Friday, August 25, 2023

Greek Bishop: Pope’s Synod Doesn’t Fit Eastern Model

A senior prelate in the Greek Catholic Church is trashing the frequently stated claim that Pope Francis' forthcoming Synod on Synodality conforms to the synodal model followed by the Eastern Churches. 

In a commentary published on the Greek Catholic Exarchate website, Bp. Manuel Nin Güell warns that the pope's synodal project runs the risk of turning into a form of "'Christian parliamentarianism' that would allow us to express opinions on everyone and everything."

Bishop Nin, the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church's apostolic exarch to Greece, slammed the "absence of a clear clarification of its meaning" and "the absence of real catechesis" in the process leading up to the global synodal meeting to be held in October. 

Commenting on the tautological use of the term "general synod of bishops on synodality," the prelate sarcastically noted that the label was "neither a joke nor a mere pun."

If the West understands synodality as a place where "everyone, lay and clerical, act together in order to arrive at some ecclesiastical, doctrinal, canonical, disciplinary decision, whatever it may be, it becomes clear that such synodality does not exist in the East," Nin explained. 

Synodality in Eastern or Western Churches cannot be a kind of reflection of the modern world whereby the Church becomes like "a modern Western democracy, possibly parliamentary, where everyone can say everything and talk about everything," he warned. 

"The life of the Christian Churches has never been a form of democracy in which everyone decides everything by majority rule," Bp. Nin stressed. "And if it has not been such a democracy, let us not forget that in parliaments the members are elected and therefore representatives of those who elected them."

The life of the Christian Churches has never been a form of democracy.

The bishop cautioned that the word "synod" was being misrepresented as a "march of all together" when it should be regarded as "march of all together with Christ." He noted, "It does not refer to the 'course' but to 'someone' with whom it is carried out and completed."

"We do not forget that this 'with Christ' is accomplished in the Church, which is nourished and animated by the sacred gifts of His Precious Body and Blood," he added. 

Citing two biblical texts from John 14:6 and Acts 9:2, Nin affirmed that the point of a synod was to walk with Jesus, Who refers to Himself as "the way" and Who is also called "the way" by St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. 

The prelate clarified that synodality is "a journey that is definitely together, sometimes guided and accompanied by the hand, or even carried on the shoulders of our pastors, following in the footsteps of the One Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life."

The surest footing we can find is to remain firmly upon the perennial teachings of the Faith.

The occasion of synodality "does not lend itself to making or proposing new and impressive definitions but starting from the literature that the Fathers of the Church have always used as an instrument of their catechesis and mystagogy," Bp. Nin observed. 

In the Latin Church, Cdl. Raymond Burke warned that the synod is "a revolution" that is working "to change radically the Church's self-understanding in accord with a contemporary ideology which denies much of what the Church has always taught and practiced." 

In a foreword to a new book titled The Synodal Process Is a Pandora's Box: 100 Questions & Answers, published Tuesday, Burke said that "synodality," which is set to redefine Catholicism, "has no history in the doctrine of the Church" and "no reasonable definition."

Lamenting "the evident and grave harm" that the synodal process "is inflicting upon the Mystical Body of Christ," Burke cautioned Catholics that the synodal model, which is already spreading confusion, error and schism in Germany, will replicate itself in the universal Church.

Addressing his flock on the same day in a pastoral letter, Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, warned that many Catholic truths "will be examined as part of the Synod on Synodality."  

"We must hold fast to these truths and be wary of any attempts to present an alternative to the gospel of Jesus Christ, or to push for a faith that speaks of dialogue and brotherhood, while attempting to remove the fatherhood of God," Strickland wrote.   

"When we seek to innovate upon what God in His great mercy has given us, we find ourselves upon treacherous ground. The surest footing we can find is to remain firmly upon the perennial teachings of the Faith," the bishop urged.

The bishop of Tyler also predicted that "some will label as schismatics those who disagree with the changes being proposed." 

"Be assured, however, that no one who remains firmly upon the plumb line of our Catholic faith is a schismatic. We must remain unabashedly and truly Catholic, regardless of what may be brought forth," Strickland concluded.