Robert Royal: As the New Synod Opens

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By Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing, Oct. 3, 2018

NoteI am in Rome for the Synod on “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” which begins today. I’ll be here, Deo Volente, essentially the whole month of October. It’s an inopportune time for such an event: the abuse crisis – and the involvement in that crisis of several bishops participating in the synod – have damaged the Church’s credibility with young people. The “Working Document” (Instrumentum Laborisis cumbersome and deeply flawed – more sociology than theology – as our friends Archbishop Chaput and George Weigel have argued. And the “Instrumentum” betrays signs of wanting to move the Church more in the direction of secular culture rather than moving the culture in the direction of the Church. But the show goes on. The Catholic Thing will be bringing you regular synod reports (daily, if warranted) from Rome, as well as our regular columns during October. This is a crucial moment: Oremus pro invicem. – R.R.

Robert RoyalThere was a time when Synods were blessedly boring affairs. Priests, bishops, cardinals, even popes would catch up on their sleep, or correspondence. It’s said that Pope John Paul II even sketched out a book while the proceedings of one such event droned on. Pope Francis has decided to make them much more active – and contentious – affairs.

Just yesterday, Cardinal Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, questioned the “loyalty and honesty” of Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. After the tumultuous 2015 Synod on the Family, Chaput was elected to the Council of the Synod of Bishops (basically the planning committee) with the most votes for any single candidate by the bishops of the whole world. His recent offense? Substantial criticisms of the Working Document intended to guide the month’s proceedings.

Pope Francis’ own latest document on synods, the apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio (Italian, no English yet) seems to aspire to make them almost perennial, like sessions of Congress or Parliament. That text also at least seems to devolve some authority to bishops meeting as a body – an authority that can even become part of the Church’s magisterium – if approved by the pope……Read entire article: