Run, don’t walk, to read it.  Summary view of the 2018 Synod (“walking together”)

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. bigtex says:

    Well maybe this crisis will finally cure George Weigel of his Catholic neoConservatism, but I doubt it.

  2. chantgirl says:

    I am left asking “why”?

    Why the huge expense, why the facade of open dialogue, the thin veneer of brotherhood among hand-selected participants chosen to rubber stamp preordained new statements from the God of surprises? We can see the manipulation clearly, so why bother with the charade?

    No one, popes included, can change Church teaching period, still less based on a small, hand-selected group of participants, some of whom are laity and some not even Catholic. The majority of Bishops were not involved, so any outcome cannot be claimed to be an agreement among the brethren. We might as well only allow the inhabitants of Illinois, New York, and California vote for the president of the US and claim the result as the will of the people.

    The only people who are experiencing their paths diverging and beginning to walk together after this synod are the trads and the conservatives in the Church. Francis is beginning to unite people who normally avoid each other like the plague.

  3. Philomena Mary says:

    I honestly could have done without the snide potshot at “ultra-traditionalists at War with Vatican II” – that kind of comment makes me significantly less inclined to want to keep reading.

  4. Pingback: Run, don?t walk, to read it. Summary view of the 2018 Synod – Rapid Action News

  5. TonyO says:

    You can see Francis’ papacy getting more and more brazen about ousting real, orthodox Catholicism the farther he gets from his elevation to the white hat. At first he was tentative and made all sorts of “gaffes” only verbally and not in written documents. But a couple years ago he didn’t like the outcome of the first synod on the family and so he (quietly) rigged the second, and then he wrote whatever he darn well wanted for the apostolic exhortation (if you want to call it that) which didn’t express the intention of the synod Fathers. Then he stonewalled four of his cardinals on the Dubia. And now, this year, he openly rigged the synod, openly rigged the draft final report, and (so we hear from LifeSite) threw a bishop out of his diocese without even giving a cause, in an act of blatant, stalinesque power and fear-instilling. Not to mention stonewalling the entirety of the Church on the McCarrick scandal, calling it “clericalism” to sow confusion, and writing to McCarrick effectively saying ‘there’s a good fellow, don’t let your entirely unfair situation get you down’.

    It’s not that I don’t like what this pope is doing. Popes can be pope whether I like them or not. It’s that he isn’t even pretending, anymore, to act in a papal manner. These are not the behaviors of a pope, they are the acts of a thug, an Idi Amin, a Colonel Gaddafi, a Bashar Assad. If this weren’t all obviously directed towards a quite understandable goal (albeit one that is not Catholic), one would be tempted to say he was suffering from some sort of dementia, but that is clearly not the case.

  6. maternalView says:

    Having read Goodbye, Good Men and Amchurch Comes Out among others it’s clear to me that the Pope’s and various bishops’ behavior follow a certain modus operandi that has been in use for decades. These are not simply men who disagree on interpretation or execution of a teaching, they have an agenda. And that agenda is political.

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