A new document of Pope Francis. A milestone towards the democratisation of the Church


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A new document of Pope Francis. A milestone towards the democratisation of the Church
fot.REUTERS/Tony Gentile? FORUM

An apostolic constitution Episcopalis communio issued in the Vatican on Tuesday will surprise everyone who has been accustomed to the hierarchical structure of the Church and to the role of the Holy Father being perceived as the first teacher. This is because the principles of the document democratise the Church in an institutionalised manner. We can even call it a revolution in the management of the Church.

 

One of the novelties introduced by Episcopalis communio is the establishment of pre-synodal consultations and the decision – attention! – that the final document of the synod takes part in the ordinary teaching of the Holy Father! This news may be shocking to those who carefully kept track of the elaboration of final documents of the previous synod of Pope Francis – the documents that, as a result of democratic voting, contained fragments allowing the Holy Communion to be granted to divorced persons and proposing a change of approach to homosexual relationships.

 

As reported by the Polish Catholic Information Agency, the new apostolic constitution stipulates the possibility of convoking a pre-synodal assembly (as has already happened in the case of the Synod on Young People that begins on 3rd October). From now on, the Pope may also decide that the synod assembly will be divided into a few stages held at various times. The new apostolic constitution refers to three phases of the synod: the preparatory phase, the celebratory phase, and the implementation phase. Referring to the celebratory phase, the document reminds us that the Holy Father always presides the sessions of the synod and appoints one or more delegated chairmen.  The synod works during general congregations and in small circles. A free exchange of opinions on the issues being considered is also possible from time to time.

 

Episcopalis communio indicates that the outcome of works of sessions of the synod is the final document. If it is clearly approved by synodal fathers and by the Holy Father, it takes part in the Pope’s ordinary teaching. If the Roman Bishop grants the decisive vote to the synod assembly, pursuant to Canon 343 of the Code of Canon Law and when the final document is ratified and promulgated by St. Peter’s Successor, it participates in the Pope’s ordinary teaching. In such a case, the final document should be published with the signature of the Holy Father and members of the synod.

 

Previously, as you may remember, popes issued their own apostolic exhortations after synods (for example, Amoris laetitia was announced in this way); as Saint Peter’s successors, they assumed the effort and responsibility for teaching God’s People and giving instructions to priests, obviously taking some opinions of the participants of the Synod into account. Thus, the step that is aimed at decentralising the decision-making process may also be interpreted as a step that blurs the responsibility for the “ordinary teaching” of the Pope, who will now be entitled to refer to the democratic voice of the synod.

 

Apostolic exhortations have usually been part of ordinary teaching, because the scope of the category of extraordinary teaching usually includes the Pope’s opinions when he intends to “define” the truth that it is necessary to believe in or reject.  In such cases, the category of infallibility applies. The Pope’s other teaching, which is also often included in papal encyclicals, is ordinary teaching.

 

It is worth adding that after the last few synods it was not disclosed which of the synodal fathers had voted for which solution.

 

This is not the end of changes – from now on, not only bishops will participate in council sessions. The PCIA reports that, pursuant to the new apostolic constitution, the Holy Father may summon also other persons not being bishops to participate in the synod assembly and will always determine their role on his own.

 

The Holy Father decided that the new apostolic constitution would enter into force upon its publication in the L’Osservatore Romano.

 

 

Krystian Kratiuk

Source: Polish Catholic Information Agency


 

 


DATA: 2018-09-21 12:47
 
 
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