the proclamation of evangelical truth and the liturgical life to suffer harmful distortion, and has altered itself at the same time. … Instead of being subordinate to the truth to be proclaimed to the world, … authority having made itself its own goal, has oppressed this common life by exaggerated justification of itself, thereby reducing (or at least threatening to reduce) the sacramental liturgy to an ornament of its power.

Bouyer is obviously not criticizing synodalism here nor would he oppose a genuine synodalism. But he does highlight the dangers of a fixation on authority structures, the chief of which is the disconnection that emerges between ecclesial authority and the divine life that putatively is its goal.

And it highlights for me the central question that needs to be addressed regarding all the current talk of “synodality”. Namely, what is the relationship between the magisterium’s authority and its credibility? And if it lacks the latter, how can it properly exercise the former? Indeed, if it lacks credibility, how does it stop its authority from devolving into mere “power” in a worldly and coercive sense?

And if there is a sharp division and a widening gap between episcopal authority and episcopal credibility, in what possible sense can it matter whether that authority is wielded centrally from Rome, or more synodally on a local level? I highly doubt that the credibility of the papacy is of a lower status than that of various episcopal conferences, and diktats issued from Cardinal Marx or Cardinal Cupich are every bit as disincarnate and as abstracted for most Catholics as the latest missive from the Vatican. It is still just authority turtles all the way down and when those authorities lack a visceral, existential credibility, their lucubrations are equally irrelevant regardless of whether they are issued from Rome or Chicago.


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About Larry Chapp 18 Articles
Dr. Larry Chapp is a retired professor of theology. He taught for twenty years at DeSales University near Allentown, Pennsylvania. He now owns and manages, with his wife, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm in Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania. Dr. Chapp received his doctorate from Fordham University in 1994 with a specialization in the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. He can be visited online at "Gaudium et Spes 22".

44 Comments

  1. Very perceptive(and piercing) observations by Dr. Chapp. A skillfully woven analysis of the pitfalls of this synodal “process”. For me, it’s hard to discern the work of the Spirit in what’s going on.

    • There are different kinds of spirit. There’s the evil spirit and there’s the Holy Spirit.

      The devil divides, the Holy Spirit unites. And we know where this synodal process is heading, ergo…..

      • With the help of the Holy Spirit it is heading in the right dirstion. Unfortunately, there are those who are (perhaps influenced by other spirits) hoping it will fail.

    • From what I’ve seen and read there appears to be an inverse relationship between the soundness of a person’s position on religious matters and the number of times that they invoke the name of the Holy Spirit. There is a commandment about taking God’s name in vain.

  2. “There is ample evidence of this hypertrophy of the papacy”
    Nothing new here. The Church has always had people having differing views about any Pope. Sadly, the ones who reject the Pope or treat our Lord’s Vicar with disdain are the ones that we need to worry about.
    Let us judge the good points and the bad ones at the end of the process. In the meantime, we have have some good suggestions made as well as some questionable ones. I have no doubt that, with the Holy Spirit’s perennial presence and guidance, it will all turn out for the good. It has, after all, lasted so long. And we do have a faithful disciple in charge. However, I do hope that you, Larry, and all over here do pray for its success. It is for our good, the good of our Lord’s Church.

    • “And we do have a faithful disciple in charge. ”

      Now that is a laugh. He’s the most unfaithful of them all. These days it is becoming a choice of whether to follow Christ or the Pope.

      He doesn’t want to be called Vicar of Christ so he is probably trying to tell us something.

      • As Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, he is the Vicar of Christ. On one occasion, when a diocesan paper in Rome listed him as their Bishop, his papal title of Vicar of Christ was placed in the footnotes – and rightly so.

          • You will not find the explanation in any anti-Pope Francis trad site.
            “But unlike last year’s edition, the new yearbook does not precede the biography of “Jorge Mario Bergoglio” with the titles: “Vicar of Jesus Christ. Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. Primate of Italy. Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Province of Rome. Sovereign of Vatican City State. Servant of the Servants of God.”

            Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, told Catholic News Service that unlike in 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI had the title “Patriarch of the West” removed from the list, this time “there has been no suppression” of a title.
            “The definition of ‘historic’ in relation to the titles attributed to the pope on one of the pages dedicated to him in the Annuario Pontificio of 2020 seems to me to indicate the bond with the history of the papacy,” Bruni said. All of the other titles “are understood to be tied historically to the title of bishop of Rome because at the moment he is designated by the conclave to guide the church of Rome, the one elected acquires the titles tied to this nomination.” https://catholicherald.co.uk/did-pope-francis-really-drop-the-vicar-of-christ-title/

  3. In my study of Infallibility, I have found it is very often misplaced in the Holy See. It is a charism of the Church as an institution. Yes, there are a number of implications of the charism and how the charism operates in the office of Pope The concept is not only closely to the teachings of the Magisterium, but also in the practices of the common devotion of the People of God, the Catholics in the pew. That seems to ignored in the current model used by the Magisterium today. Lord Acton, a Anglican observer to Vatican I had written if the dangers of the kind of power being wielded in Rome: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This has happened with both Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

    • Ed:

      Just a note, Lord Acton was in fact a Catholic, and ehen he made his famous quote (Absolute power corrupts absolutely) he was writing to his Bishop, expressing his grave concerns about the maximalist-ultramontane factions, among whom was Cardinal Manning of England. In this sense, Acton was in accord with John Henry Newman, who was in the end, very relieved that Vatican I had a minimalist result regarding “papal power.”

      Certainly, under Paul VI, the maximalist faction was in high gear.

      Pontiff Francis is the uber-maximalist, tradition and scripture amount to nothing compared to his rulership.

    • To be even more clear, Acton’s famous line was “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This was followed immediately by: “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

      We ought to hold Acton’s line at arm’s length, asking, Is this really as starkly true and most quoters think? It depends. Did King St. Louis IX and Empress Maria Theresa hold “absolute power”? If you say Yes, then you have to weigh Acton’s dictum in light of the fact that these two were exemplary rulers and not at all corrupt.

  4. This article was an out pouring of an apparent ly troubled person..
    Tha comments were global lacking substantive analysis of topics. One soon realizes that the negativity is an out cry of a reaction “You are upsetting my Apple cart!”
    The overall negativity revealed lack of in depth knowledge regarding the deep desire to really renew the Church. Pope Francis is not a control freak. He wants to renew the Church and rightly so. His task is huge. He has made a start. His focus is renewed people of God. The status quo is not good enough. The modern world has focused “man” on things apart from God. Covid brought the fast lane of life to a dead stop. Denied our pleasures, distractions and strain to obtain more and more, mentally and emotionally many became unable to handle such a new life. Yet many reevaluated the trajectory of their effort. Pope Francis is led by the Holy Spirit. He wants a Holy church.
    Pope Francis should one day be canonized for the mere fact of his strengthen enduring harsh and specious criticism.

    • “Pope Francis should one day be canonized for the mere fact of his strengthen enduring harsh and specious criticism.”

      Seriously?

    • Thank you for this excellent post, Barbara. Your statement that the status quo is not good enough is spot on.
      Many years ago, before we heard anything about Vatican 2, I heard a priest in Bombay (as it was then) tell us that technology was rapidly changing our world and that the Church needed to be relevant in this changing environment. The status quo, he knew, was not good enough. However, there were other changes that were also taking place. The Church was rapidly growing in the non-western world. We had to accommodate this as well.
      Vatican 2 recognized this, and Pope Francis is doing his best to implement the changes that were deemed necessary for the Church to continue being relevant. He is the man for the moment. Hopefully, those who fear the change or are emotionally attached to the status quo, will realize that this is for our best and that they will pray for its success.

