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Homework for the sinoditalgutiim

Thursday, February 3, 2022 (08:29)

Dear sinoditalgulised,

I was two days in bed with a fever, which meant among others that the first real-life meeting of the sinoditalgutiim had to be postponed once more. Next possible date is only on February 16th (because on February 9th I am still in quarantine). Please let me know your availability on this date.

Two days in bed gave me time to think about the project. I realized that my draft is too long and too poorly structured. Here is my attempt of an “executive summary”. I invite you to comment. No need to respond to all items at once. Feel free to speak boldly (Some of my statements may be foolish or unclear, and I won’t throw you out of the team just because we disagree about some point).

An executive summary

(1) We need an independent institution to unite all Christians because the referee cannot participate in the game. We have an architecture problem: The Pope exercises two different roles: “research” (“What does the Gospel mean today?”, “Where to go?”) and “deployment” (“How to get there?”, “How to explain this to the faithful?”).

(2) I meanwhile imagine this institution as a small community of individuals who live and pray together with the Pope. They will come from very different backgrounds, similar to the disciples of Jesus. The Pope will be their direct apostolic leader. They will be economically independent and make their own living. They will run a guesthouse, and their main service will be to listen to their guests.

(3) I claim that Synodality means to be together (we can’t refuse anybody who wants to join or to stay) and on our way (i.e. we know that we don’t know the truth). We have only the Scriptures as our guide and the Holy Spirit to interpret it. And we see that our interpretations can conflict with each other.

(4) The Church has always been apostolic. This concept needs better documentation. The basic idea behind apostolic governance is that an individual person gets appointed to do a given job. Any appointed person can herself appoint other persons to help her with her job. The Pope is the top-level appointer and gets appointed by the procedure of papal succession. Apostolic governance embraces democracy and monarchy and as such can be an answer to issues of these government forms. It has the potential to lead to a new social and economic system called synodalism, as an alternative to capitalism, communism and socialism.

(5) The SC will also accept donations and decide how to share them. This is only possible because they will use public accounting. Yesterday I asked a professional sworn auditor whether my idea that the world needs public accounting (see Public money, public agreements) can “have a future”. He was unable to answer. He did not even seem to understand it.

(6) I currently define at least two “naive” definitions: A faithful is “anybody who cares about their faith and believes in the Gospel”. And a sin is “a choice that causes harm to somebody”. See also About the YOUCAT below. As a software developer I claim that a definition should be a short sentence that every end user manages to remember. The “end users” of the church teachings range from youngsters preparing for confirmation over farm workers to doctors in theology.

(7) I currently claim that the main job of the SC community will be to publish and maintain a small but authoritative website with “master teachings” that “explain” the Gospel in our time. The apostles of the Pope won’t have much time to teach themselves directly, they will delegate this job to others. How would that website look like? See The approval system below.

(8) “Announcing the Gospel to everybody” is the major job of the Church. This job is poorly done today. Two observations:

(9) Church representatives happen to teach things that are in contradiction with plain common sense. “Estonians are a sceptical people. When you tell them something that is in contradiction with plain common sense, they simply turn away and will distrust you for the rest of their life.”

(10) My simple question “What is this Gospel, this message that you teach in your church?” received unsatisfying, confusing and contradicting answers. How are we supposed to announce something that cannot be summarized “in 60 seconds”? You cannot announce something without having clear knowledge about it.

(11) The Gospel is more than any teaching, it is a divine message. It is revealed to us in nature, in the thankful smile of a poor, in a personal experience of success or failure. But also in rites, sacraments, and other non-verbal signs that deserve regulation and formal approval.

(12) The Examples of some teachings are only my personal opinion (unless we would all agree on these formulations, which is unlikely). We should either present them together with a completely different example, or remove them. My original idea was to show how different interpretations of the Gospel can be.

(13) I say that Christians dare to speak about sins because we believe that God forgives them even before we realize or repent them. Your sins may cause you trouble in the visible world, but they cannot separate your from God’s love nor from communion in the Church. This is one of the central messages of the Gospel. It is especially visible in in Luke 15:11–32 (the Parable of the Prodigal Son) where the father had been waiting for the return of his son already before the son had shown repentance.

(14) I currently claim that there are organizations who do not actively use the Bible as a tool of inspiration and hence their language is not biblical, but their mission is in harmony with the Gospel. We can consider them as “indirectly inspired”.

The approval system

One thing is clear: the SC institution is not going to reinvent the wheel. There are so many important and good projects (each having their website). Here are some examples of such projects:

  • https://laudatosimovement.org/learn/our-story/

  • https://francescoeconomy.org is a website “organized by” 3 organizations:

    • Diocesi di Assisi - Nocera Umbra - Gualdo Tadino

    • Serafico di Assisi promotes and conducts rehabilitation, psychosocial education and provides social and clinical assistance for children and young adults with physical, mental and sensory disabilities.

    • Economia di Comunione (EdC), a part of the Focolare movement.

      The Economy of Communion (EoC), founded by Chiara Lubich in May 1991 in San Paolo Brazil, draws entrepreneurs, workers, directors, consumers, savers, citizens, scholars, economists, all committed, at various levels, in promoting a practice and an economic culture imprinted on communion, gratuity and reciprocity. Through their own example, they propose an alternative lifestyle to the dominant one within our capitalistic system.

      #ProfeticEconomy is a journey undertaken by associations and movements that intend to give answers to the cry of the earth and the poor together. Our world is facing an ecological and social crisis. Climate change and increasing inequality are fuelled by unjust economic structures, short-term policies and outdated aid practices. What about https://www.propheticeconomy.org/

We can say that aforementioned websites are already working for the Synodal Church. The question is not about replacing them but about uniting them.

A counter-example is Catholic Answers, which AFAICS falsifies the Gospel and harms the Synodal Church. They call themselves “dedicated to sharing what the Church really teaches” and claim to be “the world’s largest source for reliable information about the Catholic Church’s doctrine, tradition, and beliefs.”

That’s why my idea of the approval system (“digital imprimatur”) is probably important. The most important job of the SC might be to emit “approvals” to the work of other communities. A positive approval means “They are doing good work, you can trust them” while a negative approval means “Don’t trust them, they are doing bad work.” See also The approval system below.

Just after writing this, my smartphone notified me of the following news: Papst Franziskus würdigt Säkularinstitute. In other words: Approval (both positive and negative) has always been one of the Pope’s most important jobs.

In the digital era the church must use modern technology to share such approvals. Every approval issued by the Pope must go into a database, which must be shared as a Web API, so that every Internet user can have an option to quickly see “the Pope’s opinion” about any given website.

Of course this approval system is not a form of censure (because using it is optional), it is a service provided by the Synodal Church for free to everybody who wants to use it.

About the YOUCAT

The YOUCAT defines sin at two different places:

Sin is a rejection of God and the refusal to accept His love. This is manifested in a disregard for His commandments. (#67)

Sin is a word, deed or plan by which man consciously and intentionally breaks the real order of things that has been set up by God’s loving care. (#315)

I perceive definition #67 as presynodal because we don’t “know” God and therefore cannot know whether we are “rejecting Him” or “refuse to accept His love” or “disregard His commandments”. Maybe we are just reject an obsolete interpretation of the Gospel.

I perceive definition #315 as useless because it leaves too much room for interpretation.