So what price ‘Synodality’, the latest neologism in the inventive vocabulary of our esteemed Pontiff?
The notion was that local conferences of bishops would be accorded more autonomy in the regulation of their own affairs – a sort of ‘Anglican Communion lite’. But the reality proves to be very different from the PR.
Minutes before the American Conference of bishops was to debate two important motions on sexual abuse and the role of bishops (including the erection of a panel of lay assessors), came the phone call from Rome instructing Cardinal DiNardo to abort the proceedings. The matter, it was asserted, must be shelved until a February meeting of Chairmen of Episcopal Conferences world-wide. Meanwhile, as conductor for their retreat, the American bishops were graced by the offer of Fr Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Papal household: an offer they probably could not refuse.
Just as ‘synodality’ threatened to take hold in the most powerful (and most scandal-ridden) Conference in the world, Vatican control-freakery took over – with obedient little Cardinal Cupich (who else?) primed to leap to Francis’s defence. (Blase Cupich is one of two Americans on the Congregation for Bishops, which issued the prohibition. The other – let the reader understand – is Donald Wuerl.)
The conclusion which all reasonable people will have reached after this authoritarian behaviour, is that nothing which is said or proclaimed in this pontificate is to be trusted or relied upon. All is smoke and mirrors.
The commemorations of November 11, 1918 are over. Few can have remained unmoved by the recollection of a cataclysmic and heroic struggle which changed everything and shaped the modern world.
But for us Brits there was an added poignancy. How is it that the nation which, from the Congress of Vienna, 1815 to the Versailles Conference of 1919 was the arbiter of Europe, and from 1940 to 1941 faced the might of Hitler’s Germany alone, cannot now find it possible to negotiate its way out of the European Union? How has the land of Wellington and Churchill come to this? Remembrance, for us, is coloured over with shame.
Lions led by donkeys?
Also by Laurence Binyon:
Now is the time for the burning of the leaves.
They go to the fire; the nostril pricks with smoke
Wandering slowly into a weeping mist.
Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!
A flame seizes the smouldering ruin and bites
On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.
The last hollyhock’s fallen tower is dust;
All the spices of June are a bitter reek,
All the extravagant riches spent and mean.
All burns! The reddest rose is a ghost;
Sparks whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild
Fingers of fire are making corruption clean.
Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,
Time for the burning of days ended and done,
Idle solace of things that have gone before:
Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there;
Let them go to the fire, with never a look behind.
The world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.
They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.
§1 The diocesan Bishop is bound by the law of personal residence in his diocese, even if he has a coadjutor or auxiliary Bishop.
§2 Apart from the visit ‘ad limina’, attendance at councils or at the synod of Bishops or at the Episcopal Conference, at which he must be present, or by reason of another office lawfully entrusted to him, he may be absent from the diocese, for a just reason, for not longer than one month, continuously or otherwise, provided he ensures that the diocese is not harmed by this absence.
Recent attempts by the Vatican to limit the ubiquity of Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider have fallen foul of the Law of Unintended Consequences. It has been announced that, in accordance with Canon 395, the Bishop of Rome will henceforth be obliged to spend more time in his diocese. To the despair of journalists world-wide, we are to expect no more in-flight entertainments and Magisterial impromptus. Instead of pastoral visits across the globe, the Holy Father is expected to spend more time among the people of his adopted city.
‘Like many a public figure, the Pope will be spending more time with his family.’
It was revealed yesterday that, on behalf of Pope Francis (and following the example of Dutch entrepreneur Emile Ratelband, 69), Cardinal Parolin has approached the Argentine Government to reduce the Holy Father’s age on official documents to 45. The Pontiff, who has been 116 ever since his election five years ago, is clearly worried that the precedent of Benedict XVI may lead to further calls for his resignation.
‘We have work to do,‘ explained the Vatican Secretary of State, ‘there are doctrines to be binned and Catechisms to be rewritten: so many projects, so little time.‘ Francis, it seems, who has broken new ground in many ways since his elevation to the See of Peter, is destined to be the first Pope actually to get younger in office.
Said Papal spokesperson Fr Thomas Rosica: ‘Vatican I aside, let no one doubt the absolute infallibility of this Pope. He has changed the moral law, and now – as you will see – he is going to change the laws of nature themselves. This is a Pope who brings hope to young and old alike.’
It is with regret that the editors of ‘The Cynic’s Guide to Bergoglianism’ have had to withdraw from publication the articles on ‘Satan’ and ‘Silence’, commissioned from Tina Beattie and Timothy Radcliffe respectively.
This is on the grounds that they might be mistaken for satire.
Some while ago an assemblage of the Great and the Good – including Justin Welby – produced a ‘A Pope Francis Lexicon’, outlining the meaning behind the Holy Father’s customary vocabulary. The following is intended as a modest sequel to an invaluable book.
Accompaniment: In the modern world dogma and precept no longer hold. Accompaniment has replaced pedagogy. The priest must abandon the old certainties and strike out on the daring path of accompaniment, not knowing where it will – or should – lead.
In forward-looking parishes Accompaniment will replace Confession. For where there is no notion of sin, there is no need of reconciliation. The journey is all; a journey on which the Pastor (to use an outmoded term) as well as the parishioner, will discover new truth which will surprise and delight.
For God is a God of surprises
Inclusion: Ours is too often a world of closed doors. Jesus does not want that. Tragically clubs seem to exist to exclude potential members.
The Catholic Church must not be like that: no rules, no commitments, no belittling requirements. All must be welcome, especially LGBT+, and welcome on their own terms. Let neither sin nor belief divide! What begins with radical ecumenism and progresses to generous syncretism ends with a jolly free-for-all.
The only exclusion from this happy inclusion will be of those deplorables who suppose that Truth is binary
Youth: The young are the Church’s future.
For too long the mindset of Christians has been retrospective; they have looked back to golden ages of the past. But we now live in a world of Youth, where everything is focused on the future. In young people the as-yet-unseen is reaching out towards us. It is alive with new ideas, fresh perceptions, revolutionary value systems.
The posture of the Church in the past was one of Teaching – she saw herself as dispensing the wisdom of the ages for the benefit of the present age. The posture of the Church must now be one of listening, listening to those with a vision unencumbered by experience. The past is a tedious catalogue of scripture, tradition and reason. Youth brings us freedom, experimentation and the individual conscience.
The wind of the Spirit is blowing through our Youth.