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Synod document’s focus on ‘synodality’ did not come from bishops’ discussion

October 26, 2018

In a draft final document for the Synod of Bishops, the concept of “synodality” is discussed at length, although the topic was not discussed at any length during the Synod sessions.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, a member of the committee charged with drafting the final statement, told the Crux news service that synodality was “not very prominent in the minds of the Synod fathers.” But he reported that the concept was “very heavily stressed” in the final document.

The final statement of the Synod is intended to convey the main thrusts of the bishops’ discussions. But at the October meeting of the Synod, the drafting committee received a document that had already been drafted by the staff of the Synod. The emphasis on synodality was presumably inserted at the request of Pope Francis, who has spoken frequently about the importance of synodality in Church governance.

However, the introduction of the topic into the final document provoked “some resistance” from bishops, Cardinal Gracias disclosed. Some bishops protested that the document did not accurately convey the tenor of the discussions during the October meeting, the cardinal said—“which is true.”

In September, Pope Francis released a new apostolic constitution, Episcopalis Communio, which substantially expanded the powers of the Synod. In that document the Pope wrote that statements approved by a Synod of Bishops could have the same sort of magisterial authority that is ordinarily reserved for papal documents. The focus on synodality in a final statement from the October 2018 Synod could have the odd effect of claiming this magisterial authority for ideas that did not originate with the bishops themselves, but with the Pontiff.


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  • Posted by: rpp - Oct. 29, 2018 8:56 AM ET USA

    Of course Bergoglio would include a topic that were not discussed in order to further his "vision" of what the Catholic Church is.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Oct. 26, 2018 10:20 PM ET USA

    There is no transparency in the process of drafting the final Synod document. Some of the Pope's cronies are falsifying the documents as usual.