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Spanish bishop warns that the Synod on Synodality can’t re-invent the mission of the Church

Nicolás de Cárdenas   By Nicolás de Cárdenas for CNA

Bishop Demetrio Fernández of Córdoba says Mass to mark the close of the diocesan phase of the beatification cause of Pedro Manuel Salado in Córdoba, Spain, March 20, 2021. Credit: Diocese of Córdoba.

Cordoba, Spain, Jul 29, 2022 / 05:00 am (CNA).

The bishop of Córdoba, Spain, Demetrio Fernández, warned about the challenges facing the Synod on Synodality, an initiative that he acknowledges “has stirred up the waters of the Church” but that cannot “invent” the mission of the Catholic Church.

In his weekly pastoral letter, which concludes by quoting the Letter to the Hebrews — ”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching” — the bishop explained some of the challenges of the synodal process.

He noted that “the Church, by its very nature, is synodal, it is communion, it’s an assembly, and therefore we are called to prophesy.”

However, he clarified, “It is the Holy Spirit who speaks in us. And here’s where the ambiguity can come in, because there is no lack of people who confuse the Holy Spirit with their own strange ideas.”

The need for discernment

Fernández warned that, although there are places where “erratic proposals” have been rejected in the first phase of the synod, in others, some of them “proposed by a small minority, have been immediately included in the concluding documents, lacking the most elementary discernment.”

Therefore, the prelate called for the exercise of discernment to “test the spirits to see if they come from God or from the evil one.”

This discernment must be carried out under the criteria of the Word of God, the bishop stressed. “If all this movement distracts us in words and words, in meetings and in groups, in encounters at all levels, spending time and energy, and we do not convert, that does not come from God.”

The prelate emphasized the importance of “looking at what the Church has done everywhere and always throughout the centuries.”

“The Church and the mission that Christ has entrusted to her are not going to be invented by us now,” he said.

Fernández said that found within Tradition is the Magisterium of the Church, of the pope, and of the bishops in communion with him. Departing from that Tradition “is erratic, it is condemning oneself to sterility. The Holy Spirit cannot now come to tell us something contrary to what he has said on previous occasions,” he said.

Fernández pointed out that “it makes no sense now to contradict” the doctrine referring to the priestly ordination of men only, priestly celibacy, the blessing of same-sex unions, abortion, or respect for human life until natural death.

The Church is not a parliament

Fernández emphasized that the synodal process cannot be equated to the way in which secular governments draft, debate, and pass their laws. “The synods and assemblies are not to contradict what the Spirit says to his Church as if the Church were a civil parliament, which changes the laws at the demand of the voters,” he said.

For this reason, he said, warnings about the danger of schism in the case of the Church in Germany also must be applied to the Synod on Synodality.

“What is happening at the Synod of the Church in Germany, and that the Holy See has warned that it ‘doesn’t have the power to oblige the bishops and the faithful to adopt new forms of government and new approaches to doctrine and morals’ ought to be applied to the whole Church,” Fernández said.

“Synods and assemblies. May God help us in these moments of turbulence in society and also in the Church,” the prelate added.

Controversy at the Synod

One of the controversies that have been part of the process of the Synod on Synodality took place in Spain, where the archdioceses of Barcelona and Zaragoza included among their proposals the abolition of priestly celibacy and that women have access to the priesthood.

In the final synthesis of the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, which was closed June 11 by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, it states that “although these are issues raised only in some dioceses and, in them, by a small number of groups or individuals, we see fit to incorporate into this synthesis, due to their relevance in the essential ecclesial dialogue and with our fellow citizens, the request they make regarding the need to discern in greater depth the issue concerning optional celibacy in the case of priests and the ordination of married men; to a lesser extent, the issue of women’s ordination has also come up.”

The synthesis published by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference will go to Rome to be included in the previous work of the Synod on Synodality.

What is the Synod on Synodality?

The Synod of Bishops, which will have as its theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission,” will be held in October 2023 at the Vatican.

When inaugurating the work of the Synod on Synodality on Oct. 10, 2021, Pope Francis said that “the synod is a path of spiritual discernment, of ecclesial discernment, which takes place in adoration, in prayer, in contact with the Word of God.”