      • This reply is to Thompson, Athanasius, Mal and Meynier. I used Meynier’s Reply button so as to make my post stand out a little more on the page. I want to support Thompson in a certain sense and make a contrast to Athanasius, Mal and Meynier on their own counts.

        1. The Council promotes Roman Catholic witness. There are however a number of inputs even from authoritative/orthodox sources keeping it too discursive, tending to consign it to lifelessness. Likewise, unorthodox tend to sidestep faith “in order to have hope” and it is not faith.

        2, Work from the final Documents. If you work from the preparatory documents and the conciliar debates, clashes and/or consensus/”agreements”, you will be remaking what was accomplished, disrupting the unity in profession and getting alienated from it.

        3. The Council recognizes that there are many things in the experience of other groups, ecumenical, religious and secular, that reflect Divine action and can be engaged intelligently and fruitfully. It contributes to both the life of the Church and the build-up/sustenance of the common good.

        4. Witness depends on God’s grace. Witness that is not in the faith or leaves it in ambiguity or quandary, wouldn’t be from VATICAN II.

        • Paul VI in his General Audience January 12 1966, gave some general direction concerning the now-completed Council. I highlight some things but the whole report is worth reading; and it has the virtue that it is not lengthy.

          On the theme of witness, I find that the Council itself, in the interceding and determinative actions of Paul VI and in the conclusions under his hand, describes a true Roman and universal witness. Some would say “incomplete” because of one thing or another and whatnot. But it is not incomplete, it initiates. And it is neither exclusive nor lax, it is rooted in faith and exemplary, in as much as it very simply –

          ‘ ….. endowed its teachings with the authority of the supreme ordinary magisterium which ordinary and so clearly authentic magisterium must be accepted docilely and sincerely by all the faithful, according to the mind of the Council regarding the nature and purposes of the individual documents. ‘

          As to which Paul VI expounds further, saying –

          ‘ We must be careful: the teachings of the Council do not constitute an organic and complete system of Catholic doctrine; this is much broader, as everyone knows, and is not questioned by the Council or substantially modified; indeed, the Council confirms it, illustrates it, defends it and develops it with a very authoritative apology, full of wisdom, vigor and trust. And it is this doctrinal aspect of the Council, which we must first of all note for the honor of the Word of God, which remains univocal and perennial, as a light that does not go out, and for the comfort of our souls, which from the frank and solemn voice of the Council experience what providential office Christ entrusted to the living magisterium of the Church to guard, to defend, to interpret the “deposit of faith” ….. We must not detach the teachings of the Council from the doctrinal patrimony of the Church ….. the Council helps the faithful, be they teachers or disciples, to overcome those states of mind – of denial, indifference, doubt, subjectivism, etc. – who are contrary to the purity and strength of the faith. It is a great act of the ecclesiastical magisterium; and whoever adheres to the Council thereby recognizes and honors the magisterium of the Church; and this was the first idea that moved Pope John XXIII, of venerable memory, to convoke the Council, as he well said when inaugurating it: ” ut iterum magisterium ecclesiasticum. . . affirmaretur ” ; “It was our intention ….. in calling this great assembly, to reaffirm the ecclesiastical magisterium ….. What matters most to the Ecumenical Council ….. is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be more effectively guarded and exposed”. ‘

          https://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/it/audiences/1966/documents/hf_p-vi_aud_19660112.html

    • Dr. Chapp’s article resonates powerfully with me, and I look forward to his next contribution on the subject of synodality.

      Barbara Thompson’s comments exemplify the therapeutic perspective on faith, human relations, and the Church. We read “troubled person,” “negativity,” “control freak,” and “mentally and emotionally.” She might as well have thrown in “rigidity” on the model of Pope Francis, who characteristically criticizes swaths of the faithful in terms that secular psychotherapists use, but without an apparent intent to heal, only to demoralize. These therapeutic concepts are alien to our Catholic patrimony, and I think they can be destructive when deployed in discussions of Church affairs.

