Wednesday, 21 October 2020

A roller coaster Synod


The Synod 2020 here in the Archdiocese of Liverpool should have taken place last weekend. The Covid 19 crisis put paid to that and it is now postponed to next June. However, the process marches on, or perhaps meanders on. We now have sight of the Proposals under the four Synod themes. You can read them through the links at the bottom of the following page:

I'm afraid that I'm rather disappointed. 

It's a bit self-referential and closed in on iself. There is no reference to any teaching or document outside itself, except these: "Laudato Si"; Live simply communities, (a CAFOD initiative) and the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool's programme of spiritual direction. A little thin on drawing on the centuries of humankind's wisdom.

You might say that it is a Synod for our times, a Synod for our day, and like the daily newspaper, it's ephemeral. For there are no references to the rich history and tradition of the Church (except one to Catholic Social Teaching - which understood in a properly Catholic context is to be welcomed), nothing quoted or referenced from any papal teaching (apart from "Laudato Si"), nothing from the writings of the Saints or the Scriptures.

For myself, I find that the proposals are rather wordy and generalized - enabling each person to interpret them by their own lights. In my own humble opinion, this is not terribly helpful and rather dangerous, as it could mean you think, “Ah yes, that’s a good idea” but to someone else it means something totally different, which you may not agree with at all. Politicians - even ecclesiastical ones - work in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform! There is a vision behind it but it's not one that I really want to be forming my faith.

It's also interesting and rather worrying that although there are many words and phrases that you might find in any government or corporate company mission statement I can’t find any of the following in any of it's eleven pages: 

Our Lord, Salvation, Heaven, Hell, Priesthood, Religious Life, Blessed Sacrament, Saints, Martyrs, Our Lady, sacrifice, hierarchy, devotion, authority, convert, eternity, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, divine, redemption, supernatural, grace, Tradition, Bible, Scripture, Gospel, Body of Christ (referring to either the Church or the Eucharist).

Though “Jesus” does appear at twice!

It seems to my mind that it's a very horizontal Synod, we're looking around but not upwards. Like Oscar Wilde, I think we should be looking at the stars - that is to say, up to Heaven - to get us out of the mess we're in. It appears to be all community and no divinity. Jesus gets a quick look in as social guru but it does seem a bit of a gap that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are AWOL.

Surely, we cannot fix our broken Church with the flimsy models of secular coproratism and political spin? And at a human level our Church is broken (the Covid restrictions are hacking away at what's left). Which is why we can't look to the merely human to rescue us. More of the same medicine that's been killing us off is hardly likely to help. It feels like a Synod for today, literally, this day and no other, with no reference outside itself, no reference to Tradition and nothing solid on which to build hope for the future. It's bang on trend to fit in with the fashion of the moment. But, as we know, nothing ages more quickly than the fashion of the day.

We need a great engineering endeavor like the steam trains of the nineteenth century, cutting through mountains and forging mighty rivers. A thrilling project that will take us somewhere and open up our horizons. What we seem to have is a roller-coaster ride, which can only provide a few cheap thrills and then it's all over. 

And you end up back where you started.


Et Expecto said...

Whilst I agree with Fr Henry's views, it is worth mentioning that there are some good points in the liturgy section. I refer to points 3.4 yo 3.8.

Fr Simon Henry said...

Ah yes. But all very subjective. "I saw some beautiful dance in the church of another denomination." Let's do that at the Offertory at Mass!

Andrew said...

I used to be part of the Anglican Diocese's Spiritual Direction team and find it disappointing that the Archdiocese would wish to join it. I trained with them when the course was still at Loyola Hall and was invited onto the training team thereafter. I know there has been some recent Catholic input (by a Cenacle Sister) but the course is absolutely relativistic and ecumenical (in the sense of absolutely anything goes!). It's also worth noting that it runs under the auspices of the Bishop of Warrington. Those who pass the course and are invited to join the approved SD list are now commissioned, and periodically recommissioned, by "Bishop" Bev Mason - a female cleric with invalid orders. As a Catholic, I left the ecumenical list when my recommissioning became due. Is this really the best that the Archdiocesse can do? Is there nothing distinctly Catholic to offer to those seeking direction?

David O'Neill said...

After reading Archbishop Vigan's lecture I find it more & more certain the our Church was 'taken over' by liberals & pseudo Protestants after Vatican 2. I feel this even moreso after reading Marcel Lefebvre's book "An Open Letter to Confused Catholics"