Former Anglicans warn of the pitfalls of the Synod Process


(The Catholic Herald/Gavin Ashenden)-In a recent interview with journalist Christopher Lamb, the prominent Catholic intellectual and biographer of Pope Francis, Austin Ivereigh has expressed concern about the influence of former Anglicans’ views on the synodal process.

Austin Ivereigh himself is heavily involved in the Synodal Path. He has been one of the editors who have elaborated the synthesis of the contributions of the experience in England. Ivereigh is alarmed by contributions to the report from former Anglicans who have warned of the dangers of consulting people who do not know or practice the faith.

In presenting and justifying Ivereigh’s concerns, Lamb claims for those who have written the Synodal Path reports nothing less than the direct presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

«The report is not an opinion poll or a sociological exercise, but rather an exercise in listening to the Holy Spirit who urges the People of God – laity, clergy and bishops – to continue “walking together” on the synodal path, despite the obstacles«.

This raises, for all of us, the question of whether we can distinguish between an exercise in listening, and an exercise in “listening to the Holy Spirit.”

Although it is key to having confidence in the process, the defenders of this approach do not explain how they can be so sure that the proposed conversations and listening exercises can guarantee the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, that is where ex-Anglicans think they can offer some help. Because in the world of Anglicanism, an essential part of the sociological conquest of the church by the left was almost always accompanied by the promise that the Holy Spirit was part of the project. It turned out that at the end of the process the progressives had confused the spirit of the age with the Holy Spirit. Having seen this ploy used to such divisive and destructive effect, former Anglicans look forward to sharing their experience of the danger this poses to the integrity of the Church.

The problem seems to stem from the fact that the Synodal Path has adopted a theological worldview of a very particular kind. Within the realm of historical spirituality we could distinguish a variety of different aspects of the ecclesial community; clergy and laity, religious and secular; obedient and disobedient; faithful and unfaithful; observant and nominal; ethical and amoral; pietists and activists, etc.

But the Synodal Way has configured (if you are one of its supporters, or has rigged if you are one of its critics) the conversation in advance by imposing the categories of “excluded” and “included”. These are intended to be variants of those who have power and those who do not. A perspective more faithful to the traditions of the Church would express more interest in the categories of those who have or do not have faith instead of those who have or do not have power.

We have left the realm of Christian spirituality to enter that of the Marxist power game. The Synodal Path has become a study on “alienation”. We’re back in the world of identity politics, where the group you belong to takes precedence over your personal virtue (or lack thereof). If you are marginalized, alienated, excluded, then we are with you.

The manual or vademecum of the synodal process says it like this:

«Widespread participation is an important part of the diocesan process, without excluding anyone. We must personally reach out to the peripheries, to those who have left the Church, to those who rarely or never practice their faith, to those who experience poverty or marginalization, to refugees, to the excluded, to those without a voice, etc..”

The game is revealed. These are sociological categories, not ecclesiastical or spiritual. How does one who has deliberately turned his back on the Church, or who refuses to practice her faith, constitute the Church? Do you have no capacity for action, no will, no responsibility?

But in the Marxist world of sociology, responsibility and choice are less important than victimhood. And the spirit of sociology demands that they be included in order to remedy their alienation and powerlessness. Thus, the categories of interest are «poor, marginalized, refugees, excluded and voiceless». This is more Marx than Jesus, more zeitgeist What a Holy Spirit

Does it matter if the orbit of the excluded goes beyond the confines of the Church? The authors of the Synodal Path believe not. They describe the ambitions of the listening process to include»

«the wider community, particularly those on the margins of society, as well as Christians and non-Christians«.

This is an important factor. Because Austin Ivereigh insists that the problem with ex-Anglicans is that they don’t understand that Catholicism involves a conversation between those who constitute the sensus fidelium:

“The synodal process in England and Wales has shown that many former Anglicans have trouble understanding the nature of Catholic synodality, which is more akin to ecclesial discernment processes than to Church of England government, which has delegated powers by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.”

“While Church of England synods are ‘deliberative’, in the Catholic tradition, synods are consultative, with decisions made by bishops with and under the Pope after attentive listening to the Spirit speaking through the sensus fidelium.”

You are right, of course. There is no legislative process in this Synod. But Anglicans, despite Mr Ivereigh’s eagerness, know the difference between consultation and legislation. It’s not very hard.

In fact, the old Anglicans are asking questions that belong very much to the sensus fidelium.

Fortunately, this is defined in the Catechism:

“The totality of the faithful […] You cannot err in faith. This property of his, so peculiar, is manifested in the supernatural sense of the faith of all the people: when from the bishops to the last of the Christian laymen “they show their consent in matters of faith and morals” (Catechism of the Catholic Church , 92).

What Mr. Ivereigh has not yet explained is how those who do not practice, those who have left the Church and are not, in fact, Christians, constitute the sensus fidelium to which the Catechism refers.

The reality is that former Anglicans have already seen this trap in action. It is part of the spirituality of progressives. In short, they wrap quasi-Marxist content in a spiritual comfort blanket and then talk a lot about the Holy Spirit.

This is what Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, does. Explaining the main objectives and characteristics of the synodal process, he described it as “a spiritual process that requires listening to both the Holy Spirit and everyone else«.

Among those who are warning about this, Monsignor Nazir-Ali stands out. precisely with the sensus fidelium In mind, he addressed the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences on October 28 in Bangkok, Thailand. He suggested that synod consultations have their limits, noting that those consulted “they need to be catechized, perhaps even evangelizedotherwise, how exactly do they constitute the Sensus Fidelium?

A quasi-therapeutic, inclusive and social justice exercise that invokes the zeitgeist offering empowerment and inclusion to the radically marginalized and voiceless, it would be an excellent sociologically coherent exercise in political relevance and justice-seeking. The Synodal Path is laying the foundations for a process of this type.

Former Anglicans would like to assure Mr Ivereigh that they not only know the distinction between legislation and consultation, but would humbly offer a warning.

We have seen a similar process of “walking together consultatively within the framework of a sociological narrative” that resulted in division, demoralization, spiritual impoverishment, theological incoherence, diminishing faith, apostasy, and fatal deterioration. of the church. And loving the Catholic Church as we do, being faithful to her integrity as we are, we would like to avoid the same result now.

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Former Anglicans warn of the pitfalls of the Synod Process