Bishop McElroy and a US ‘Synodal Path’: What Would That Mean? by Joan Frawley Desmond

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U.S. bishops meet in Baltimore earlier this month. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

The San Diego bishop is calling for a sweeping adoption of ‘synodality’ in the American context, but analysts say the concept needs a clearer definition before it can be endorsed.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, 11/20/19

WASHINGTON — Shortly after returning from the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazon Region in late October, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego called for a sweeping adoption of “synodality” as a new model for a wounded Church in need of healing from the clergy abuse crisis.

The Church in the United States, he said Nov. 6 at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, should embrace a “synodal pathway … filled with deep and broad consultation, the willingness to accept arduous choices, the search for renewal and reform at every level, and unswerving faith in the constancy of God’s presence in the community.”

He pointed to the V Encuentro, a synod-like gathering that took place Sept. 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas. Attended by more than 3,000 Hispanic Catholics, including laity, priests, consecrated religious and bishops, V Encuentro, the bishop said, was grounded in “dialogue, reflection and action” at all levels of the Church, including “thousands of Hispanic young adults,” as an inspiring exercise in synodality.

But the Encuentro, he allowed, was just the starting point for a more ambitious participatory process that would tackle “questions of governance, inclusion, clericalism and lay ministries.”

Apparently timed to influence the U.S. bishops’ deliberations at their annual fall assembly this month in Baltimore, Bishop McElroy’s argument failed to get much traction, as conference members focused on more immediate priorities. ….

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