CV NEWS FEED // Bishop Robert Barron advised US Catholics not to worry about major doctrinal changes at the upcoming synod on synodality as a diverse range of bishops, priests, and laity meet to discuss the future of the Church.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Barron, Bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota and founder of the Word on Fire Institute, discussed his appointment to represent the USCCB at the upcoming synod, and what the synod means for American Catholics.
Barron will join USCCB President Archbishop Timothy Brogolio, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop Daniel Flores, and Bishop Kevin Rhoades at the October synod. The group was elected by the bishops at their November conference to represent the majority opinion at the global synod. Pope Francis hand-picked other delegates to represent the United States, including controversial figures such as Fr. James Martin and Cardinal Robert McElroy.
“I think the American delegation, if you look at the whole thing, kind of balances out ideologically. So I think that’s what the pope seems to like,” Barron said.
The synod will bring together almost 400 Catholics from across the world to discuss the future of the Church and propose changes during two sessions in October 2023 and October 2024. After the concluding session, Pope Francis will have the final say and the ability to critique, reject, or accept the synod’s proposals.
“The pope has said it over and over and over again in the lead up to the Synod—that the Synod is not a parliament, not a democratic process. We’re not voting on doctrine,” said Barron.
Barron views the synod not as an opportunity to bring about reform but to strategize about how to effectively evangelize and accompany people from all walks of life.
“It’s much more about strategy,” Barron continued. “A lot of people, at least in the West, I think, feel alienated from the church for different reasons. And are there better strategies we can adopt to reach out to them, re-engage them, and so on?”
Barron participated in the 2018 Synod on Young People in Rome and said that it was a positive experience, giving him hope for the 2023 synod.
Yet, in the interview, Barron acknowledges that he doesn’t fully know what to expect during the synod, but he trusts Pope Francis to guide it with wisdom and responsibility.
“I think that’s what we’ll be talking about,” said Barron. “So I’ll take the pope at his word. I don’t think we’re discussing doctrine.”
Barron hopes that the upcoming synod will continue the work begun with the Second Vatican Council, to help the Church better fulfill its mission through evangelization and meeting people along their journey.
“I think coming out of Vatican II, that’s been the clear goal of all the popes, including Francis—how do we make our message more compelling to people?’” Barron said. “And if they’re feeling alienated from the church, well, that’s a problem. We have to find a way to reach out to them and re-engage them for the sake of the mission.