Wherein Adam A.J. DeVille offers a modest proposal
It’s a good thing I’m already a Freudian, for perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned from him is that human beings are ambivalent creatures whose motives and feelings are usually mixed. This helps me understand both the recent papal decision about a universal synodal process, and my own reaction to it.
On the one hand I feel some sense of gratitude, perhaps even responsibility (Dr Freud here would ask: guilt?), for this announcement insofar as I have been arguing for the recovery of real synods across the life of the Catholic Church for a decade now. My 2011 book Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy, and even more so my 2019 book Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power, both laid out in detail the many serious arguments for synodal governance at all levels of the Church. I have continued these arguments in articles for various periodicals.
On the other hand, I am aware—and have also argued critically in many places—that recent (from 1965) Roman ideas and practices of synodality are not, in fact, well thought out or well run, but often shambolic affairs that bear little resemblance to how synods have been understood and used historically in the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox world. There synods are generally much more tightly run affairs run without the media glare and focused on some concrete piece of business at hand that generally does not allow for the temptation (much indulged by recent Roman gatherings, alas) to turn synods into loquacious and mischievous salons.
But—saints be praised!—here rounding the corner now comes a means to both rein in my ambivalence and to put a serious bridle on what threatens to become a run-away horse in the Papal Preakness: let us gladly take up the papal, uh, “invitation,” and then let every synod in the world adamantly restrict itself to one topic only: sex abuse. Let us obey this papal directive by using the synod to investigate and root out abuse by means of mandatory accountability for bishops and clergy, and serious structural reforms to the Church.
To save time, effort, and expense—for as Christopher Altieri argued with keen perception, most dioceses around the world today are exhausting their energy and coffers just trying to recover from the severe penances of Coronatide—I will even offer here freely a template for their agenda, and draft resolutions they can consider passing.
INVITATION to the Diocesan Synod of 2022
In due obedience to the expressed will of the divinely appointed bishop of Rome, Francis, all living ordinaries, incardinated clergy, and parish delegates (men and women elected by their parish council on the ratio of one  delegate for every fifty  registered parishioners) resident in this diocese of N are solemnly summoned and duly commanded to appear in the cathedral church of_________ in our see city____________on the days of ____________________ and at the time of____________ and commanded there to remain for a synod to last not fewer than 3 and no more than 5 days whose sole topic of discussion and decision-making shall be the Sex Abuse Crisis in the Church and Related Corruption.
AGENDA for the Diocesan Synod of 2022:
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