The Synod of Bishops is always a joyful and challenging experience. It stems from the concern to faithfully and effectively communicate Christ’s teachings to the people – said the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki in an interview with German Catholic newspaper „Die Tagespost”.
The President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference admitted that the Synod of Bishops is always a joyful and challenging experience. „After all, it stems from a concern to faithfully and effectively communicate Christ’s teachings to the people. Besides, the participants of the Synod are people animated by the desire to realize the fundamental vocation of every Christian, that is, the vocation to holiness, and the desire to evangelize,” he stressed. Archbishop Gądecki added that „the crisis of the Catholic Church in Europe does not allow us to remain passive and set ourselves to wait it out, especially in the context of the universal Church.”
Archbishop Gądecki assessed that we are also experiencing certain anxieties in connection with the Synod. „They mainly originate from areas where secularization and de-Christianization of culture are happening rapidly,” he noted. He also pointed to three issues from the final document, Instrumentum Laboris: Firstly, inclusiveness: according to Archbishop Gądecki, inclusiveness replaces the notion of sin and conversion in the IL text. It is thus part of the ideology of moral relativism. Secondly, „in the synodal discussion, too much attention was focused on authority,” which „can lead not only to clericalism but also to the clericalization of the laity under the guise of promoting the laity.” Thirdly, „in IL, there is the idea of dispersing doctrinal authority by transferring it in some part to continental congregations or groups of local Churches, at the expense of papal authority.”
The President of the Polish Episcopate noted that the Church should not be expected to make any dogmatic changes in the synodal mode. „Besides, we should remember that the Pope is the main guardian of orthodoxy. Rather, the problem is one of methodology, a certain way of organizing the earlier synodal discussions in which everyone was allowed to say what they think. Consequently, some words were not very wise or responsible,” he admitted.
Archbishop Gądecki assessed that the dynamics and the way of organizing discussions sometimes resembled the UN more than the Catholic Church. „The task of the Roman synod is to sort all this out and reject what in the discussion was incompatible with Revelation and the tradition of the Catholic Church. Unlike democracy, which is the ‚voice of the people,’ synodality should be the voice of God and listening to ‚what the Spirit says to the Churches,’ ” he noted.
In the interview, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference stressed the timeliness of a letter he sent to the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, in which he expressed concern about the texts of the German Synodal Way. He also pointed to the risks that „erroneous pastoral decisions and doctrinal confusion” could bring.
Archbishop Gądecki expressed concern that „the Church in Germany is currently facing its biggest crisis since the Reformation. There is a great risk that the misunderstood reform of Christianity will again lead to a split in the Church that will spill over into neighboring countries.”
The President of the Polish Episcopate commented on the crisis in Catholic theology, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging German theology’s valuable contributions while being mindful of intellectual abuses. „I am extremely grateful for the intellectual output of Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI. I think one of the main problems of academic theology in general, not only in Germany, is its detachment from pastoral care and pastoral responsibility. Theology is ultimately about human salvation,” he added. Abp Gądecki warned against theologians’ „inferiority complex” toward scientists from other disciplines. Some theologians feel the need to prove their worth, especially compared to their social science colleagues. „At times, theology serves as a supporting role to the social sciences. Its task in such cases is to justify and reinforce the theses developed by sociologists with the authority of faith,” he pointed out.
die-tagespost.de / Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
Translated by Sr. Amata Nowaszewska / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference