Monday, November 20, 2023

Rome: The synodal Church will be guided by the spirit of the age

The camera never lies; except that it does. A still photograph taken out of context can be wholly misleading. A video less so, since it provides context. The October Synod in Rome has produced two contradictory responses in observers.

Those who look at the still photograph have been saying “nothing has changed. The catastrophists were wrong. See, no women priests, no homosexual blessings, no change”.

But the opposite is the case. The video tells a different story. One might begin any assessment by asking, if there is no change, what was the Synod all about? Why the cost, the enormous expenditure of effort? Was it really all to enable a couple of hundred hand-picked people the opportunity to self-soothe and engage in ecclesiastical group therapy?

Clearly not. Instrumentum Laboris offered a clear indication that a new kind of theological language was being used, and for a purpose: to facilitate the evolution into a new kind of Church. Salvation was replaced by politics and therapy. The Catholic journalist Jeanne Smits argued that evolution was the wrong term.

She said: “It’s a revolution that’s fundamentally abandoning the definition of the Church as the mystical body of Christ, in order to see it as … a new Church.”

For observers who have watched other ecclesial bodies over the last 50 years, the strategies employed by the proponents of the new synodality look very familiar.

The Episcopalians in America trod this path in the 1980s, as did the Anglicans in England in the 1990s. When the Anglicans turned to the device of detaching theology from the tradition and moving it into encounter groups they chose the term “indaba”.

Indaba is a Zulu concept which describes a gathering for purposeful discussion. It was designed to facilitate “listening as well as speaking and the emergence of wisdom and a common mind”.

Does that sound a little familiar?

It does all the more so when you add the trope “listening to, or in, the ‘spirit’”.

The Anglicans failed to define what they meant by the “spirit”, in exactly the same way as members of the recent Synod bandied about the word as if it should deflect all criticism or save them from any further accountability of examination of what they meant by it.

The task of discernment was equally foreign to both Anglican and Catholic progressives. Traditional Christianity, on the other hand, has always placed considerable emphasis on being able to tell the difference between the different spirits.

Even Hegel knew enough to define what “spirit” meant for him, but political or therapeutic Christianity has no experience or expertise in this. The strategy was as clear as it was pneumatically incompetent.

It was intended to relocate the epistemology that defines the Church – to detach it from Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and relocate it in the newly authoritative context of therapeutic “group encounter” precisely so that it could be claimed that the “spirit” had informed the Church. But all the indications are that this is not the Holy Spirit. How otherwise could one explain the Holy Spirit was contradicting what He effected in the past?

Instead this appears to be the spirit of the age, since the values it stimulates and promotes are the opposite of those of the apostolic or renewed Church. How is the anticipated revolution to be achieved, given that no significant decision were arrived at on this occasion?

Answer: by establishing two effective mechanisms to change what the Church believes and practises; the creation of the principle and process of synodality itself and the adjudicating concept of the sensus fidei.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

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