Image(Photo h/t to Eimear McGuinness)
What is about to happen in Rome? The meeting of the
Synod of Bishops due to start this week has prompted diametrically
opposed expectations. There are those who are
alarmed that this gathering of more than 400
bishops, clergy and laity – the latter two
categories are heavily outnumbered – might try to
overthrow key aspects of traditional Catholic
teaching. It will sanction the church celebration of
gay marriages, for instance, or demand the
ordination of women. In the opposite camp are
those who will measure the success or failure of the synod by
precisely the same criteria but in reverse. Both sides are mistaken.
Even though the synod about to open next week is only the first of
two, and no decisive resolutions will be agreed until after the
second one in October next year, the various lobbies treating it as a
battle to be won or lost profoundly misunderstand and
underestimate what is at stake.
The synodal concept requires listening as well as talking.
It requires open, humble and prayerful minds to hear what is being
said. There is a fear that decisions will be made by one side
outvoting the other. When the General Synod of the Church of
England voted to admit women to the priesthood in 1592, the
motion was carried by a margin of two votes. The victors cheered.
Those outvoted felt marginalised. The wound still festers, more
than 30 years later. By contrast, the documents of the Second
Vatican Council were approved almost unanimously. Enormous
time and effort was put into reaching a consensus. It is only in such
circumstances that the true mind of the Church, guided by the Holy
Spirit, can be reliably discerned. -The Tablet editorial, 30
September, 2023, an English Catholic journal.