In a communication dated October 15, Msgr. Wolfgang Haas, Archbishop of Vaduz, explains to all his priests and faithful that he has decided not to participate in the Synod on Synodality, officially launched by Pope Francis on October 17, 2021.
The communiqué is titled: “A Word from the Archbishop of Vaduz on the 'Synodal Process' in the Church.”
The prelate begins by explaining that “Pope Francis has launched a worldwide ‘synodal process,’ which must now be implemented in the various dioceses. To this end, the Secretariat of the Roman Synod of Bishops has already published a series of documents in several languages, which are accessible via the Internet.”
But the Archbishop consider this process is not for his diocese: “I am of the opinion that in our small archdiocese, we can abstain for good reasons from carrying out such a complex and sometimes even complicated procedure, which in our latitudes runs the risk of becoming ideological.”
The former bishop of Chur has first hand knowledge about which he speaks: his appointment was very badly received by the progressive Catholics of his diocese, and he had to undergo a veritable war—against, for example, the refusal of dissidents to provide for the needs of the Church by withholding monetary donations—and he was finally “moved” to a part of his diocese, purposely carved out to make the new archbishopric of Vaduz.
He adds a reason based on common sense for an archdiocese that covers 160 km2 and has 23 priests for 10 parishes: “For one thing, the close relations in our parishes allow rapid and simple mutual contact between pastors and lay people, so that an intellectual and spiritual exchange has always been and remains possible.”
This easy closeness means that “all those who so wish can dialogue with one another, listen to each other and have personal communication about suggestions, wishes, and ideas in the daily life of the Church.”
The prelate also notes that “in all the institutions…there are constant relations between interested persons in which a responsible, tactful, and sensible interaction can take place.”
He also recalls that “anyone who wishes to express in writing their wishes, concerns, and suggestions regarding the organization of ecclesial life in our diocese can always do so and contact the Archbishop or the Vicariate General directly.”
Finally he ends with a touch that could almost be taken as teasing irony: “In the ‘Vademecum for the synod on synodality,’ official manual for the deliberations in the local churches, the main task of the bishop is considered to be listening, and not big discussions and long debates.”
He then refocuses the spirit of reform, in the good sense of the word, on the essential: “It is about listening to what the Holy Spirit wants to tell us. This listening presupposes our prayer for the spiritual gift of discernment. First of all, I would like to encourage prayer for this special gift and ask for God's blessing on everyone.”
The press release has of course already been criticized by some who see it as an expression of contempt for Rome. While this bishop has shown only solid common sense, and spared himself, his priests, and his flock a lot of trouble for a questionable business.