All right, who is in charge of the US Catholic bishops’ twitter account? A few days ago that person sent a memorable tweet for the upcoming Synod on Synodality. Before going further, I have no idea what the Synod on Synodality (hereafter SOS) is about. Lutheran synods are easy and easily comprehended as difference in belief and practice; Catholic synods are best described as the five blind folded people trying to describe an elephant while each only touches one different part of the pachyderm. The Holy Father merely states that the SOS is “not a search for majority consensus.” We could go back to the 1980s and declare it a process whose goal is process; or the standard–don’t know and don’t care.
However someone did care enough at the US Bishops’ conference to tweet out the attitudes we should have regarding the SOS and asking people to pick their favorite. I know what you’re thinking, “What one person could be this naive and patronizing?” You are correct; it has to be the work of a committee. Bishops in our fair country prefer to work in committees so that no one prelate can be blamed for bad theology, detachment from reality and/or tweets. The tweet in question gives us the following “innovative outlook, inclusivity, open-mindedness, listening, accompaniment, co-responsibility, dialogue and a partridge in a pear tree.” I added the last one because it fit.
If you’ll open Holy Writ to the Gospel of Hipster, “And the Lord said to His Apostles, ‘Go therefore in the spirit of co-responsibility and inclusivity; listen and dialogue with all who are open-minded and have an innovative outlook, and know that I accompany you til the partridge departs the pear tree.'” A case could be made that Jesus was into platitudes as these but His language reflects a nuance of immediacy and care. His words were preaching, healing, teaching, driving out demons, forgiveness, eternal life, just to name a few. By the standards of some today these actions and teachings are “too much in the weeds.” Do we really want to get down and dirty in caring for people in need and preaching God’s love or impress the downtrodden with our open-mindedness?
As with the document on the Reception of the Holy Eucharist, there will be a US Bishops’ document on the SOS coming out in a year or two. The first document has already been put away on the top shelf of self congratulations, soon be joined by the one on the SOS. If we could so easily make poverty and hopelessness disappear.
Many bishops may not be in touch with their people, but at least we know a committee of them can create amusing tweets.