At the UK’s (and soon to be also USA’s) best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald, you must… I repeat MUST… read George Weigel’s biting postscript on the 2018 Synod (“walking together”). HERE Weigel’s is the first of several postscript “letters” posted together.
Weigel is as scathing as he is comprehensive in his synodal retrospective. He effectively and rightly flays the hide from the managers of this edition of “walking together”. For example, Weigel exposes how a discussion of “synodality” was smuggled into the final document. He observes that a push toward “synodality” will ultimately break down into regional variants, a concern that seems dead on target:
And before long, the Catholic Church would have been deconstructed into a simulacrum of the Anglican Communion, a lot of which is dying from, among other things, a surfeit of “synodality.”
Against charges sure to emerge from the portside of the Barque of Peter, it must be underscored that these are not the concerns of Ultra-Traditionalists at war with Vatican II. Rather, they are the entirely legitimate concerns of some of the Church’s most dynamic bishops, all of whom are proponents of the New Evangelization. What they see in this local-option Catholicism is a prescription for utter incoherence leading to evangelical failure.
It is interesting that Trotsky’s famous phrase “permanent revolution” came up while they were “walking together”.
Weigel has spent a considerable number of his years writing about John Paul II. For a couple years I have been saying on this blog that those around Francis are purposely, methodically, trying to snuff out the magisterial teaching of John Paul. Weigel wrote this:
Cleaning the Slate or The Missing Pope
At a dinner during the Synod’s final week, the Polish bishops at Synod-2018 – Stanisław Gądecki, archbishop of Poznań, and Grzegorz Ryś, archbishop of Łódż – wondered aloud why there was no reference in the draft final report to the teaching or experience of John Paul II, the most successful papal youth minister in modern history and the author of the Theology of the Body, Catholicism’s most developed (and persuasive) answer to the claims of the sexual revolution. Similar questions were posed to me by Cardinal Kamimierz Nycz and his auxiliaries when I met with them in Warsaw during a brief visit there during the Synod. Thanks to an amendment proposed by the two Poles, the Theology of the Body did get a mention in the Really Final Draft Final Report (as did the Catechism of the Catholic Church). Still, the questions the archbishops raised were not misplaced, and one possible answer to them sheds further light on the Church’s immediate future.
The first thing to be noticed about this attempted airbrushing is that it is quite out of character in high-level Church documents. Vatican II made copious references to the magisterium of previous popes, especially Pius XII. In their magisterium, John Paul II and Benedict XVI made similar, extensive references to the work of their predecessors. This was not simply a question of good manners; it had a serious theological purpose, which was to demonstrate that, even as the Church’s thinking and teaching develops, that developed thought is in continuity with what has gone before, even as the Church’s experience and reflection leads it to draw new meanings from the treasure chest of the Deposit of Faith.
This now seems to have stopped. Amoris Laetitia, [there it is!] the apostolic exhortation completing the work of the Synods of 2014 and 2015, only quoted John Paul’s apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, Familiaris Consortio, in a bowdlerized form. John Paul’s encyclical on the renewal of Catholic moral theology, Veritatis Splendor, has virtually disappeared in the present pontificate. Now comes Synod-2018, which struck concerned Synod fathers as a deliberate attempt to marginalize the pope who reinvented Catholic young adult ministry in his extensive pilgrimages and in the phenomenon of World Youth Day (which other Synod fathers actually proposed eliminating).
No one is entirely sure what is going on here. But it is not beyond the bounds of propriety to suggest that, in today’s Rome, there is a devaluing of continuity coupled with a misunderstanding of the development of doctrine and a fascination with papal autocracy. More-than-hints of that were already evident at Synod-2014 and Synod-2015, and one prominent proponent of Pope Francis’s style of governance has even suggested that his “discernment” is independent of Scripture and tradition [Remember that? HERE Fr. Thomas Rosica – part-time pipe, full-time partisan – openly said that Francis, who can “discern”, is beyond tradition and Scripture.] – a species of ultramontanism that would make Henry Edward Manning and Alfredo Ottaviani blush. The problem has now come into clearer focus, and it was deeply disturbing to more than a few of the bishops at Synod-2018.
I could go on with examples of Weigel’s synthetic summary. His acid comments about Card. Baldisseri can only be improved by the consumption of popcorn.
Run, don’t walk, to read it. For your convenience… HERE
For extra credit reading, check out the Natholic Catholic Register. The great Ed Pentin interviewed Archbp. Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia. He was on the information commission for this Synod and he was elected to the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops, which will prepare the next
fiasco... Synod. As one of my correspondent’s put it: He is “politely devastating”. As a matter of fact, the first thing he says when asked how the Synod went was:
Like the curate’s egg, it was good in parts.
Ouch. If you don’t know that phrase, “the curate’s egg”, try this HERE.