U.S. synod synthesis shows ‘desire for greater communion’

Carl Bunderson   By Carl Bunderson for CNA


Synod on Synodality logo / Courtesy USCCB

Denver Newsroom, Sep 19, 2022 / 16:36 pm (CNA).

The Synod on Synodality has thus far demonstrated the “joys, hopes, and wounds” shared by members of the Church in the United States, according to a report on the process issued Monday.

“These consultations express a deep desire for greater communion,” read the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Synthesis document, released Sept. 19.

The fruit of consultation in the Latin-rite dioceses in the U.S, as well as Catholic associations, organizations, and national ministries, the synthesis noted several themes: enduring wounds, especially those inflicted by the sexual abuse crisis; enhancing communion and participation in the life of the Church; ongoing formation for mission; and engaging discernment.

In a letter prefacing the report, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, chair of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee, wrote that it is “an expression of what we as a Church have heard each other say when asked about our deepest preoccupations and hopes for the Church of which, by the grace of God, we are all a vital part.”

He emphasized that “the publication of this document is not a concluding moment, however; it is a reflective, forward-moving moment. It is an invitation to listen, to discuss together and to discern together as the Church, about how best to understand and act upon those matters that sit deeply in the hearts and minds of Catholics in the U.S.”

The report noted that the abuse crisis “has eroded not only trust in the hierarchy and the moral integrity of the Church, but also created a culture of fear that keeps people from entering into relationship with one another and thus from experiencing the sense of belonging and connectedness for which they yearn.”

Division within the Church was also a major wound, especially related to the use of the Traditional Latin Mass: “The limited access to the 1962 Missal was lamented; many felt that the differences over how to celebrate the liturgy ‘sometimes reach the level of animosity. People on each side of the issue reported feeling judged by those who differ from them.’”

Division among the bishops was also noted: “The perceived lack of unity among the bishops in the United States, and even of some individual bishops with the Holy Father, as a source of grave scandal. This perceived lack of unity within the hierarchy seems to, in turn, justify division at the local level.”

Marginalization was another wound highlighted in the synthesis, with two groups highlighted. The first is those with a lack of social or economic power, “such as immigrant communities; ethnic minorities; those who are undocumented; the unborn and their mothers; people who are experiencing poverty, homelessness, or incarceration; those people who have disabilities or mental health issues; and people suffering from various addictions. Included also in this group are women, whose voices are frequently marginalized in the decision-making processes of the Church.”

The second marginalized group, the report said, “includes those who are marginalized because circumstances in their own lives are experienced as impediments to full participation in the life of the Church. Among these are members of the LGBTQ+ community, persons who have been divorced or those who have remarried without a declaration of nullity, as well as individuals who have civilly married but who never married in the Church.”

Regarding greater communion and participation, the synthesis indicated a desire “to be a more welcoming Church where all members of the People of God can find accompaniment on the journey. The synodal consultations mentioned several areas where there existed a tension between how to walk with people while remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church.”

Prominent here was “the desire to accompany with authenticity LGBTQ+ persons and their families” and the “deep need for ongoing discernment of the whole Church on how best to accompany our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters.”

The divorced often feel unwelcome, the report noted, suggesting “a more transparent and clear annulment process.”

Greater “leadership, discernment, and decision-making roles for women” were included as a desire in nearly all the synodal consultations.

“Another common hope for becoming a more welcoming Church revolved around removing barriers to accessibility and embracing those with special needs and their families, particularly as it relates to an individual’s sacramental life,” the report highlighted. “One of the regions reported a lack of inclusion because there are so few priests and other ministers who are fluent in American Sign Language. Families expressed great joy when steps of inclusion were taken, while many acknowledged the work still left to be done.”

Greater efforts should be made “to welcome diverse cultural and ethnic communities” and to overcome racism, according to the synthesis.

Concern over young people’s failure to practice the faith was widespread, and “young people themselves voiced a feeling of exclusion and desired to participate more fully as members of the parish community. The feeling of exclusion also manifested itself in some youth seeking a sense of belonging in the Church’s ancient tradition of faith, prayer, and devotion.”

The need for continuing spiritual, pastoral, and catechetical formation was recognized, along with the importance of strengthened communication: “Nearly all of the synodal consultations saw clear, concise, and consistent communication as key to the strong desire for appropriate transparency … As the Church seeks to continue down the synodal path, a commitment to clear, transparent, and consistent communication will be crucial.”

