Saturday, 13 March 2021

Inclusive language and Synod 2020 in the Archdiocese of Liverpool

I spent yesterday on a Zoom conference for Synod 2020 here in the Archdiocese of Liverpool and, oh my, am I depressed. The Recommendations we were being presented with (now available HERE) are drawn from the previous Proposals (HERE).  The very fact that each Recommendation begins with "We the people recommend..." echoing the Introduction to the United States Constitution, appalls me.  To me, it comes over as rather pompous, but also associates us immediately with a Constitution of a State that is built on separating itself from religion. God get's a mention - "one nation under God" - but is then left out of everything else. Is this a good model for us to draw on? The Church is not a democracy where we can choose what we want. Jesus stated His case and you either went with it or you didn't. He didn't take a straw poll of who the crowd wanted to be Blessed when He was giving the Sermon on the Mount.

The Recommendations are all couched in language so vague as to be capable of many interpretations. 

This makes it look churlish to disagree with any of them.


It also means that we can vote yes to a Recommendation with no real idea of what that means.

Do we believe women are equal, valued, visible and heard - Yes, certainly. But does that mean founding an Order of nuns of diocesan rite to teach in our schools or does it mean picketing the Vatican for women's ordination? 

The same is true of most of the Recommendations.


So we don't really know what we're voting for. EXCEPT that the whole language and process used throughout the Synod indicates a direction of travel that is more of the same thing we've been doing for some years now and it's that very path that has led us to the necessity of calling a Synod because things are so dire. 

The whole language is that of the secular world and the politically correct. None of it is really couched in Gospel terms or the language of the Saints or the philosophy of our Tradition of 2,000 years. It mimics the corporate world, it apes the realm of secular governance. Replace the words "Church" or "Archdiocese" with "Tesco Ltd" or "Government Department of Health" and anyone in those realms would recognise and feel right at home with the terms of reference.

What's missing, to me - and I know to many others - is the supernatural, the spiritual, the challenge to the world to come with us or go crawling unknowingly on the road to perdition.


This will sound extreme to some but I'm not alone in thinking along these lines. There are many in the Archdiocese, priests and laity, who have grave concerns. The truth is that there is a hidden Archdiocese that feels very much excluded by the soi-disant inclusive language of the Synod; that is to say (in Synodese): inclusive does not include those who think the Synod is going in the wrong direction.

This hidden Archdiocese mostly stays quiet because it thinks (it experiences) that it is futile to go against the direction of travel. Everything about the process and the manner in which it's carried out tells us so. At least, that is how it feels to to some of us: that we are given lip-service but not really listened to, not really included. These are not all people often identified as Mad, Bad and Trad, but a swathe of the people of God here very much distressed and frustrated.

I say all this in charity for all the other ordinary members of the Synod whom I know act and speak in good faith. But we are here too "We the excluded!), another part of the People of God who believe that the push towards this type of modernity is not the right way forward. May the Holy Spirit guide us all.


Neil Addison said...

The final recommendations are 4 pages of meaningless generalised claptrap. It's depressing because the original proposals were somewhat focused and had some specific things to be done. The danger is that the vagueness of the final recommendations means that the Synod can be used to justify almost anything


I too did the zoom call but I did today's. I'm afraid to say that I left it feeling utterly depressed and despondent at the state of the Church. This morning's session was ok BUT this afternoon between and 2-3pm was one of the longest hours of my life. I sat and listened to what could only be described as a paen to feminist ideology from both men and women, lay and clerical.

The hour was spent discussing things that we said we wouldn't (right at the start of the synodal process) as they relate to the Church's teaching. So:

(a) the ordained ministry - allow married priests (cue a married Anglican convert priest who came on screen nursing his baby on his knee- ahhhh!), to ask all those men who left the priesthood in order to marry to return immediately as they would make better priests than all the 80year olds that we currently have. Also that of the ordination of women - especially to the Diaconate;

(b) the resurrection of the old canard of the 1998 unauthorised translation of the "Roman Missile" [as the actor called it], to replace the 2010 authorised version because that hadn't "gone down well" apparently - (it's been in use for a decade!)! Also the use of General Absolution - more of it!!!! rah rah!;

(c) Ecumenism - i.e. communion for all (the actress reading a comment said that her CofE friend was upset when she couldn't go to Communion when she went to Mass (I thought there's a simple solution there but I didn't proffer it as woe betide us if we start to proselytise!;

(d) finally Church governance - for this read "Rome, do stop telling us what to do!"
Now of course none of these topics can actually be in the Synod recommendations, but we were assured that Rome will be alerted to these concerns of the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.

