Yesterday’s news that Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego is convoking a diocesan synod to consider how to embrace the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is both good news and important news. It is good, because too many bishops have sought to minimize or relativize the pope’s exhortation. McElroy, like Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose talk on Amoris Laetitia I discussed last week, does not seek to minimize the text but to embrace it, to take it seriously, and to respond to the invitations it contains. And, this call for a synod is important because Bishop McElroy is charting a path that I suspect more bishops will follow in the years ahead.
The most important part of the bishop’s letter is not what he has to say about Amoris, although that is important. No, the most important thing here is the synod itself. Pope Francis is inviting the church to conduct its business differently, to change the church’s from a strictly monarchical method to one that is rich in consultation and discernment, involving all the other bishops and the laity as well. This synodal approach has long roots in the history of both the universal church and the church in the U.S. The early ecumenical councils gave us the creeds that define the most basic tenets of our faith. The provincial and plenary councils of Baltimore in the nineteenth century entailed a practical collegiality that, in turn, led to the creation of a bishops’ conference in the 20th century. And, of course, the church in Latin America has developed extensive consultations at all levels of the church in advance of their continent-wide meetings of CELAM every 10 years.
Source: National Catholic Reporter