Comment

October’s synod must heal the wounds opened by last year’s debacle

Bishops arrive at a morning session of last October's synod (PA)

I have just spent the weekend reading Edward Pentin’s e-book about the Family Synod, which is entitled The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? My copy of the book by the former Catholic Herald Vatican correspondent is embargoed, and my review will appear in an upcoming edition of this magazine. Because of the embargo, I cannot say anything about the content, but the author himself has given us a foretaste of what is to come, publishing an extract via the Catholic World Report, which can be read here.

The extract, I am sure everyone will agree, makes interesting reading. Indeed, based on this extract, one can see that the book itself promises to be an exciting even thrilling, well-sourced, fly-on-the-wall style documentary exposé of what exactly happened at the Extraordinary Synod last year. As such, it is required reading, as it may well give us a key to understanding what will unfold at the forthcoming Synod this October.

A synod is supposed to be an opportunity to “travel together” as the Greek origins of the world suggest, but it is clear from the extract just published, that this synod has been anything but. Indeed, it has revealed cracks in the façade of the Catholic Church which are worrying indeed. Let us hope the second stage of the process, the October synod, can heal the wounds in unity opened up by last year’s shenanigans.

A few well-placed people have told me that they have confidence in the Synod process. The very fact that they have taken the trouble to say this makes me wonder. If you look at Canterbury, synods do not have a good track record at producing unity. If you look East, the Orthodox world’s model of synodical government displays a history of division, mutual anathemas and excommunications, as this recent speech by Bartholomew I makes clear. (For a short report on the speech, see here) Whichever way, synods need careful handling and organisation.

Meanwhile, do everything you can, short of sin, to get a copy of Mr Pentin’s book!