      As for the Synod on Synodality, there is every indication (just look at the logo, the language of the surveys, and the choice of relator general) that it will be replete with secular therapeutic and “socio-political” argumentation, leading toward “renewing” the Church into a very nice social justice NGO with sublimely equitable “processes and power structures.” If this is the outcome, the episcopate will have lost even more of its credibility with many of the faithful.

      As my understanding of the synod increases through Dr. Chapp’s and others’ analyses, I hope I will find a satisfactory way to pray for its participants and its success.

      • Well said, Philip! I totally agree with you! Dr. Chapp’s observations struck a deep chord with me as well.

        And your focus on the language coming from Bergoglio’s Vatican is entirely proper. We all know that words frequently describe much more than their authors have in mind.

        Dr. Chapp’s description of “all of the anodyne buzzwords and marketing banalities that one sees in similar secular operations” is absolutely spot-on.

        The fact that the Vatican’s language mimics that used by functionaries in lofty multinational boardrooms reveals much about those who operate this multinational religion.

        The users of such language are making it clear that the deepest truths of the matters at hand are hopelessly beyond the ken of their benighted, out-of-date listeners — namely, us.

        By using such language, the Vatican nomenklatura is letting us know that they are our betters because of their unfailing sensitivity and peerless morality, as opposed to our rigidity and lack of sophistication.

        Likewise, Dr. Chapp’s ominous description of the “empty gestures filled with the usual modern technocratic, therapeutic linguistics of faux egalitarian tyranny,” is disturbingly apt.

        This is a type of verbiage peculiar to these times and it is not intended to convey the truth, but rather to impress listeners concerning the surpassing intellectual capacity and the inestimable technical expertise of the speaker.

        Alas, all of this all bodes ill for the people of God.

        Jesus Christ did not use language like that. He used terms that even children could understand — and yet many of the most brilliant people in history spent their entire lives pondering His simple, direct, breathtakingly profound words.

        I absolutely cannot imagine anyone these days pondering over the boilerplate spewed by the busy bureaucrats in the Vatican.

        Except of course in the sense that I, whenever I try to read their releases concerning dialoguing synods on synodality, scratch my head and say, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa? What are they even *talking* about?”

  5. I agree that the synod can easily be an instrument of political cover for those promoting the ‘woke’ theology and gender bending focus of many.

  6. An advantage of not being a psychiatrist is that we may psychoanalyze without fear of jeopardizing our credentials. So, whenever we read a long winded critique, here of an ultramontanist papacy followed by plead for understanding that one hasn’t jettisoned belief in the papacy – we know that there’s conflict. But isn’t that the conflict most suffer during this papacy?
    A “synodal way on thoroughly useless, unscientific questionnaires as indicators of where the Spirit is blowing” (Chapp). Chapp perceives the fallacy of the great universal Synod, going so far as to risk withering the widespread belief of Francis aficionados in the God of surprises [“And what of this listening? Listening to what or to whom exactly? Listening to everyone? That is impossible!”]. I’ll end my free analysis here. An act of compassion for the many who are driven to flummox and retreat to corners during this papacy.
    Synodality is presumed by the author better than micromanagement, a sort of welcome relief. Why? Bouyer [Fr Louis] on the “disconnection that emerges between ecclesial authority and the divine life that putatively is its goal” marks the chief issue for Dr Chapp. Authority for the sake of authority, a fine descript of clericalism is a real issue. Can we ever relieve it [totally] when authority is integral to a functioning Church instituted by an irreproachable Authority? Perhaps not knowing human nature, that all of us aren’t saints. For example, it took a great saint Catherine of Siena to challenge, and admonish Roman pontiffs for their lack of effective authority.
    Insofar as synods, ongoing synodality, as distinguished from Councils [when required] that may not be the answer to our problems since the underlying dynamics that drive the present disparity of firm doctrine will not disappear. We may take our clue from Christ’s authority as requiring what St Catherine fought for, strong, faithful leadership.

