Archbishop Costelloe: Cardinal Newman’s ‘development of doctrine’ is key to understanding the synod

By Gerard O’Connell, 16 November 2023
President of the Plenary Council, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, addresses Members of the Plenary Council during the opening plenary of the Second Assembly in Sydney. Image: ACBC/Supplied


“I don’t think we experienced the inversion of the pyramid model of the church at the synod; rather we experienced a different model altogether of the church,” the Australian archbishop Timothy Costelloe, S.D.B., one of the president delegates of the synod, told America’s Vatican correspondent in this exclusive interview in Rome on Oct. 30.

In this interview, which has been edited for clarity and length, he described “being a synodal church” as “an experience” that “we have to live in order to understand it.”


Gerard O’Connell: You were one of the nine president delegates of the synod. What’s your overview of what you’ve experienced?

Archbishop Costelloe: I remain very positive about the whole experience. I think it’s important to remember that this is the end of the first assembly and there’s another assembly in 12 months’ time. So, the question I would ask is: Are we well positioned now to take the next steps in the discernment process? The answer is yes.

If people were expecting final decisions at the end of the first assembly, they’ll be quite disappointed. But it was always going to be the case that at the end of the first assembly we would hopefully have clarified what the main issues were, delved into them a little deeper, allowed things to rise to the surface so that we now know what it is that we really need to discern more deeply as we move forward. I think we achieved all of that.


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Gerard O’Connell is America’s Vatican correspondent and author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History. He has been covering the Vatican since 1985.

With thanks to America and Gerard O’Connell, where this article originally appeared.


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