Cardinal Cupich: ‘Nothing to be feared’ from ‘ancient reality’ of synod


Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago. / Credit: Daniel IbanezCNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 7, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, urged Catholics to shed any fears or concerns of the upcoming Synod on Synodality, declaring the gathering to be part of an ancient Catholic tradition that seeks how to “remain faithful to Christ’s own plan” for the Church.

A “synod” is a periodic gathering of bishops in the Catholic Church to address questions of the Church’s faith, morals, and practices. Next month’s synod, the first since 2018, will address synodality itself, which the Vatican defines in part as “the involvement and participation of the whole people of God in the life and mission of the Church.”

Some commentators have expressed concern that the bishops at the synod may move toward proposals for the Church that have been rebuked and discredited by Catholic authorities, including the ordination of women.

In an Aug. 30 letter published in the Chicago archdiocesan newspaper Chicago Catholic, Cupich accused synod critics of “stoking fears” by suggesting that the gathering could “radically alter Church teaching and practice.”

“History has shown that the use of fear tactics by those who resist any kind of renewal that involves change is not new,” the archbishop said.

He cited St. John XXIII’s warning, given at the outset of the Second Vatican Council, to beware of “prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster” in the life of the Church.

Critics of the synod “totally mischaracterize” its aims and intentions, Cupich said. The bishops at the meeting will be primarily examining how Catholics are “to remain faithful to Christ’s own plan for the Church,” he argued.

Pope Francis’ calling of the synod, Cupich said, is “in keeping with the vision of his predecessors” and with Vatican II, the cardinal argued; the concept of “synodality” itself “speaks to an ancient reality” of the Catholic Church.

The archbishop cited the Vatican International Theological Commission’s argument that “making a synodal Church a reality is an indispensable precondition for a new missionary energy that will involve the entire people of God.”

“That surely is nothing ever to be feared,” Cupich said.

Cupich is among the delegates traveling to the Vatican next month for the synod, taking place Oct. 4–28.

Next month’s gathering is one part of the multiyear synod process called by Pope Francis in 2021. A second meeting at the Vatican will take place in October 2024.

The event had originally been scheduled to conclude this year, though last year Pope Francis announced the extension of the synod until 2024 “in order to have a more relaxed period of discernment.”

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    The ITC also said THIS: “…It is essential that, taken as a whole, the participants give a meaningful and balanced image of the local Church, reflecting different vocations, ministries, charisms, competencies, social status and geographical origin. The bishop, the successor of the apostles and shepherd of his flock who convokes and presides over the local Church synod, is called to exercise there the ministry of unity and leadership with the authority which belongs to him” (n. 79, italics added).”

    The “authority which belongs to him” as an accountable Successor of the Apostles?

    How does this square with the muzzling of bishops “primarily as facilitators,” with the synodal collage of flip-chart concerns to be sorted out only later by a buffer of “experts,” and then by bishops now voting together with laity on even matters of innate and universal morality and internal Catholic ecclesiology?

    The cardinal also cites the SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, which warned against the laicization of the clergy and the clericalization of the laity:

    “Though they differ from one another in essence [!] and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated” (Lumen Gentium, n. 10). The legitimate doubts would not persist, had not the Holy Father offered only silence to the dubia—that is, to the part in the magisterium retained by innate natural law and, therefore, reflected in the Catechism, and Veritatis Splendor (nn. 95, 115).

    The respectful concern disdained by the cardinal, precisely is NOT that the synod will “radically alter Church teaching and practice,” but rather that the synod will BOTH retain Church teaching at one level AND then enable practices which are contradictory (an schizophrenic evolution foreseen and addressed, clearly, in Veritatis Splendor, n. 56).

    Perhaps the “relaxed period of discernment” before 2024, promised by the cardinal, will inspire and even require synodalists of, yes, good intention to engage more in actual listening—LISTENING that is less polarizing, less selective, less inattentive and less agenda-driven (?). And, as is required every day by plain ol’ marriage counselors dealing with couples having similar marital communication problems?

    Or, maybe the Cardinal & Co. intend to keep hogging the microphone the way he did at the USCCB meeting when he butted the president, Cardinal DiNardo, aside? Parsing a dead white dude named Shakespeare, “The fault is not in our stars, but in our adolescent and exploitable institutional architecture, and in our eagerness to bend the Eighth Commandment.”

  2. More bovine effusion. 🤮

    The problem with the Synods of Pope Francis is they are leaving Sacred Scripture, Tradition and all previous pontificates to make stuff up, like the toleration of concubinage. And the IL says it plans to open us up to all manner of heteropraxy, like inviting a “blessing” for same-sex unions.

    For a decade the Emperor has no clothes. Cardinal Cupich says: “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

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