  7. Are we to anoint “Vatican II as a singular ‘event’”? Or, as with Benedict XVI, is it Christ in history who is the singular “event,” to which faith (and morals) responds? Not any council or synod–these are what the Church DOES, not what the Eucharistic Church IS.

    Instead, and with admitted exaggeration, let us notice six resonances between unstructured synodality and Islam (!):

    FIRST, within the “peaceful” Qur’an, the fly in the ointment is the entries for violent jihad (Q 2:186, 2: 187/191, 8:34, 9:5, 47:4). Under synodality is the fly (homosexual allusion intended) the the German “synodal way,” advanced by the media events (!) to overturn both the Church and sexual morality, by the triad Marx, Bats-sing, and Hollerich?
    SECOND, under Islam, such centrifugal forces were placed under a kind of cloture in A.D. 847 by edict of the Caliph Wathiq (establishing the primacy of the divinely “dictated” Qur’an). Under synodality, is the similar step to anoint the “process” itself of synodality (the tautological Synod on Synodality in 2023)?
    THIRD, under Islam, Muhammad replaces the “Holy Spirit” (a Greek biblical translation error, according to Muslim scholars). Under synodality does the fluid Holy Spirit, instead, become the third period of History, replacing the earlier eras of the Father and Son, i.e., now the Kingdom of the Holy Spirit as under Joachim de Flora, etc.?
    FOURTH, membership in Islam involves minimal doctrinal requirements, while synodality embraces all as part of the ever more elastic People of God. Not only ordained successors of the apostles (now primarily as synodal “facilitators” blurred with the laity), but alongside celebrities of a double-speak magisterium promoting abortion, gender theory and infanticide (and “atheists,” as listed in the Preparatory Document and Vademecum).
    FIFTH, while Islam embraces four “orthodox” and yet different schools of law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’l and Hanbali), geographically distributed, is this like our global synodality to be assembled from particular dioceses into possibly incompatible “continental” syntheses (think Germany)?
    SIXTH, despite its imams, the self-understanding of Islam is non-hierarchical—and inevitably very factional, divided mostly into the Shi’ite and Sunni sects. Likewise, does synodality divide into the malappropriated labels of “conservative” and “liberal”? And, will all contradictions be simply “assembled” and “collected” (Vademecum) into an inclusive (!) package-deal by the self-styled imams Hollerich & Co. (relator-general of the Synod on Synodality)?

    SUMMARIZING, our prayerful hope is that, under the Holy Spirit, synodality will have the leavening effect intended by Pope Francis…

    But, like Islam, a sectarian religion with the ongoing revelation of a timeless Qu’ran as the center; will a polyhedral Church legitimize historical revelation/“paradigm shifts,” with only this “endless journey” of synodality, itself, as the center?

    If so, what is to become of the singular Incarnation: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8)? And what, too, of the invoked Second Vatican Council: “The Christian dispensation, therefore, as the new and definitive [!] covenant, will never pass away, and we now await no further [!] new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf 1 Tim 6:14, Tit. 2:13)” (Dei Verbum, n. 4)?

    To which “Word” is a listening Church to listen, even as we also listen synodally to one another?

    • “To which “Word” is a listening Church to listen, even as we also listen synodally to one another?”

      That should be pretty easy to establish. If the “Church” (which now looks like breaking into different churches with different doctrines) is truly listening to the Word Incarnate as expressed in Scripture and Tradition, then we would not see a rupture from what the Church has always taught and believed.

      But what is coming from this synod on synodality is more like a listening to the words of that adversary who in Genesis said “Did God say?”

      • The Church is not breaking up into different groups. It is still our Lord’s Church. There will always be dissenters. In the past, they formed Protestant Churches but now they are just white anting it.

