Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document

From Vatican News:

Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document

The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops presents the base text and “vademecum” – or handbook – to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality.

By Salvatore Cernuzio

Listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage and parrhesia; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with the other Christian confessions.

The General Secretariat for the Synod has published the Preparatory Document, along with a Vademecum (or handbook) to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality. The solemn opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17; and will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world.

Link to full article:

Link to Preparatory Document:

Link to the Synod Handbook (Vademecum):

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  1. Sean O'Conaill says:

    Centrally this document puts the following ‘fundamental questions’ to all Catholics:

    A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together”: How is this “journeying together” happening today in your particular Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

    We could, and should, all have been asked these questions before 1970. Half a century of Archbishop McQuaid’s ‘tranquillity’ intervened instead.

    Are we there even yet?

  2. Soline Humbert says:

    This beautiful talk of ‘journeying together’ must not be allowed to hide the fact that all the preparation in the world in this synodal process is designed to culminate in Rome in a Synod of Bishops, that is by definition an exclusive assembly of MEN (male human beings).

    Mary of Magdala may have finally been recognised officially as ‘apostle to the apostles’ but ‘apostle’ remains an exclusive male prerogative as shown in this Vatican document, with male bishops being their successors…and so the gender-apartheid is set to continue.
    Mary of Magdala and her sisters can remain at the door!
    (And please, don’t mention votes for women!).

    If we are all to truly journey together as a church, at some stage we will have to stop dragging behind us all this deadly sexist, misogynist baggage and truly acknowledge the Risen Christ in women.
    ”In Christ there is no longer male and female”(Galatians). Time to make this baptismal truth a reality in our church.

    I have a dream, that the baptised will no longer be defined by their gender.
    Only a dream? With God, nothing is impossible!

  3. Phil Greene says:

    Indeed Soline, a timely, relevant and appropriate comment from you as always.

    I can’t help thinking it is in women’s interests to let this model of Church fail so that we can , as lay women and men free from clerical control, raise a more equal and inclusive form of ministry from the ashes… eggs and omelettes come to mind..

  4. Sean O'Conaill says:

    #2 Maintenance of the male magisterial monopoly will undoubtedly be the agenda of many prelates at the 2023 Vatican synod, Soline, but that is not the end point of synodality for Cardinal Mario Grech (the general secretary for the synod) – who was apparently the driver of the plan for a parallel Irish synodal pathway, culminating c. 2026.

    In an interview given to Civilta Cattolica in 2020 Cardinal Grech insists that:

    It is not the family that is subsidiary to the Church, but it is the Church that should be subsidiary to the family. Inasmuch as the family is the basic and permanent structure of the Church, a sacred and cultic dimension should be restored to it, the domus ecclesiae. Saint Augustine and Saint John Chrysostom teach, in the wake of Judaism, that the family should be an environment where faith can be celebrated, meditated upon and lived. It is the duty of the parish community to help the family to be a school of catechesis and a liturgical space where bread can be broken on the kitchen table.

    Cardinal Grech even attributes the disastrous state of the western church to a clerical usurpation of the primacy of the family:

    Theology and the value of pastoral care in the family seen as domestic Church took a negative turn in the fourth century, when the sacralization of priests and bishops took place, to the detriment of the common priesthood of baptism, which was beginning to lose its value. The more the institutionalization of the Church advanced, the more the nature and charism of the family as a domestic Church diminished.

    Given the advantage that women have in mediating the love of God to children in the family, your dream is therefore within the remit of the synodal process as understood by at least some in Rome. There is no other future in Ireland either, where in a recent Irish Times article Brian Mooney attributes the ‘destruction’ of faith to a school-centred faith formation system that relies too often on teachers who have no faith themselves – rather than on the family and the parish community.

    All hands to the plough for a restoration of the equality and primacy of the baptismal common priesthood, and the primacy of the family in the recovery of faith. Although the Holy Spirit is given a male pronoun in this preparatory document we all know what a ‘kludge’ that is.

  5. Soline Humbert says:

    Listening to the Faithful. Phil and Seán, Mary McAleese had some very strong words about it this afternoon at the Bristol Root&Branch Lay-led Synod. No eggs and omelettes, but still plenty to digest!
    (Mary McAleese segment starts 1h 18mn in)
    There are plenty of other interesting speakers, and the Synod continues tomorrow and Sunday.

  6. Paddy Ferry says:

    Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document.

    Soline, everything I am about to write I would expect you to already be familiar with.

