What a "Toxic Nightmare" Looks Like
Yesterday (30th Jan 2023) Cardinals Grech & Hollerich — Secretary General & General Relator of the Synod on Synodality — sent a letter to all bishops on the role of bishops in the synodal process.
To state the blindingly obvious, this would seem to be a bit late on in the process to be explaining to bishops what exactly it is they are supposed to have been doing for the last few years, but perhaps that is because no one has much of a clue.
Even their own website is baffling.
The whole thing seems to be word salad.
In their letter, Grech and Hollerich also say that they wish to clarify any misunderstanding over what the Synod is truly about. Sadly, if that truly was their intention, this letter fails miserably.
What the letter does do is desperately try to tie synodality to Vatican II ( a reminder that synodality is a complete novelty and appears nowhere in Vatican II's documents) and also tries to use Lumen Gentium 12 to force a deeply spurious argumentum ad populum: suggesting the entire “holy People of God share also in Christ’s prophetic office”... LG 12 and indeed the whole of the documents of Vatican II stress the need for proper formation, a theme utterly absent from the whole synod discussion.
Perhaps this letter arose from wide spread criticisms that the process reduces bishops, who are bound to propose and explain to the faithful the truths of the faith which are to be believed and applied to morals (code of canon law # 385), to mere secretaries, collating the opinions of people in their dioceses and presenting them to Rome. This criticism was not without substance as, contra this latest letter, initial guidance from synodal officials seemed to suggest a limited role for diocesan bishops.
As pointed out by The Pillar, "The multiple citations of Vatican II documents may be an indirect response to the debate about whether the synodal process is an organic development of the Council’s vision or at odds with its strong affirmation of the bishops’ powers and responsibilities. Here’s the evidence, the letter’s authors seem to be suggesting, that the initiative is in harmony with the Second Vatican Council."
If that's the case (which seems highly likely) it is a deeply unsophisticated attempt to retrospectively attach some weight to a deeply flawed initiative. I don't buy it. It is incoherent.
The Pillar speculates that another likely reason for the release of this letter is Cardinal Pell's article for the U.K.’s Spectator magazine, describing the initiative as a “toxic nightmare” and the DCS as “one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome.” Pell was right.Further criticism has come from the former Vatican doctrinal chief Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who described the initiative as a “democratization, a de facto Protestantization.” Müller is also right.
I don't think I'm a dumb guy, but I can't figure out what these three pages say. I can't wait until ChatGPT can replaces functionaries whose job it is to write drivel like this. About the best I can tell is that this signals that the organizers of the Synod are on the defensive. https://t.co/7EExxfH4zD— Fr. Peter Totleben, O.P. (@FrTotleben) January 30, 2023
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