  8. I concur with Larry Chapp that the people running their so-called “Synod-on-Synodality” event have proven themselves untrustworthy.

    Mr. Chapp has alluded to the various reasons, not least of which is the involvement of the same people in the ongoing deceitfulness involving the sex abuse crisis, as evidenced by Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons (the Catholic psychiatrist who reported McCarrick’s predatory behavior to the Church in the US and in Rome, reporting directly to the Congregation for Bishops) in his testimony published here at Catholic World Report, where he noted that the report is stocked with “fabrications and falsehoods,” and omits other vital evidence provided by Dr. Fitzgibbons. I include the link yo his article below:

    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/11/11/the-mccarrick-report-and-the-need-for-new-protocols-part-1/

    The same people that continue the sex abuse deceit arrange the Synodality deceit.

    These same men, who now refuse to allow Cardinals to convene, after many of them rejected the manipulative execution of the 2014 “Family Synod,” now make mockery of themselves with yet more theater about “listening” and “open-ness.”

    Besides new protocols, which are needed (per Dr. Fitzgibbons), we might do better with some different men.

    As to these men, Jesus declared: “they have their reward.”

  9. To clarify my inaccurately worded point #3, it is not that Muhammad “replaces” the Holy Spirit, but rather that Christ (according to Islamic scholarship) foretold the coming of Muhammad rather than a the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). Muhammad made no claim to divinity.
    My source is Maulana Muhammad Ali, “Muhammad the Prophet” (Lahore, Pakistan: Ripon, 1984; Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam, 1924; pp. 43-5. The Greek term “Paraclete” (Holy Spirit) is substituted by Muslim commentators with the presumably correct “Periclyte,” the Greek form of Ahmad or Mohammed (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary, Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1983/1938, Q 7:157, fn. 1127, p.388).

  10. Take the picture. Take scissors. Cut the picture in an evergreen tree shape. Attach a brown rectangular tree trunk. Stand the tree upright. There we have a Christmas tree which lacks only the Infant Savior at its base. Where is the Savior? Where?

    • Yes indeed Sr. Gabriela “How many of us have that?

      Over several years I have visited and participated on more than a few sites and on them you see men with good intent as in the (Manifestation of Truth) but also on many sites both Right and Left we see self-interest (Agendas) On the Right: an extreme conservative wind wanting to blow our boat back to the becalming out-of-date swamp of pre-1962. On the Left: an extreme liberal wind wanting to blow our boat into rapids where faith and morals are thrown overboard”.

      But we can go forward in UNITY OF PURPOSE by hoisting a third sail one of Humility, the true (only) sail that the Holy Spirit blows upon, bringing arrogance to its knees and where folly does not have to be appeased.

      So can the Church under Pope Francis and his Bishops embrace humility and reflect this recognizable innate instinct within the hearts of mankind which has been given by God to all and in doing so reclaim the laity/faithful in giving the Church relevance that is based on Truth in the world today.

      The Church has been given by Our Lord Himself via the true DM Image one of Broken Man the means to immediately shift the culture of Clericalism globally in a way that cannot be misunderstood by mankind while at the same time creating a genuine atmosphere of sorrow for the culture of cover-up within the whole church.

      While this image would remain as a visual reminder to all to serve the Truth first before any institution or individual man/woman as only an honest church one seen to be based on humility can recapture the hearts of mankind, especially in the West today.

      Please consider continuing via the link

      https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/08/26/what-does-pastoral-even-mean-anymore/#comment-276281

      kevin your brother
      In Christ

      • The synod will result in the church ending up like the Anglicans. Each region will have its own understanding of truth and interpretation of the Gospel. Martin Luther will be glad.

      • That is an assumption.

        By the looks of it it’s not the Holy Spirit that is guiding it.

        It’s moving away from Christ so how can it be His Spirit at work?

        The devil divides. The Holy Spirit unites.

      • Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit START guiding it and boot out the other spirit. I think the Pachamama spirit is still in control.

