Episcopalis communio: what does the Pope’s new document mean for the Church?

Pope Francis (C) poses at Maria Mater Ecclesiae during a pre-synodal meeting with young people in Rome on March 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Alberto PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

The new law appears to combine the Synod’s teaching authority with that of the Roman Pontiff

Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Constitution on Tuesday morning, which introduces significant reforms to the structure of the Synod of Bishops. Titled Episcopalis communio — “Episcopal communion” — the document is composed of a six-page introduction articulated in ten numbered sections, and a 27-article dispositive part.

The introduction talks a good deal about collegiality, broad consultation with all the faithful of every state of life in the Church, and the general spirit of synodal collaboration:

Although in its composition it appears as an essentially episcopal organism, the Synod does not therefore live separately from the rest of the faithful. On the contrary, it is an instrument apt to give voice to the whole People of God, precisely through the Bishops, who are constituted by God as, “authentic guardians, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church,” showing itself from Assembly to Assembly to be an eloquent expression of synodality as “[a] constitutive dimension of the Church.”

In effect, however, the reforms Pope Francis introduced on Tuesday may create a situation in which the bishops gathered in synod assembly act at least as much as filters, as they do channels for the voice of the faithful.

The role of the General Secretary appears greatly increased and his powers expanded, along with those of the General Secretariat. These expanded powers especially regard the steering of Synod Assemblies, from their early organisation, through the sessions, to the drafting and approval of final documents — all of which come to be part of the Synod Assembly proper.

Though the Synod of Bishops remains a consultative body, the new law envisions a sort of elision of the body’s teaching authority with that of the Roman Pontiff. Article 18 § 2 reads, “If expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff, the final document participates in the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor to Peter.”

Lawyers will quibble over just what sort of elision that is, as they will also discuss the nature of and extent the participation any document thus approved has in Papal teaching authority.

Read on at The Catholic Herald

Update with further reading: New Apostolic Constitution Appears to Formalize the Hijacking of the Synod Process

Ed Pentin on Twitter

 

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4 Responses to Episcopalis communio: what does the Pope’s new document mean for the Church?

  1. “If expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff, the final document participates in the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor to Peter.”

    Edward Pentin reported on the manipulation of the Synod on the Family https://bit.ly/2PKXOe4

    You have to wonder if future synodal manipulation will also be part of the “ordinary Magisterium of the Successor to Peter.”

  2. Also, Does it also apply retroactively to other recent synods?

  3. Mary Salmond says:

    RJB: thanks for the Edward Pentin article in the NCRegister about the manipulation of “synods”. Don’t need anymore manipulation than what is going on with “words, people, and power.”

  4. DonnaLiane says:

    Considering the Bishops named in recent scandals, and their inclination to favour homosexuality and the secretary’s controlling role, I do not hold hope for primarily good coming out of this. It is designed to allow others to take the heat for Bergoglio and to get more changes approved faster. The aim is to overturn Catholicism teaching by teaching

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