Synod on Synodality: A Summary of the Diocesan Phase in France

June 20, 2022
Our Lady of Fourvière

Last June 15, the bishops of France presented the synthesis – or the collection as they call it – of the diocesan or particular synodal syntheses, before sending it to Rome with a brief accompanying document, following an extraordinary meeting in Lyon.

This document regrets that the synodal process did not reach the “people of God” in their diversity, especially the younger generations. A finding which is also that of other countries such as Spain.

The collection specifies that the synodal process mobilized more than 150,000 people in France, which represents only 10% of practicing Catholics – compared to the 215,000 people announced by the Spanish document.

It is truly a leitmotif: the adjective “fraternal” is found nine times in a document of less than 12 pages. And “listen,” 19 times.

The first point raised by the collection is the importance of “getting fresh ideas from the Word of God.” Which may be a good thing, but unfortunately the document recognizes a significant lack of training elsewhere. However, to be formed, it is not the Bible that one must read, but the catechism. Certainly, reading the Holy Gospel is always enriching if, and only if, the reader has first had a good formation, otherwise the error of interpretation is inevitable.

This chapter calls for a better formation in the homiletics of priests. But “this would also concern any lay person called to preach.” These people will soon be discussed.

The second chapter asks to “give credible signs of the goodness of God and of the equal dignity of the baptized.” This will be manifested first of all by the continuation of the experience of synodality. In other words, the Church in a state of synod.

And the second manifestation must be to have “ministries at the service of the encounter between God and the people.” It is above all a question of priests, for whom it is “regularly wished that celibacy be left to their free choice, so that priestly ordination and marriage are compatible.”

Faced with such a proposal from the Dutch “pastoral council,” Paul VI reacted strongly. But what will Francis do, who solicited the faithful knowing perfectly well that it would be an inevitable request?

The third credible sign concerns “the equal dignity of the baptized.” The collection explains that “on the question of the place given to women in the Church, the syntheses perceive an urgency as well as innumerable wounds.”

“The wounds come from difficulties in relations with priests and bishops, from the glaring disproportion between the number of women involved in the Church and women who are in a position to make decisions. If the service of women is appreciated, their voice seems to be ignored. That they effectively contribute to the multiple discernments of the local Churches is the object of a glaring expectation.”

“It is here that an urgency is identified in many syntheses. The way women are treated in the Church is not adjusted to its mission, at a time when equality between men and women has become common evidence.”

The consequence that is drawn from this is especially the request that women be able to deliver the homily, but also that they can be ordained to the priesthood. Which is strictly impossible, by divine right.

A fourth credible sign is required: co-responsibility between clerics and laity. Which means at the diocesan level: the demand for authentic checks and balances – for example with councils made up of elected baptized persons; the existence of a real subsidiarity, which consists in delegating decision-making; and, finally, that lay people called to responsibilities be offered appropriate formation.

Finally, the liturgy also appears in the credible signs to be put in place. This is yet another opportunity to drive home the point: “The mentions of a deep disagreement with the refusal to allow girls to serve at the altar or of women entering the choir for a liturgical service are so numerous, that there can be no doubt of a real experienced suffering and of a pressing expectation on this subject.”

Finally, the third chapter is entitled “Living as brothers and sisters in Christ.” It is divided into “serving the fraternity” and “cultivating listening and dialogue.” This is an opportunity to confuse true fraternity, that which unites the members of Christ, and a vague universal fraternity, which must embrace everything and everyone.

If the benevolence and charity of the disciple of Christ should make him love everyone, this does not mean that everyone can freely access the sacraments. This is indeed the central claim of the paragraph:

In many syntheses “often resounds the suffering of those who feel excluded from the communities and/or the sacraments (homosexual, divorced and remarried people, etc.), as well as those who witness such exclusions. According to a large number of syntheses, these constitute serious counter-testimony.”

The religious columnist of Le Figaro, commenting on this report, titled: “The bishops of France ready for a big bang in the Church.” Unfortunately, this is still far from reality. This synthesis shows above all that the big bang has already taken place.

Admittedly, it is quite clear that it was the most progressive fringe of French Catholics who participated in this synodal process. But it is precisely the active minority that has weight. And this part simply does not know what the Catholic religion is anymore, which they confuse with a vague religious feeling. Pascendi said it so well and announced it: we are there.

A second conclusion is the similarity of a number of demands with the revolution of the German Synodal Path. And that is not surprising, the latter was two or three steps ahead, and marked out “listening and dialogue” in the Universal Synod.

Finally, the third conclusion is the overwhelming responsibility of Pope Francis. In fact, the disorder already created in the minds and which, soon, will be played out on the ground, is entirely because of him. When these results – real grievances – are only partially approved, which will already be far too many, what will the disappointed troops do? They will desert.

This has already been proven by the Dutch “pastoral council,” a true anticipation of this Synod, the disaster from which the Church in the Netherlands has still not recovered.