  11. Excellent analysis. Part of the problem is clergy and laity no longer have a biblical understanding of reality, but have values, beliefs, and ways of knowing that are essential secular. Confidence in the realities recorded in the Gospels has been undermined by many of the most influential biblical scholars and theologians, who have convinced many in the Church that we do not have the actual deeds and teachings of Jesus recorded by eyewitnesses or those who knew them. The 20 books of Raymond Brown and the errors of theologians like Karl Barth have resulted in a virtual ignoring of the reality and sin, especially the sins of the flesh. It is really about a conflict between two understandings of reality, with the secularist winning the day, for now. It will not stand, because God tolerates it for a time, to work His plans and purposes, which are the salvation of souls. The Mystical Body of Christ is Who it is, both now and forever.

  12. A tour de force Dr Chapp. As a piece of writing it is brilliant. As rhetoric it is persuasive. Given your analysis, my guess is that you could probably write now a pretty close approximation of the final synodal report. This would be a very useful tool with which to prick the synodal pretensions now afflicting the Church and wasting the time of many good prelates, priests, and people. If everything is in motion to arrive at foregone conclusions, what do you suppose they are?

  13. Thank you Dr. Chapp for stating something that needed to be said. I had suspicions about this “synodal way” from the beginning but was unable to articulate it as you did.

  14. “And if there is a sharp division and a widening gap between episcopal authority and episcopal credibility, in what possible sense can it matter whether that authority is wielded centrally from Rome, or more synodally on a local level?”

    Two choices present themselves: It matters not one iotic bit. Or it matters greatly.

    Currently the sheep appear dazed or drugged and confused, without a shepherd whose voice they know.

    We need a return to basics: Who defines authority and credibility? By Whose authority is one deemed to be credible?

    How can we awaken Jesus, asleep during a tempest, if we aren’t capable of acknowledging that He is, at the first instant, there? Even if He were to awake and calm the store, would we recognize and thank him, or would we pay him no mind?

  15. I find the proposition that the Tridentine Mass and the New Form of the Mass have to be considered to be one and the same “expression” and “are not” two Rites of the same reality, so that therefore only one may subsist – sticky. It affects both Benedict and the Benedict followers and Francis and the Francis followers.

    I think it reflects, on the one hand, a theology that straps down what grace can do; and on the other hand, an approach to practical worship that super-imposes and exaggerates what grace actually is leading.

    Grace works in both forms of the Mass and in their being retained. This is what should be followed; so that the language of two rites would only be natural in describing what is happening. It would also match with the history of the matter; that by the way, has been at the same time, the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Some seem to forget if only for this subject, that grace in the Mass is the love of God in the Heart of our Saviour in the Blessed Sacrament. As a result there appears two new dimensions to the problem:

    1. where it is implied that the new form necessarily means that a right participation WILL be achieved and “formalism” WILL be avoided and

    2. the wrong idea that the two forms are “one and the same expression” serves as some kind of indicator of where and why “formalists” want to congregate.

    I ask rhetorically: what kind of theology is that? Or should I say, what kinds of theologies are those?

    In addition, there are other issues: “vibrancy” in the new form that really descends into parish gossip and parochial dissipation; people suffering dryness in Mass whatever the form; grace being imparted just because of being present -even miracles; etc.; & etc.

    Exacting “enshrined” logic and sweeping “nice” ideas do not make theological substance or good practical wisdom. In effect you are not really talking about Catholic worship.

    https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/15409/pope-warns-against-formalism-in-catholic-liturgy

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The quintessentially modern approach to “synodality” is empty and artificial – Via Nova Media
  2. The synodal way – mimicry of democratic procedures - California Catholic Daily
  3. Revolution & Counter Revolution Within The Two Opposing Churches In One Church In The News Round Up | Traditional Catholics Emerge
  4. Synodalité, malaise bureaucratique et problème du pouvoir

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