At one stage, towards the end of the day a rather bossy lady popped up and said, roughly speaking, that not to be open to change is to defy the Holy Spirit. We were also told that Pope Francis has said that the Lord has told him that we have to be synodal in the 21st century.

I came away with confirmation, if it were needed, that understanding of the Catholic Faith by its supposed adherents is woefully lacking (I include myself in this). At one stage I had to check that it wasn't a work call - I'm civil servant - and I just felt that I'd gone to a work meeting as it was all corporate and woke speak.

I do wonder if all those I listened to today are indeed the vocal minority and that I am part of the silent majority or rather are they actually the vocal majority? In which case I suspect my days in the Church are numbered! It's very difficult to argue with people who insist that "they know what Jesus would do" if He were here today, cue another bossy lady meaningfully say , that "of course he is here with us now".

This doesn't seem to me to about the renewal of our Faith here in Archdiocese but rather it seems to be very much a power struggle. I use the word 'power' properly because I get the increasing feeling from this process that the 'many' feel that they want to wrestle the power from the 'few'. Is it the power to be in charge of other people and tell them what to do that is so all-consuming? Personally I am quite happy to remain powerless, to work quietly and as conscientiously for my Parish and my Church as I am able and for as long as I am able and to rely on the powerless majesty of Christ Crucified as my sole inspiration as a layman in this weary and power-hungry world.

One 'helpful' suggestion was that we should have lay-preachers to lessen the burden of the priests. Now I'm up for that but God help those in earshot!

Andrew Q said...

I'm a similarly depressed (layman) Synod member. If anyone wants to know how bad things are, just have a look at the Synod 2020 Youtube channel for the Together on the Road "theological reflections" and the 'Matters Outside the Remit of the Synod' (which will be sent to the Vatican). It seems the only distinctively Catholic options in the future in this Archdiocese will come through the Priestly Fraternity, Institute and Society churches and chapels. I know that's where I'll be. I'll also be ensuring that my funds are directed there rather than to the Archdiocese.

Kenny said...

Well said Simon , I found the whole experience frustrating listening is always valuable but it’s always the same dissenting voices that we here. It would have been helpful to hear some moderate voices especially in the afternoon.

vetusta ecclesia said...

We had something similar in our diocese with the same bland secular jargon, and lots of “ discernment” of what the parties wanted to do anyway. I was met with blank incomprehension and no follow-up when I made two suggestions for our meetings:

1 That the opening prayer should have some distinctly Catholic tone rather than the stream of consciousness that you could hear in any Protestant conventicle

2 That as we had a regular Mass at our meetings and that as we had more than one rite in our diocese, it might help our understanding of that variety if we sometimes had Mass in a rite other than the NO

Anton said...

Why can’t you all speak out before it is too late ? The discussions seem hardly Catholic. Surely you can say something to change the process ?

Anton said...

Why can’t you all speak out before it is too late ? The discussions seem hardly Catholic. Surely you can say something to change the process ?

Fr. John Hemer said...

Dear Simon thank you for that piece and for the other comments you published. I take issue with "we, the people of the Archdiocese" because they are not. They don't speak for any of my many Catholic friends in Liverpool, they are a small elite group of gas bags.
I'm reminded of the story of the man who decided to put orange juice in his petrol tank. After a few miles the car started to splutter and then stopped. But he knew what the solution was, it was obvious that the car needed more orange juice. Those ideas have been around in Liverpool since Warlock's ill-fated Pastoral congress and the have produced nothing. Try something else for God's sake, like.....Catholicism.

Terry said...

The Synod process, like society at large, has been controlled from the beginning by woke virtue signallers who are willing to ditch most of the Church’s moral teaching in an attempt to be “inclusive”. The whole agenda is driven by secular society rather than fidelity to the Church’s tradition. Just look at the reaction from many Archdiocesan priests to the statement from the CDF ruling out the blessing of LGBT unions. A parish in Huyton in particular asserted that Pope Francis intends to change the ethics of the Church in this regard, which of course he has no authority to do. The Pope cannot contradict Scripture and Tradition.

I am a Synod member but I feel completely powerless against this secular, corporate agenda. Mind you, after being postponed from last October and now being a fully online event I really feel it’s a case of flogging a dead horse.