Pope Francis’ appointment of Xavière Sister Nathalie Becquart and now-bishop-elect Luis Marín de San Martín to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops is only the latest step in his efforts to push the global church toward a synodal model of leadership. That is, a model in which bishops and lay people speak freely together about the issues affecting them and where they believe the Spirit is calling them, and, through discussion and voting, reach decisions together.
The pope has taken Vatican II’s call to synodality seriously: After acknowledging in the first year of his pontificate that the synod of bishops was “half baked” in comparison to the model the Second Vatican Council called for, he instituted a college of cardinal advisers who he suggested could eventually be elected by the Vatican’s standing synod of bishops and held high-profile synods on the family, young people and the Amazon.
Meanwhile, the U.S. bishops are in dire need of the collegiality being pushed forward at the Vatican.
The bishops who pushed for these initiatives generally embrace a “culture warrior” approach to church leadership, putting their effort into scoring political points and building their own cult followings—the exact opposite of the synodal call to unity, cooperation and listening.
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Colleen Dulle is a writer and producer at America Media, where she hosts the weekly news podcast “Inside the Vatican.” Her forthcoming biography of the French poet, social worker and mystic Madeleine Delbrêl will be published by Liturgical Press.
With thanks to Go, Rebuild My House, a publication of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States.