Turning to discernment, the synthetic document said: “The rediscovery of listening as a basic posture of a Church called to ongoing conversion is one of the most valuable gifts of the synodal experience in the United States.”

According to the report, about 700,000 people participated in the diocesan phase of the synod in the U.S., out of 66.8 million Catholics in the country.

The reports of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the U.S. were not included in the National Synthesis; these were shared directly with the Holy See and will be incorporated into the continental stage of the synod.

The national synthesis concludes the diocesan phase of the Synod of Synodality. The continental stage, in turn, will be a preparation for a Synod of Bishops to be held at the Vatican in 2023.

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  1. Oh, well, the successors of the apostles were marginalized (!) just a bit, when then consented to be cast synodally as “primarily facilitators.” Yes, yes, of course, so far so good; yes, to consultation and discernment… But, meaning what? Just move things along to the next level? On doctrinal matters, how is this protocol much different from shifting clerical sex-abusers from one parish to another?

    But. surely the relator-general Guru Hollerich will get it right. But, already having signaled his corrupted intent: https://www.aol.com/news/liberal-cardinal-calls-revised-catholic-135429645-181222377.html

    About a year ago a stranger wandered in off the street, seated himself at the organ in our parish, and began his own melodious tune. When informed twice and politely that he “ought not to be doing that,” uninvited and shortly before Mass, he finally departed, accusing over his shoulder: “this is not a very welcoming place.” Welcoming?

    There are issues, and consultative listening is important. Yes, but where is the listening in both directions? What, if anything, comes after the so-called synthesis? Nothing more than a safe-space? Kumbaya! Not so long ago, the oft-cited and oft-betrayed Second Vatican Council began with a “Message to Humanity,” which included such as this:

    “Hence, obeying the will of Christ [!], who delivered Himself to death ‘that He might present to Himself the Church, not having spot or wrinkle [!]…but that she might be holy [!] and without blemish,’ we as pastors devote all our energies and thoughts to the renewal [!] of ourselves and the flocks committed to us [“feelings” of inclusion?], so that there may radiate before all men the lovable features of Jesus Christ [who?], who shines in our hearts ‘that God’s splendor may be revealed [not our impressions, “aggregated, compiled and synthesized”?].”

  2. More meaningless twaddle wrapped in pseudo-religious blather from the hirelings who are managing the decline of the Church in the United States and indeed the entire world. There is not a word about the marginalization of and refusal to listen to the traditional, conservative Catholics who have been demonized, stigmatized, and ghettoized simply because they want to pray and believe the way the entire Church has for 2,000 years. Everyone sees that the synod is a farce directed to enshrining homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, contraception masturbation, adultery, divorce, remarriage, female priests, and guilt-free Communion for all in a pan-humanist religion without Jesus Christ.

  3. “Joys, hopes, and wounds” sound nice. Are they platitudinous bromides when detached from revealed truths? Example, “The divorced often feel unwelcome, the report noted, suggesting a more transparent and clear annulment process”, suggesting Catholic divorce. Prominent topic [consistent with Synod relator cardinal Hollerich’s deep, authentic desire for accommodation of homosexual relationships] “Deep, authentic desires to accompany our brothers and sisters, LGBTQ+ persons and their families” suggests a fait accompli. And finally, the piece de resistance, “A more welcoming Church removing barriers [barriers code word for standing doctrine like canon 915] to accessibility to an individual’s sacramental life”.
    O brother bishops, where are you when we need you? Why are you pretending to be cattle drivers moving the mindless herd to market? Does the Bishop of Rome have the wherewithal to cancel your ordinations as defenders of the faith? No! Stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong (1 Cor 16 13).

  4. It has been said that the church is the most exclusive club there is and it is the easiest to join! Like all good clubs, there are rules and ordinances which govern the actions of the members.

    Cardinal principles must be adhered to because our membership was bought at a price (the life of Jesus Christ).

    God calls homosexual practice an “abomination”. For those who openly practice this route and especially those who condone and foster the practice, there is no place in the church unless they repent.

    Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

    Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

    1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

    Luke 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

    Whatever sin besets a man, we have a saviour that we can turn to in our time of temptation or need.

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