For those who care¶
A stormy world¶
The world seems to be quite stormy these times: pandemic, climate crisis, fake news, information pollution, ransomware, terrorism, …
Humanity in the digital age is experiencing an unprecedented challenge: we need to find ways to dialogue about questions that had never required a world-wide consensus as long as real-life contact between cultures was rather exceptional. Video conferences have become normal during the COVID pandemic. This is just a recent and probably not the last revolutionary change in our social infrastructure.
Religion is everywhere¶
We all rely on some “religion” if we define “religion” as a set of beliefs we rely on. Religion is unavoidable because we cannot fact-check every statement, we always need to rely on certain basic assumptions.
I didn’t say that we need a religion for every decision. When the terminal in the supermarket tells me that there isn’t enough money on your account, then you don’t need to “believe” it because you can check the facts.
But already a question like “Should Estonia build a nuclear plant?” (or if you prefer: “Should we raise the wages of teachers?) cannot be fully fact-checked. There are honest people who are convinced that the answer is “yes”, and there are other honest people who answer “no”. That’s a fact: we don’t have a consensus on these questions.
Any organization that propagates information we cannot fact-check is a religion. Every nation of the world is a religion. Every political party is a religion. Every private corporation is a religion. Every football club can become a religion.
Being realistic means to acknowledge the fact that there are many questions to which we don’t know the answer. And some of these questions are existential.
The basic code of conduct on the previous page is such an answer to an existential question. Nobody can prove it, we can only believe in it (or not). It is a question of religion, not a question of science. Science cannot answer it, doesn’t even try to answer it.
The Roman Catholic church has useful know-how¶
Also the Catholic Church is experiencing storms. Loud debates between conservative and progressive schools, or scandals about sexual or financial topics, etc.
Such storms are nothing new in the long history of the Roman Catholic church. She experiences such storms occur every now and then, and until now has survived them all. She is the oldest and biggest organization in the world. The Church not only survives all storms and crises, she actually grows and evolves through them.
A faithless historian once worked for several months in the Vatican’s archives on some research project. After this he became faithful and asked for being baptized. His friends asked “why?”. He answered: “In the archives of the Vatican I saw how many mistakes have been done by the Church during its history. If a corporation would make this kind of mistakes, it would soon go bust (bankrupt). Why is the Church still there? There must be some divine will behind it.” (I didn’t fact-check that story, but se non è vero, è ben trovato.)
Note the difference between “the Roman Catholic church” (a real and legally defined organization in the visible world) and “the Church” as the ideal community (in the invisible world)) that unites all those who believe in the Gospel.
I can understand if you don’t care about the former, but I hope that you care about the latter.
The Roman Catholic church has of course her teachings and rules, but these teachings have grown during history and “obviously” need a major update. I write “obviously” between quotes because this is a taboo topic! A considerable number of Christians seem convinced that “the teachings of the Church” are eternal and that the mere idea of updating them is heresy!
But how exactly does this organization work? What is the secret of her success, the reason for her survival despite her mistakes? It has always worked “somehow automatically” or “because God wants it” (as we use to say).
But a comprehensive answer to this question is being demanded with more and more urgency. Not only because internal debates demand clarifications. Not only because public order demands explanations. There is another, even more important reason: humankind as a whole struggles with exactly the same kind of challenges as the Roman Catholic church.
The world needs a Church¶
The basic code of conduct on the previous page is inspired from the Bible (Mark 12:28-34). Or maybe it’s the opposite: the Bible is inspired by this basic code of conduct, which seems to be universally accepted by many humans. Most of us try to love the world as it is, and try to love each of their fellow humans. Most of us believe that this is a “good” principle to adopt.
Of course it is just a principle. It leaves much room for interpretation in most real-life situations.
and if the church teaches a wrong religion, we need to tell her.
The Synod on Synodality is about how to cultivate this basic code of conduct in the real world. It is about how all humans can live together in peace on this planet.
We all are “faithful” in the meaning of “full of faith”. Some of us believe that prayer and going to church help them to grow, others believe the opposite. Read my definition of faith and let me know if you feel that I am missing something.
So whatever you think regarding religious teachings, rites and prayers, you too might have something important to say at this Synod.
The challenges of the Church are of same nature as those we experience world-wide in politics, social media and public life.
I am aware that not all “Christians” agree with all above. I beg your pardon for them. They will understand sooner or later.
The world needs synodality¶
The modus vivendi et operando of the Roman Catholic church is special, it is obviously neither democratic nor monarchistic. It is a know-how about living together sustainably and in diversity, and this know-how might be useful for public administrations and governments as well.
The Church herself started only quite recently to discover that her business model and code of conduct has something special and that it deserves a name. The word “synodality” (actually a neologism), emerged as a name for this model.
Synodality is our way of living together, sustainably and united in diversity.
The Church has done already some work for explaining this synodality. A number of documents have been published by the Vatican. But even more work is ahead.
In order to prepare this Synod, Pope Francis started a huge and unprecedented project: he wants to hear the voice of everybody. Not only Catholics, but all the Baptized and even non-Christians are invited to participate.
Believe it or not: on this journey we are together with the whole mankind. Synodality is unavoidable.
The Synod on Synodality will be about all this. The Pope has important influence on global politics.
The Pope invites you to participate. That’s why I invite you to help me with my report.
Maybe your voice is the straw to break the camel’s back that makes things change (or prevents things from changing).