    However, I think, perhaps, it is still worth saying.

    First of all your reference to the male bishops being — supposedly — the successors of the apostles.

    I say “supposedly” because the late, great Raymond Brown has said two things — at least, two things that I am aware of — about apostolic succession. This is so ingrained in my head so I don’t have to go and look up the references.

    The first thing he said was that there is no compelling evidence for this classic Catholic thesis, ie, apostolic succession. If you read Priest and Bishop you quickly get the impression Raymond thinks that Paul is the only apostle worth talking about.

    Secondly, he said that the whole idea of a linear apostolic succession has been the result of a series of historic fabrications.

    All of this coming, we must remember, from one of our greatest ever Catholic scripture scholars — in fact, greatest ever scripture scholars, full stop.

    And then there is the male superiority complex.

    I have recently come to realise that so much of Christian theology and the subsequent spirituality is defined and described in terms of classical Greek metaphysics and especially that of the two great figures of Greek philosophy, Aristotle and his mentor, Plato.

    Dualism, I believe, is an important feature of their philosophy. For example, the soul which is asexual and the body which is definitely sexual and sinful is an example of this dualism. I wonder is this why we are no longer to say “And also with you” when the priest greets us with “The Lord be with you” at the start of Mass. Rather, we are expected to say “And with your spirit” which I have never said and never will say. But, at least, I am now content that I have reasoned justification for my disobedience. Responding with “And also with you” would suggest we are offering the Lord to our sinful bodies — the body being part of “You”.

    I am sorry, I digress!

    For Aristotle especially, the authentic human is defined by the ability to use the power of reason.

    Of course, his anthropology is all about males. Females are considered to be misbegotten males and probably not endowed with either the capacity for reason or a soul.

    They believed was that the complete blueprint for the offspring in human reproduction was contained in the male sperm. If the sperm was of excellent quality then the child born would be male. If the sperm was substandard, then the child born would be a female child. Thomas Aquinas swallowed all this nonsense hook, line and sinker. And this is the man, Aquinas, whom we entrust with our ultimate understanding and definition of the eucharist. Really!!

    Of course, the female body was simply a convenient receptacle in the whole process of human reproduction. There was no understanding of the joint genetic input of both the male and the female in the process of human reproduction.

    Reading Fr.Seán Fagan’s book, “What Happened to Sin”, he made me aware for the first time that much of our so called fundamental truths were formulated at a time when there was virtually — make that absolutely — no knowledge of the human sciences. He also pointed out in that wonderful book that anatomists only discovered the existence of the female ovary in 1850. I had studied anatomy at a serious level but it took Seán to enlighten me on that.

    So, Soline, the reasoning and culture behind any decision not to allow women the right to vote in the forthcoming synodal process goes back a long way.
    And, you have to wonder when will they ever learn.

    Soline, I so admire your strength and persistence.
    May you continue to have that strength.
    God bless you.


  7. Joe O'Leary says:

    The Vatican preparatory document is a sample of theologizing from cloud nine that consistently refuses to engage with any of the concrete problems facing our declining church.

    Instead of rejoicing that there are still some lay Catholics around who are willing to think and debate and help, it smothers them with inane pontifications, ensuring yet another hot air Synod in 2023.

    Huge financial and energy resources are poured into these Synods, and again and again the faithful are left disappointed, disheartened, disillusioned, while the bishops pat themselves on the back, and tell us that everything went swimmingly (nice meals in Rome and nice camaraderie with buddies blinds them to the uselessness of their confabulatons).

    At recent Synods we never hear of ‘theologians’: are they an extinct breed?

    The wheels turn and turn, and the vehicle does not move.

  8. Soline Humbert says:

    Listening to the faithful
    #6 Thank you Paddy, yes the long held belief, based on anatomical ignorance, that women are somehow defective or inferior has cast a very long shadow to this day.
    Some churchmen’s expert views on women, their bodies and their souls haven’t advanced much:Fr Manfred Hauke, who is one of the chosen theologians on Pope Francis’ Commission on Women and the Diaconate, can even argue that the timbre of women’s voices show God doesn’t intend them to preach…(His book, Women In The Priesthood, was recommended to me by Cardinal Connell, because it also argued for the subordination of wives…)

    Yes, thank you Seán, I had read these interesting interviews with Cardinal Grech. It left me wondering: When is the Breaking of the Bread in the domestic church not Eucharist? What is the difference?(apart from the fact one can be excommunicated for celebrating the latter).

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