Synod: The Pope Plays For Extra Time

Source: FSSPX News

The official poster of the Synod on Synodality with the new dates

Pope Francis has just announced that the world synod of bishops will be extended until 2024. Is this a change of program “in continuity with the synodal path in progress,” as advanced by the Vatican, or rather the revelation of the deep fissures within the Church under the current pontificate?

The news was announced in front of 20,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square to attend the Angelus ceremony on October 16, 2022.

A surprise for some, an expected decision for others, but one thing appears certain: the shark in the sea of the synod on synodality has not finished making circles in the water. “The fruits of the synodal process which has begun are numerous, but to reach full maturity, you must not be in a hurry,” declared the Sovereign Pontiff.

Also, “in order to have a longer time for discernment,” Pope Francis has decided to extend the final phase of the synod until October 2024: “I hope that this decision will enable the promotion of the understanding of synodality as a constitutive dimension of the Church and help everyone to live it in a journey of brothers and sisters who bear witness to the joy of the Gospel,” he added.

As far as of the Holy See is concerned, this sudden reversal should be seen more as a question of method, since the synod of bishops must take on “a procedural dimension, configuring itself as ‘a journey within a journey’ in order to favor a more mature reflection for the greater good of the Church,” as explained by the general secretariat of the synod.

The Director of the Dicastery for Communication advances a justification: “The announcement made by Pope Francis at the Angelus tells us that synodality in the Church is a process and not just ‘window dressing’ consisting of a hasty adjustment of a ecclesial structure within which nothing would actually change. Extending the ordinary assembly of the Synod means, in fact, considering that the method is more important than the major themes addressed,” comments Andrea Tornielli.

Several observers of the current pontificate indeed underline the reluctance – even the inability – of the current pope to firmly oppose the excesses of the German Synodal Path, some of whose proposals are in formal contradiction with the divine constitution of the Catholic Church.

However, it has been noted in the past that, when confronted with progressive episcopates who urge him to adopt the most radical disciplinary measures, Pope Francis prefers to “kick the can down the road,” by putting the most thorny subjects on the back burner, as was the case for the ordination of women to the diaconate. It should be noted in passing that his methods are less gentle and consensual when it comes to dealing with the traditional liturgy, but let's move on.

If this hypothesis is correct, the synod could be established over time, and the “synodal journey,” mentioned by the Holy See communicators, is likely to continue until the end of the current pontificate.