The final proposals of the Synod

Source: FSSPX News


Normally kept secret and submitted to the pope in order to help him complete his post synodal Exhortation, the “non official” working version of the Synod Fathers’final proposals has been made public for the second time in the history of this institution, created in 1965 by Paul VI. It was only during the 1985Synod, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican Council II, that John Paul II decided to publish such proposals.

 The “final list” of 50 proposals was structured into three headings. After an introduction which is a resumé of the first two proposals, the first chapter deals with “the people of God educated in the faith in the Eucharist”, with sub headings which concern “the faith in the Eucharist”(proposals 3 to 6),  “Eucharist and sacraments”(proposals 7 to 12) and “catechesis and mystagogy” (proposals 13 to 17). The second chapter deals with “the participation of the people of God in the Eucharistic celebration”, in particular, the “structure of the celebration” (proposals 18 to 24), “the ars celebrandi”(proposals 25 to 29) and “the participation of the faithful” (proposals 30 to 37). Finally, the third part concerns “the mission of the people of God nourished by the Eucharist”, notably “the Eucharist and the Christian community” (proposals 38 to 41). Lastly, the 50th proposal, entitled “Verum Corpus natum de Maria virgine”, constitutes the conclusion of the document.

Proposals 11, 40, 41, and 46 deal with the most sensitive questions evoked during this Synod, respectively : the lack of priests, remarried divorcees, access to communion of non-Catholic Christians, and the consistency of Catholic politicians who support laws contrary to the teaching of the Church. Here are several significant excerpts :


Proposal 2. The liturgical reform of Vatican II

“The Synodal Assembly recalls with gratitude the beneficial influence which the liturgical reform, achieved since Vatican Council II, has had on the life of the Church. This reform has revealed the beauty of the Eucharistic action, which is resplendent in the liturgical rite. Abuses have occurred in the past, and they are still happening today, even if they have considerably lessened. However, such incidents cannot mar the goodness and the validity of the reform, whose full riches have not yet been explored”.

 Proposal 5. Eucharist and Church

“(…) Through its ecclesial dimension, the Eucharist  establishes a strong link of unity between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, which have preserved the total nature of the mystery of the Eucharist. The ecclesial character of the Eucharist could even be advantageous in the dialogue with the communities born of the Reform”.


Proposal 10. Modality of Sunday Assemblies in the absence of priests

“In countries where the shortage of priests and important distances make it practically impossible to participate in the Sunday Eucharist, it is important that Christian Communities gather together to praise Our Lord and to remember the day dedicated to Him in communion with the Bishop, like all the local Churches, and with the Universal Church. It is important to specify the nature of the obligation of the faithful to take part in these Sunday assemblies. (…) It is up to the Bishops’ Conferences to make rules for the possibility of distributing Communion. All confusion between the celebration of Holy Mass and Sunday Assemblies in the absence of priests, should be avoided”.


Proposal 11. The lack of priests

“The centrality of the Eucharist for the life of the Church makes the serious lack of priests in several parts of the world to be felt with acute pain. Many faithful are thus deprived of the Bread of Life. In order to respond to the Eucharistic hunger of the people of God , who must often do without Eucharistic celebrations for long periods, it is necessary to have recourse to effective pastoral initiatives”. In this context, the Synod Fathers affirmed the importance of  the inestimable gift of ecclesiastical celibacy in the Latin Church. Referring to the Magisterium, in particular to Vatican Council II and the last pontificate, the Fathers asked that the reasons for the close relationship between celibacy and priestly ordination be appropriately explained to the faithful, with total respect for the tradition of the Eastern Churches. Some referred to the “viri probati", but this hypothesis was considered as not the way to go.


Proposal 26. Inculturation and Eucharistic celebration

To foster a more efficient participation of the faithful to the Eucharist, the Synod desires the promotion of a greater inculturation for the Eucharistic celebration, taking into account the possibilities of adaptation offered by the General Institution of the Roman Missal, as well as the criteria set by the 1994 Instruction from the Congregation for divine worship, and the directives put forth in the post-synodal Exhortations Ecclesia in Africa, Ecclesia in Asia, Ecclesia in Oceania, Ecclesia in America. To this end, the bishops’ conferences take upon themselves the full responsibility of developing attempts at inculturation, while working for the right balance between the criteria already quoted and the new adaptations.

Proposal 40. Remarried divorcees and the Eucharist

In  keeping with many  statements from the Magisterium of the Church and sharing the concerns for people’s sufferings expressed by many Fathers, the Synod of Bishops reaffirmed the importance of an attitude and a pastoral action expressing care and welcome to the faithful who are divorced and have remarried. According to the Tradition of the Catholic Church, they may not be admitted to Holy Communion, finding themselves in circumstances objectively in contradiction to the Word of Our Lord who gave to marriage the value of indissolubility (…). Remarried divorcees do however belong to the Church, which welcomes them and follows them with particular attention(…).

At the same time, the Synod wishes that every possible effort be made to ensure a pastoral character, a presence and a solicitude in the activities of Church tribunals for cases of matrimonial nullity  (cf. Dignitatis connubii), and that the elements taken into consideration for the validity of marriage be examined in more detail, noting the new problems which have arisen in the context of the profound anthropological changes of our times(…).


Proposal 41. Admission of non-Catholics to Communion 

We ask that non-Catholic Christians understand and respect the fact that for us, according to established biblical tradition, Eucharistic communion with non-Catholic Christians is not generally possible. Ecumenical concelebration is even more out of the question. But at the same time, the fact must be made clear that with regard to personal salvation, the admission of non-Catholic Christians to the Eucharist (…) is possible in specified individual situations, under particular conditions.


Proposal 46. The consistency of Catholic politicians who support laws contrary to the teaching of the Church

Politicians and Catholic legislators are called upon to “be made sensitive by their well-formed conscience, to the serious social responsibility of presenting and supporting iniquitous laws”. “There is no Eucharistic consistency when laws are promulgated which run counter to the common good of man, to justice and to the natural law. The private option cannot be separated from the public one, in opposing God’s law and the teaching of the Church, and this must be considered also in the face of the reality of the Eucharist. By putting into practice this orientation, may the bishops exercise the virtues of strength and prudence taking into account local actual situations”.

 Furthermore, the Synod Fathers ask for a better study of the practice of concelebration when the number of priests is very high”, recommending the importance of genuflection  during important moments of the Eucharistic prayer”, and recalling that “the priest is, in an irreplaceable manner, the one who presides over the entire Eucharistic celebration”. Thus, proposal no. 33 asks that the collaboration of the laity at liturgical services  take place “according to genuine needs”, and that the persons be “chosen with care, well prepared and that they undergo a continuous on-going training”.

 The list of proposals reaffirms the “central character of Sunday and of the Sunday Eucharistic celebration”, it also “strongly” encourages Eucharistic adoration, demanding, for example, that “where possible, churches where the Blessed Sacrament is present, remain open”. The Synod Fathers recall that “the state of grace “ is necessary in order to receive Communion and recommends that bishops “do not allow general absolution in their dioceses, except in objectively exceptional circumstances” anticipated by the Church. The Synod also encourages “a renewed cathechesis “ of the practice of indulgences and furthermore asks that Communion be given “to baptized and confirmed mentally handicapped people”.

The document again incites to greater care in the preparation of sermons, suggesting that they should take up the different themes of the Christian faith throughout the year. Side by side with these traditional reminders, there was also the following  proposal that  : Eucharistic prayers “could be enriched by acclamations”, as is already the case with children’s assemblies.