‘Real Talk’

When the common person hears the word ‘synod’ or ‘synodal,’ what comes to mind?

The first phase of the synod on synodality aims to collect input from the Church’s peripheries. It’s hard to imagine what kind of feedback Church leaders expect from a global-scale project like this. If bishops and cardinals want perspectives from pew-sitters and Catholics on the margins, then perhaps they should set aside their fancy clothes and their entourages and just go talk to them? Crazy idea, I know.

A recent article from LiCAS News, titled “‘Real talk’ with a missionary priest on the synodal process” (by Jose Torres Jr., Nov. 2), offers what I’d call a normal man’s perspective. In an interview with a missionary priest in Asia, Torres brings up “the issue of the synodal process and its implications on the ground, especially in far-flung communities.” The priest begins, “Let’s talk as friends” — in other words: in all honesty. A link to the full article is below. First, some salient quotes from his response:

“I have been a priest for more than 20 years already, but I still don’t get what this so-called synodal process is,” the priest says. “How much more can the farmer or the catechist in the remote areas?”

The missionary warns that when a bishop or priest “utters the word ‘synod’ and ‘synodal,’ the common person’s mind immediately repels it. The word itself is too Rome-ish,” he says. Yes, agreed. One must ask, will the official synodal process attract only wonks, weirdos, and activists with agendas? And given that the Church needs more saints, who really thinks more meetings will produce them?

The priest — remember, he lives in a poor part of Asia, where COVID is far from over — rhetorically asks, “You invite people to be active in the life of the Church while priests are not even going out to visit the sick for fear of getting infected with [the coronavirus disease]?”

In the end his advice is this: “We need a renewal of the clergy for them to refocus their priorities,” and, “The post-COVID era will literally become a test of the Church’s survival skills.”

The interview’s author, Jose Torres Jr., is editor-at-large of LiCAS News, which is a Catholic lay-run Asian news service that covers “human rights violations, denial of justice, and religious persecution in some of the world’s fastest growing economies, all within the political backdrop of eroding religious and press freedom.” LiCAS News boasts, “Our editorial and political independence is unique in Asia.” I’ll add: their presentation of such a candid opinion on the Church hierarchy’s big idea is unique anywhere. (Can you imagine your local diocesan paper printing an interview like the one linked below?) What’s more, LiCAS operates “under the umbrella of the Catholic Communications Office of the Archdiocese of Bangkok… with endorsement and acknowledgement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand.” Good for them.

The link: https://www.licas.news/2021/11/02/real-talk-with-a-missionary-priest-on-the-synodal-process/?utm_source=LiCAS.news&utm_campaign=c9d9b4ee3a-LiCAS.news+International+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_273995a56b-c9d9b4ee3a-359810816


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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