The Church in Belgium published the “Synthesis of the synodal process in the Church in Belgium,” on July 6, 2022, bringing together the elements that appeared in the various groups during the meetings organized in preparation for the World Synod on synodality.
According to this report, “the number of participants in the diocesan synodal in each diocese process fluctuates between 2,000 and 4,000.” This means that the number of participants does not exceed 30,000. Take note that more than a million people declare themselves to be practicing Catholics in Belgium.
Only a small number of Catholics therefore responded to the mobilization of the World Synod. But this is not surprising, because the phenomenon affects all countries.
Notebooks of Grievances
Even less surprising, the content bears a strong resemblance to the results recorded in various countries in Europe and beyond. Indications are that the writers copied each other. In fact, the result comes from two models, identical for all: the German Synodal Path, and secularization which perceives the Church based on the model of contemporary societies.
Thus, “the Church is perceived by many believers as endowed with clerical and overly hierarchical structures. It is felt to be moralizing, formalistic, removed from people's lives and intrusive” is noted under the “Challenges” section.
What adds salt to this remark is that “regular churchgoers testify to a relative ignorance of what the Church is and judge it severely.” Thus, the faithful who do not know their catechism are consulted on the structure of the Church, fixed by God himself!
Further, it is noted that “many emphasize the ambivalence of a Church which speaks of a loving God, proclaims the Gospel, and on the other hand, excludes people on the basis of their orientation, because of certain life choices.” And the complement goes further: “many feel that the message of the Church does not correspond to the life of people in our current society.”
What a result! Instead of striving to teach the truth, which is none other than Christ Himself, the Church should be adapted to modern life, steeped in incoherence and sin.
Church Government Must Be Reformed
Just as in the Synodal Path, the text would like to make ecclesiastical government a copy of modern democracy. Let us judge.
A complaint comes up often: “many complain about abuse of power. This disease of clericalism is dangerous because it is infantilizing.” It is the triumph of “clericalism,” launched and popularized by the Pope, which serves to stigmatize all authority, whatever it may be.
“The position of the Church on the obligatory celibacy of priests is often contested. Questions about the place of women in the Catholic Church come up repeatedly. The present discipline of the Church is not understood.” Whose fault is that?
Finally, “the formal structures of the Church are still considered too clerical, as is the formation of priests. The Church is two generations behind.”
The Proposed Solutions
Make churches welcoming to all. But also, “for some, integral ecology is a missionary track for the future and should take up more space.” Amazonize the Church, in short.
Another proposal: “The urgent need to use a renewed and contemporary language – abandoning guilt-inducing and moralizing expressions – is overwhelmingly mentioned.” Discuss, dialogue, yes; but receive the teaching of Jesus Christ, no.
The proof comes later: “during the synodal process, great attention was paid to the link between the Church and teaching. … It appears that this link is no longer self-evident.” I rest my case.
And quite naturally, the question of the marriage of priests and of the female priesthood returns: “Just as in the Eastern Catholic Churches, marriage should be possible for priests in the Roman Catholic Church.” The fact that this state is the fruit of the falsification of a council and that it is very late, has probably not touched the applicants.
“We hope that a more in-depth reflection will be undertaken, so that the Catholic Church can recognize in the future the vocation of women to the priesthood. Excluding certain subjects from the theological agenda goes against a synodal culture in our Church.”
We should suggest studying the possibility of two persons in Jesus Christ, of four persons in God, of the denial of the Immaculate Conception, of the possibility of stealing or even killing one's neighbor... Because we are in the same field: Dogma. But the Belgian pastors have not been able – or have been afraid – to teach their sheep.
Finally, last proposal: “For cohabiting couples, for homosexual couples, and for divorced and remarried persons, it is requested that the Church respond to their request for recognition (ritual and social) on the basis of an interpretation of the relationships and the sexuality more in conformity with the commandment of love.”
What preoccupies the participants, as well as the pastors who validated this synthesis, is expressed in the conclusion: “The feeling that the message of the Church does not correspond to the life of people in our current society is also widely shared. We fail to give an inspiring witness as to what motivates us to people who do not share the Christian faith.”
This inspires a double reflection:
– it would be surprising if the postconciliar Church, which had stayed with a very dated vision of society, and paralyzed by a reform that killed many germs of supernatural life, in particular the traditional catechism, and finally marked by a disastrous liturgical reform, was able to offer a true witness to the Christian life;
– secondly, it is quite normal that the message of the Church does not correspond to today's society, sunk in materialism, atheism, perversions of all kinds, and the rejection of everything that has the name of Christian. But it is not up to the Church to adapt: she must convert souls to procure them eternal salvation. That is what is tragically missing from these pages.