Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich tried to clarify the idea and the procedure of the Synod convened by Pope Francis in October. It is in no way comparable to Orthodox or Protestant synods, explained the Archbishop of Luxembourg, who coordinates the content of the great Catholic event.
“I think . . . a typical Catholic synodality . . . will be different from the Orthodox and the Protestant synodality, which does not mean that we want to degrade what they are doing. It will have to include the collegiality of bishops; it will have to also include the Primacy of Peter in the Catholic conventionality. And it is based on a process of discernment.”
One of Pope Francis’s main concerns is “spiritual discernment.” It is a matter of weighing the norms, personal circumstances and tradition of faith to discern exactly what God’s will is in a given situation.
“So it’s [going to be] very different, let’s say, from the German Lutheran Church, where some people even call their synod a ‘church parliament.’ And that’s what it’s not,” explained Archbishop Hollerich during his interview.
The Archbishop of Luxembourg does not attach too much importance to votes: “I do not know if voting will be so important, at least in this October’s synod,” he declared. “We will have round tables [of small language groups]. There will be a lot sharing, discernment in the Spirit,” he added. “We should never forget that it’s a synod in two sessions. So perhaps there is no need to vote on anything during the first session. But we shall see, because we are open to all eventualities.”
Although many non-bishops will participate and vote, it is still a synod of bishops, who will be the ones to submit recommendations to the pope and who will make a decision. The results will be presented in Francis’ post-synodal letter.
Cardinal Hollerich once again stated that synodality is not a matter of a “majority decision” or “unanimity.” Rather, the pope wants the assembly to be convinced of something.
No specific way of behaving has been designed for women and men, so some conclusions must be drawn, he concluded. “This is an open process, guided by the Holy Spirit, and this is the way it should be,” said Msgr. Hollerich.
This interview is a new admission: this synod is swimming in improvisation, and does not really know what it wants. There are “ifs,” “wishes,” “maybes,” “it is not like,” and finally, a capital confession: “we have not yet found a typically Catholic synodality.”
In an interview with the Jesuit magazine America, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general for the Synod on Synodality, assures that the synod “will be different from Orthodox and Protestant synodality,” while admitting that “we have not yet found a typically Catholic synodality.”