Updated: Nov 29, 2022
What exact fight am I talking about? I'm talking about #synodality And the fight is the one made clear if you Google “The tension in the Church around Pope Francis.” Headlines look like this:
Pope Struggles to Contain Conservative-Liberal Tensions in the Church
Is Pope Francis Leading the Church to a Schism?
Pope says church tensions must be resolved with discussion
Opposition to Pope Francis is rooted in Vatican II
Will Pope Francis break the Church?
In the midst of these tensions, the Pope has called for the Church to internal reform, to listening, to speaking truth with love, and to discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit. He’s called for another step in embracing not just the teachings from Vatican II but the way in which those teachings came about: synodally. His vision is precisely stated: synodality is the way of the Church in the third millennium.
The bell has rung and the fighters are in their corners, taped and gloved, mouth guards in place. The fight is on. Who’s fighting?
The clergy with other clergy, some wishing for a return to their more absolute power and sole decision-making and others who know the medieval monarchical style is not working.
The clergy with their Bishops- some enraged at having to participate in the synodal process, some refusing, some enraged that their Bishop chose not to participate.
The Bishops with each other-sharply divided about priorities, pastoral and legal approaches, uses and abuses of power, and the role of the clergy as shepherds or as princes.
The Bishops with their clergy: they move too slowly, they move too quickly, they don’t move at all, they don’t follow my directives, they don’t trust me.
The priests with their flock-those who desire to embrace the Jesus of the Gospels and the Church that reveals him and those who desire to embrace the practices of the Church and the comfort they give them.
The flock with each other: who’s a real Catholic and what defines that? Perspectives and experiences vary. Opinions fly. Camps are created. Wagons full of like-minded people circle and prepare to fight.
Rhetoric runs hot. Lines in the sand are drawn. The label “Catholic” is removed from a school. [i] Nancy Pelosi is barred from receiving communion in her home diocese and three others.[ii] Bishops and theologians struggle to talk with one another.[iii] Pope Francis is accused of “stacking” the College of Cardinals.[iv] It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see the figurative blood and sweat on the floor of the ring.
And into this fray Pope Francis rings the bell, sends the fighters to their corners and calls for a different way…a reclamation of the way the early Church settled its disputes…and he’s set it into motion. The Church is learning how to practice this new way, the synodal way. Suffice it to say, in the Church in the United States, acceptance of the vision and participation in the process has been uneven at best.[v] Participants have sent their reports on. Many are skeptical that any of this goes anywhere significant. Some don’t want it to. So the fight is still on.
The Pentecost Vigil Project is in the fight…supporting Pope Francis’ call for the Church to practice her own teaching that she is “at one and the same time holy and ever in need of purification.”[vi] The Pentecost Vigil Project is in the fight, supporting the conversion journey a synodal practice demands. The Pentecost Vigil Project exists to stand with those in the U.S. Church ready to step out on the #synodjourney.
Find us, join us, invite us to join you…let us walk together with Jesus!
· On Facebook @ThePentecostVigilProject
· On Instagram pentecostvigilproject
Post this on Social Media Let’s form the #synodjourney community committed to leading the way!
[i] Will Mcduffie. “Bishop says school no longer Catholic after flying Black Lives Matter, Pride flags.” Abcnews. June 16, 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/US/bishop-school-longer-catholic-flying-black-lives-matter/story?id=85437806 Accessed 6-17-22. [ii] Jack Jenkins. “Pelosi now barred from Communion in at least four dioceses.” TMay 27, 2022. he Washington Post online. https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2022/05/27/pelosi-barred-dioceses-communion/ Accessed 6-17-22. [iii] Clemente Lisi. “Catholic Bishops Meet in Secret to Discuss ‘Culture War’ Issues: What Does It Mean for the Church?” April 7, 2022. Religion Unplugged. https://religionunplugged.com/news/2022/4/7/catholic-bishops-gear-up-for-culture-war-while-trying-to-cement-pope-francis-legacy Accessed 6-17-22 [iv] Thomas Reese. “Francis stacks the College of Cardinals.” National Catholic Reporter Online. May 25,2017. https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/francis-stacks-college-cardinals Accessed 6-17-22 [v] Colleen Dulle and Doug Girardot. “We contacted every diocese in the U.S. about their synod plans. Here’s what we found.” October 18, 2021. America. https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/10/18/synod-bishops-us-diocese-plan-241671 Accessed 6-17-22 [vi] GIan Franco Svidercoschi. In the New Millennium On the Path Indicated by the Council. 1/1/1997. https://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01051997_p-49_en.html Accessed 6-17-22