At the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald – soon to have a US version! – comes this alarming report about the workings of the Synod (“walking together”).
Analysis: Will bishops push for clarity on the synod’s procedural rules?
Two weeks in, decisions about the synod’s rules have still not been announced
Recent changes to canon law have left some bishops attending the 2018 Synod of Bishops uncertain about the meeting’s procedural rules. Unanswered questions about the synod’s norms could have significant effect on how the meeting’s final documents are regarded in the Church, and by the synod fathers themselves.
The synod’s undersecretary, Bishop Fabio Fabene, told reporters in early October that because of changes Pope Francis made to synod policies Sept. 15, the Vatican had not yet decided on the exact rules for this month’s synod.
Asked whether synod participants would be able to vote on individual provisions of the document as they have in prior meetings, Fabene said it would depend on what emerged from the synod, adding that “as we move along, we will decide.” [I see. If we have this result, we’ll do this. If we get that result, we’ll do that. So lons as we get the result we desire.]
But two weeks into the gathering, decisions about the synod’s procedural and voting rules have not yet been announced. Several synod fathers have told CNA they are confused about the rules, or uncertain about how the synod’s voting process will actually work.
In the absence of clear norms, some observers have begun to ask whether the 2018 synod will prove to be an authentic consultation of the world’s bishops, or an exercise only in the appearance of “synodality.” [Could it be that there was a predetermined outcome?]
But the 2006 rescript Ordo synodi episcoporum established the most detailed procedural rules for every aspect of a synod of bishops, among them the election of members; the appointment, work, and authority of the general secretariat and general relator; and the voting on proposals (modi) and documents, including the points to be included in the final report.
Ordo synodi episcoporum required that modi and documents be voted on according to a procedure allowing bishops to make additional amendments, and delineating specific cases when a 2/3 majority of voting bishops would be required, and others cases that would require only an absolute majority (50 percent+1) of bishops.
According to those procedural rules, synod fathers were able to vote on proposals made for amendments or additions to the document, and eventually to vote on their approval of the document as a whole; those votes would require 2/3s majorities.
Though these procedural norms were tweaked in recent years, they remained largely intact. [BUT!…] But on Sept. 15, they were abrogated- revoked– when Pope Francis promulgated a new document governing synods, the apostolic constitution Episcopalis communio.
Episcopalis communio eliminates nearly all specific procedural norms pertaining to the synod, including the established procedures for proposing amendments and for voting, and sets no specific approval thresholds for documents generated by the synod.
Instead of establishing specific rules, the September document calls on the General Secretary for Synod of Bishops, now Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, to issue instructions on those matters, and “regulations for each Synod Assembly.”
No such instructions or regulations seem to have been issued for the current synod, at least not publicly.
Can you imagine a business or the military or even a family going forward like this?
How many ways are there to rig a Synod, again?