Seek the openness of synodality, not the barrenness of ideology

By Michael Sean Winters, 27 May 2022
Parishioners are seen during the Diocese of Parramatta Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops at St Nicholas of Myra Parish, Penrith. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


One of the most obvious attributes of a Catholic worldview is its penchant for thinking in humanistic ways that combine and connect, that incorporate and include. The Catholic intellectual tradition has a “both/and” tic, not an “either/or” tic. We do not favor faith over reason as Luther insisted a Christian must, but look for ways that faith and reason both make sense of the mysteries of faith. Catholics insist on a place for both grace and nature, not one or the other.

Catholic social doctrine is an example of a Catholic worldview being applied to social, economic and political realities. Its four pillars — human dignity, the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity — are all related one to another, and they show, too, how the ethical conclusions are rooted in doctrinal and scriptural claims, as Brooklyn’s Msgr. John Strynkowski explained in a guest column here some years ago.

The ability to resist ideology is absolutely necessary if the synodal process is to work. When people start relying on slogans, when their interventions sound canned, like they are checking boxes, that shows they are not actually listening, that they resolve the challenges of our time in ideological ways.

We all do it more than we like to admit. The synod process demands we set our ideological blinders aside, and listen instead to the words of the prophet Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

Ideology keeps us in a barren wilderness, relying only on ourselves. Synodality opens us to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

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Michael Sean Winters covers the nexus of religion and politics for NCR.

With thanks to National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and Michael Sean Winters, where this article originally appeared.


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