The Church in a State of Permanent Synod (1)

Source: FSSPX News

On October 16, 2022, at the end of the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis announced that the 16th Assembly of the Synod of Bishops would be held at the Vatican in two sessions to be held one year apart. The first will take place from October 4 to 29, 2023, and the second is scheduled for October 2024.

This announcement inspired some timely thoughts for Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli on his blog on October 22. He is ironic about “the extension of the synod on synodality and the triumph of the new dogmas of the antidogmatic Church.”

The Italian journalist writes with great common sense: “Already, a synod on synodality raises perplexities. The Church, which should not be “self-referential,” withdraws into itself and increasingly sees herself as an entirely human institution. And Francis' decision to extend the synod until 2024 reinforces this perplexity.”

“The Church puts herself here, in a way, in a state of permanent assembly, an assemblyism reminiscent 1968, and whose outcome is easy to predict: an orgy of buzzwords. Discernment here and discernment there; listen and walk, walk and listen. With the usual condemnations addressed to the ‘rigid.’”

He continues: “Thus, from ‘event,’ the synod becomes “process.” Process. Another buzzword. Which will translate into the usual production of indeterminations, of yeses that are also noes, of noes that are also yeses, of vague formulas that attempt to hold everything and its opposite together. Because you don't have to be 'rigid'.”

“Born under the sign of collegiality, and there would already be much to say on this subject, the synod flows into assemblyism. But a rigged assembly, because already with the 2014-2015 Synod on the Family, the pope forced his hand in relation to the positions of the bishops, and in fact managed it by piloting it from the center. And so it is now.”

“The assemblyism that is looming on the horizon will therefore provide the possibility of introducing doctrinal changes in the name of decentralization. Magisterial authority will be further devalued, confusion will be even more pronounced, and the people, the beloved people of whom there is so much talk, will be even more confused.”

Here Aldo Maria Valli underlines a contradiction that does not escape the most lucid observers: “In the antidogmatic Church, new dogmas are accumulating: alongside walking and listening, synodality now has its place. Another magic word has been added to the list. The rule is that the vaguer the meaning, the better.”

“The decision to extend the synod on synodality serves the idea that the Church must always be in synod. That is to say, more and more liquid. A permanent assemblyism that accompanies authority and itself becomes a magisterium. With the result of legitimizing everything. Because a Church that walks, listens and discerns, a Church in synod, is not a Church that decides, that sets limits, but an ‘open’ and ‘outgoing’ Church.

“Let’s prepare for the deluge of empty words and ambiguous formulas. The new dogmas of the anti-dogmatic Church are emerging and will be manipulated in an ever more blatant manner.”

A Council in Disguise

In Vatican Monday of October 24, Andrea Gagliarducci also points out the danger of a Church in a state of permanent synod: “Pope Francis has placed the Church in permanent state of synod for some time. The Synod on the Family was held in two sessions, in 2014 and 2015.”

“After the Synod on Youth in 2018, there was a Special Synod on the Pan-Amazon region in 2019. With the current synod journey, which will continue to 2024, it can be said that more than half of the years of Pope Francis’ pontificate has been with the Church in a state of Synod.”

The Italian Vaticanist considers that Francis believes that the synodal way is the “a better means of carrying forward the idea of ​​the Church that he has in mind.” He continues, “At the beginning of the pontificate, there was much fear that Pope Francis might convene a Vatican Council III. This permanent Synod appears to be a council in disguise.”

“The only difference is that the significant issues are not discussed openly by bishops and experts in a transparent and dynamic assembly. The great themes arise in the synodal discussions, in situations with no deliverables but only steps forward or backward, which will then be up to the authority to define. The authority, however, does not determine them but instead continues this permanent discussion.”

And he notes with accuracy: “Perhaps it is precisely because the Pope does not take a clear-cut position that some episcopal conferences have gone a long way on their own, arriving at proposals for substantial doctrinal changes. This is the case of the synodal journey of the Church in Germany, but not only.”

“You can read the national reports of this Synod of France, Germany, and Switzerland to see where we are moving at the doctrinal level, not to mention the decision of the bishops of Flanders in Belgium to define a model for the blessing of homosexual couples.”

Andrea Gagliarducci deplores the apparently “fluid” approach of the pope who, however, “presents himself as a natural decision-maker, and no discussion has led him not to make decisions. Just think of the reform of the Curia, made and promulgated almost always outside the meetings of the Council of Cardinals.”

In fact, “The Pope, however, does not take precise positions in the debates. He leaves everyone the opportunity to interpret, and only later does he let it be understood what, according to him, could be the best interpretation. Thus, he leaves everything as it is, simultaneously changing everything.”

“The Pope remains the central reference point, but above all, in government cases.… On doctrinal issues, everything seems suspended, apart from some decisions that, however, concern the liturgical sphere – such as the abolition of the liberalization of the Usus Antiquior Mass.”