The preparation for the Synod has three stages: at the diocesan level, the continental level, and at the level of the Universal Church.

This last stage will take place when the General Secretariat of the Synod sends to the participants of the Synodal Assembly the text of the second Instrumentum Laboris, or working document of the Synod.

This second working instrument will be the one that the Synod Fathers will discuss in the Synodal Assembly in October 2023.

At the conclusion of their debates, the Synod Fathers will present a final document to Pope Francis.

Finally, the Holy Father could publish a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, which does not necessarily have to agree with the final document of the Synod Fathers.

This story was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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  1. Clearly, the illuminati in “synodal way” Germania are misunderstood by “rigid bigots” in the Church!

    The long-dead Luther already hinted the current “paradigm shift” when he approved bigamy for the elector Rudolph of Hess and for Henry VIII. Butt, how very non-inclusive (!), a “grey area to be expanded” (global synodality’s Cardinal Grech) now by Lutheranism on steroids, its disinterred corpses masquerading as Catholic bishops…maneuvering to overturn all of sexual morality—for all serial bigamists, for those cohabiting, and especially for the self-marginalized LGBTQ demographic (less a “community” than alphabet soup).

    But, again, the ploy for the Synod on Synodality, itself, is to not really to formally reverse the Catechism, but rather only to feint in that direction, and then to settle collegially for the “middle ground” by pastorally “compiling, aggregating and synthesizing” all contradictions—but not actually rejecting—the pro-homosexual agenda (for example). Swallow the vomit.

    Who cares what a Spanish bishop has to say, or the Africans whom Cardinal Kasper trash-talked a few years back, or others more recent? Not when you have such predictable leadership assigned to the Synodal cockpit as Cardinal Hollerich from central-place Luxembourg.

  2. Bishop Fernández is forthright, unlike the sea of silence among hierarchy, as to the Church as instituted by Christ, quoting the Apostle on the unchangeable essence of God the Father, whose only reliable revelation is Christ.
    Fernández ecclesial theology is Trinitarian, referencing the Holy Spirit, “It is the Holy Spirit who speaks in us. And here’s where the ambiguity can come in, because there is no lack of people who confuse the Holy Spirit with their own strange ideas”.
    Cordoba’s bishop unfortunately does not represent a majority among bishops, many may tacitly agree but seem like reeds waving in the wind. Others perhaps the majority [except perhaps the US] worldwide seem willing participants in the direction Fernández warns, schism [schism defined canonically is repudiation of papal authority and teaching]. There are facets of schism, one the existence within the Church of a pseudo Catholic church that does not disagree with the current pontiff [as such not a bona fide schism], but in fact is in conflict with previous pontiffs notable John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Paul VI.
    CNA’s de Cárdenas ends with What is the Synod? The pontiff will publish an apostolic exhortation that doesn’t necessarily agree with the Synod Fathers. If the existence of the German Way [a canard as in decoy?] is controversial, we nonetheless find much that is transferable to the Synod agenda. We may ask instead whether the final apostolic exhortation doesn’t [will not] necessarily agree with the Fathers of the Church.

  3. “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”

  4. And there are those of us who are too busy, looking after children and grandchildren, to be involved with Talkfests.

    • Nobody should put anything or anyone ahead of defending the Church. This is not an either/or situation. It is a both/and. Don’t neglect family or the Church. When you defend the Church, you set a positive example for children and grandchildren that nobody else can witness to them.

  5. Remember, you don’t have to be a cardinal to be elected pope. Bishop Demetrio Fernández for pope in the next conclave.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Spanish bishop warns that the Synod on Synodality can’t re-invent the mission of the Church | Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph (FSJ) , Asumbi Sisters Kenya
  2. Spanish bishop warns that the Synod on Synodality can’t re-invent the mission of the Church | Passionists Missionaries Kenya, Vice Province of St. Charles Lwanga, Fathers & Brothers
  3. Spanish bishop warns that the Synod on Synodality can’t re-invent the mission of the Church – Via Nova Media

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