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In March, the Vatican announced its three-phase Synod on Synodality, which will conclude in October 2023 with a general assembly of the synod of bishops in Rome. Church Militant's Hunter Bradford uncovers the new synod, which some believe may be the most monumental Church meeting since the Second Vatican Council.
The Synod on Synodality can best be described with the following three words: "encounter," "listen" and "discern."
Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of the first phase of the synod, which asks each diocese to "undertake a consultation process with the local church from October 2021 until April 2022."
Pope Francis, successor of Peter: "Listen to yourself; talk and listen to each other. It's not about gathering opinions, no. This is not an investigation, but it is a question of listening to the Holy Spirit."
Listening is important in any conversation or dialogue. But with 69% of Catholics not believing in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, 77% believing contraception is OK and many not even attending Mass regularly, what exactly will participants be listening to? They surely will be listening to a spirit, but will it be the Holy Spirit?
The Vatican wrote a handbook to help each diocese in the dialogue, stating, "Special care should be taken to involve those persons who may risk being excluded: women, the handicapped, refugees, migrants, the elderly, people who live in poverty, and Catholics who rarely or never practice their Faith."
Father Tom Weinandy, former member of the Vatican's International Theological Commission, noted the Synod could be weaponized for evil or be a powerful tool for authentic reform: "It would appear that everyone, even non-Catholic, can express their various opinions on a whole variety of topics. However, if such opinions are contrary to the Faith of the Church, and these opinions are loudly proclaimed, then chaos will ensue."
Dr. Gavin Ashenden, former Anglican bishop and now faithful lay Catholic, knows full well synodality's potential to be poison.
Dr. Gavin Ashenden: "What synodality does for me in my experience of the Church of England is that it invites lay people, who have no record of prayer, no record of theological study, no record of understanding the Magisterium, to sit in judgment on ethical issues that the Church faces."
If the German Synodal Path is any indication of this synod, the faithful will need to buckle up.
In the 60-page official handbook given by the Vatican for the dioceses, the term "Holy Spirit" came up 50 times.