The Lies of Synodality

Two recent news stories expose the lies that make up “synodality,” that vaunted effort of Church leaders that has been called the “modus vivendi et operandi of the Church.” Before we get to the lies, let’s first review what the Vatican claims “synodality” is:

Synodality denotes the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. Synodality ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working. Synodality, in this perspective, is much more than the celebration of ecclesial meetings and Bishops’ assemblies, or a matter of simple internal administration within the Church; it is the specific modus vivendi et operandi of the Church, the People of God, which reveals and gives substance to her being as communion when all her members journey together, gather in assembly and take an active part in her evangelizing mission.

If you look behind the jargon that would make any corporate marketing exec proud (“How to promote something without saying anything!”), you see the key points (which are repeated for emphasis) are the related concepts of “journeying together” and “gathering in assembly.” Yet each of these were dealt a serious blow in the past week.

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First, open communication is vital on any journey. In the sport of ultra-running, an athlete runs an obscene number of miles (usually 100 or more), but he has a whole crew that helps him during the race—they provide aid at various points and inform him how he’s doing. Also the ultrarunner tells his crew if there is anything wrong—a blister, lack of water—so they can assist him best. Imagine if the crew and the racer never communicated; if they kept secret what each knew from the others. It would be a disaster.

Yet apparently the Vatican believes that “journeying together” should be done in secret, with stricter rules about communication than a CIA operative stationed in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. The Pillar recently reported that debates at the upcoming Synod on Synodality will be covered by the pontifical secret—meaning that any participant who reveals what was discussed at the debates will be subject to excommunication. I’m not sure exactly how I can “journey together” with our bishops when I can’t even know what their directions are. It’s a clear effort to hide any debate from public view, so that their pre-planned objectives can appear to have full support from every quarter.

The other pillar of synodality is to “gather in assembly.” Many have criticized this concept as exalting meetings for the sake of meetings (even the Synod’s definition of synodality recognizes this criticism—”much more than the celebration of ecclesial meetings and Bishops’ assemblies”). But even if these “assemblies” are more than the glorified bureaucratic meetings they appear to be, an underlying assumption is that everyone is allowed to take part in these assemblies. How can you gather if some aren’t allowed to come? Yet the other news of the week—that Pope Francis will likely ask for Bishop Joseph Strickland’s resignation soon—exposes that as a lie as well.

Since the beginning of the synodal process under Francis, it’s been obvious to any objective observer that the deck is stacked. Sure, a few “conservative” voices are included at the official synod meetings, but these meetings are largely dominated by pre-picked bishops (and now priests and lay people) who will rubber-stamp the progressive agenda already decided upon. But this alone isn’t enough for Francis and the Vatican. They want to stamp out any and all opposition to their agenda, and so anyone who speaks up too much—and Bishop Strickland has definitely spoken up “too much”—must be pushed aside and excluded from the “assembly.”

It’s become increasingly clear that “synodality,” as practiced and preached by the Vatican, is not only foreign to Catholicism, but antithetical to it. It’s a smoke screen for pushing an ideology contrary to Catholic tradition, and history has shown that most ideologies can only be imposed by secrecy and eliminating opposition by any means necessary. As the Synod of Synodality approaches, Catholics should be aware of the reality behind the sweet-sounding words, knowing that this “journeying together” to “gather in assembly” is actually an attempt by a small, secretive cabal to impose new teachings and practices on the Church.


  • Eric Sammons

    Eric Sammons is the editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine.


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