Confusion Worse Confounded
If you wanted two words to describe the Synod on Synodality, the event that begins today in Rome, it would have to be deep confusion. Unless you wanted to add a third, deliberate. Because it’s been clear from a series of concrete measures that what’s been said is not what’s going to happen. And what’s going to happen has not been said. Yet there’s a method, of a sort, to this madness.
To begin with, the very format of this Synod is already a kind of deliberate confusion – and for a reason.
On the one hand, we have been told by the very highest synodal authorities – from the pope on down – that synodality is a recovery of an ancient dimension of the Church that was preserved in the East but had been lost in the West. This is to assume, as really cannot be assumed, that this is a truthful statement of intention. Because. . .
On the other hand, we have the words of the exarch (leader) of the Greek Catholic Church– part of that very Eastern tradition (though in communion with Rome) – warning:
if the West understands synodality as a place or as a moment where everyone, laity and clergy, act together in order to arrive at some ecclesiastical, doctrinal, canonical, disciplinary decision, whatever it may be, it becomes clear that such synodality does not exist in the East.
Historically, this is correct beyond question.