October 12, 2012 John W John W's previous articles
Censorship and control of Synods
In his article Get the facts straight, Fr William Grimm recalls how the 1998 Asian Bishops' Synod report was doctored by the Vatican
Fr Grimm's analysis is backed up by these words from Kilian McDonnell's article Our dysfunctional Church (Tablet of Sep 8, 2001):
(People) feel disquiet, for example, about the norms composed by the Curia for the Synod of Bishops which meets at intervals in Rome. Archbishop Quinn in his book notes that the tendency is to restrict the synod as much as possible. It is called by the pope who sets the agenda; preliminary documents submitted to Rome by episcopal conferences are not permitted to be shared with other conferences or made public; the synod is held in Rome; prefects of the Roman Curia are members, and in addition the pope himself directly appoints 15 per cent of the membership; the synod does not have a deliberative vote; its deliberations are secret, as are its recommendations to the pope; the pope writes and issues the final document after the synod is finished and the bishops have returned home.
During the 1998 Asian Synod, the participants were informed by Cardinal Jan Schotte, the synod's Belgian general secretary, that they were not to use the word subsidiarity in the concluding propositions submitted to the pope
Another example: according to Roman norms a retired bishop can be elected to synods. Accordingly the US National Bishops' Conference elected Archbishop Quinn, retired Archbishop of San Francisco, to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America in 1997. Next day the bishops were informed by Rome that rules had been changed and it was no longer permissible for a retired bishop to be elected. Quinn, whose lecture on the reform of the papacy had been delivered in Oxford in 1996 before being published in book form in 1999, had to stand down. Yet two other retired bishops, a Panamanian and Italian, attended the same synod.
On a personal note, I remember the Hong Kong Diocesan Synod in the year 2,000, of which I was a conscripted member. At the very first meeting of some 200 delegates, we were asked to nominate what topics we'd like to have discussed at future meetings
were shocked at the second meeting to find that their top-of-the-list topics
(e.g. anything to do with China) were deleted,
and replaced with a safe list of seven topics (as recorded in this report).
As a result of which fewer and fewer delegates continued to attend the Synod
Such are (most?) Synods these days in the Church.....tightly controlled and censored ......not unlike meetings of the National People's Congress in Bejing or the Parliament of North Korea
a more positive note, see: Catholic
Synods in Australia
by Peter J. Wilkinson