There’s Got to Be a Better Way

Brad Miner | October 23, 2023

So. We’ve been told that the Synod on Synodality is not about theology. Or doctrine. Not about “the media’s” favorite issues: LGBT, women’s ordination, married priests. Nor is it intended to subvert or replace the hierarchical nature of the Church or to democratize the decision-making process. The Synod on Synodality is – at least this year – about discerning“what synodality is.”

Meanwhile, in recent days, a theologian invited to speak to the whole Synod announced that, “When we reach the consensus that the Church is constitutively synodal, we will have to rethink the whole Church, all the institutions, the whole life of the Church in a synodal sense.” A participating bishop openly affirmed that it will be necessary to depart from Apostolic Tradition. And they’re far from being the only ones making such radical claims.

But we’ll all have a chance to do a bit of discerning ourselves later this week, after the publication of what’s being called a “brief” final report, and also a “Letter to the People of God.” Maybe then we’ll know whether synodality now dwells firmly among us, or awaits further synodalizing. The Holy Spirit has, so far, not tipped his hand.

There’s an old theological approach to understanding God called the via remotionis (“way of removal”). You take away all the things that the Biblical God is not – matter, form, time, place, change, which is to say all the attributes that pertain to material beings and not to their Source, the Supreme Being – so that contours of what He is become somewhat clearer. The human mind cannot know God until He reveals Himself to those blessed with the Beatific Vision, but at least the via remotionis removes misconceptions.

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