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HomeWorld & NationCatholic News AgencyArchbishop Chaput offers advice to the Synod on Synodality

Archbishop Chaput offers advice to the Synod on Synodality

By Eduardo Berdejo/Catholic News Agency

Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia Charles Chaput, OFMCap, has written some brief reflections addressed to the participants of the Synod on Synodality, noting that the most difficult problems for the Church today do not have to do with structures but with “what a human being really is.”

Writing for First Things in an article posted Oct. 6, the prelate responded to the question of what he would say to the synod delegates if he were there.

The former archbishop of Denver pointed out to the 450 participants that “the most difficult problems facing the Church today are not matters of ecclesial structure and process. They’re tied intimately to Psalm 8 and the question of who and what a human being really is. Do humans have a created nature? Are our bodies merely the disposable instruments of our appetites and will?”

The prelate warned that “a synodality that would ignore these issues, that might subordinate Christian faith to ambiguous social science and ‘paradigm shifts’ that focus away from the Church’s redemptive, supernatural mission, cannot serve her needs or her Lord.”

“At a minimum, synodality must never further divide her faithful at a time of internal confusion and grave external pressures,” he noted.

In his reflections, the American prelate also reminded the delegates that all their work must focus on “fidelity to Jesus Christ, to the Church, and to the Holy Father — in that order of priority.”

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“Fidelity to Jesus Christ implies obedience to his witness and Word. Fidelity to the Church implies heartfelt support for her teaching. Fidelity to the Holy Father implies speaking the truth in love to each other and to him (Eph 4:11–16) in all of your synodal discussions,” wrote Chaput, who participated in three synods on previous occasions.

“For the Christian,” he said, “there can be no genuine love ungrounded in the truth of God’s word as recorded in the New Testament and preserved by the Church through time.”

After noting that every synod has “internal pressures toward sometimes unhelpful and predetermined ends,” Chaput told the delegates: “It’s the task of the delegate to remember that the Church belongs to Jesus Christ; she is his Church first” and that the faithful are children of the Church, “not her architects.”

Referring to the theme of the gathering in Rome, “For a synodal church: communion, participation, and mission,” the archbishop emeritus explained that “‘communion’ is not a matter of shared opinion but shared faithfulness to truth received.”

“‘Participation’ is the task of bending our own wills to that truth. And ‘mission’ is the pursuit of our Lord’s Great Commission (Matt 28:16–20): not simply being leaven in the world, as vital as that is, but making disciples of all nations,” Chaput wrote.

In his reflection, the archbishop emeritus noted that the Church calls the faithful to root their sense of communion in the Lord and not fall into the errors of the world, which exclude God from any relationship.

Accommodating the Church to the world, he pointed out, “has never worked for the Church. It did not work in Europe. It does not work in my country. It will not work in China. The Church is finally about conversion.”

“Jesus was crucified precisely because he did not conform or accommodate, but rather bore witness to his Father,” Chaput said, noting that when he “accompanied the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he directed them to the Scriptures and the truth … and it was only then that they recognized him.”

“May God give you the wisdom and the courage to serve him faithfully in your work at the synod,” the prelate concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, Catholic News Agency’s (CNA) Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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