CV NEWS FEED // Polish Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki criticized the recent Synod on Synodality for giving voice to “non-Catholic” opinions, saying “the faithful need clarity” in an interview with Catholic World Report this week.
Gądecki, a Pope John Paul II appointee, is the Archbishop of Poznań, Poland and a member of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. He has attended several synods, including the Synod on Synodality this October.
“Everyone was invited to participate, regardless of their attitude to the faith and the Catholic Church,” he noted. “As a result of this approach, sometimes the “non-Catholic” voice was more audible than the “Catholic” one,” Gądecki observed.
He also noted that many of Pope Francis’s statements have been “interpreted differently by different theologians and bishops,” leading to confusion for the faithful.
“The faithful need clarity in matters of faith and morality. The point is for the Pope to express his position clearly, not by “winking” to those on the left or right,” he said.
Gądecki found several problems with the structure of the October Synod, from its lack of “authentic conversation” to the incorporation of the German document on the Synodal Way.
Reflecting on his experience with the small groups in the Synod, he said:
The requirement was to “listen without prejudice” to the interlocutor and not enter into polemics. It is an interesting experience, but it does not serve dialogue, that is, a rational search for the truth… In addition, specific issues were assigned to each table in advance, so being assigned to a particular group was equivalent to being excluded from the conversation on other topics.
“The group of non-bishops involved was very diverse, and the manner in which they were nominated made it questionable whether their views were representative of a given Church, diocese, or parish,” he continued.
On the opening day of the synod, participants received the documents of the German Synodale Weg via email, according to Gądecki.
“Almost all of the demands listed there raise serious concerns for me,” Gądecki said of the documents. “I believe the Church in Germany is in the greatest crisis since the Reformation. In turn, I read the mailing of the above documents as an attempt to disseminate the German problems across the Church.”
He expressed concerns about the German church to Pope Francis in March of this year after he sent a letter expressing his “fraternal concern” to German Bishop Georg Bätzing in February.
Gądecki also criticized the use of the word “inclusivity” throughout the Synod, noting that while the Gospel is for all people, “the invitation of the Lord Jesus did not mean that everyone is welcome on their own terms.”
Although “inclusion” was often repeated in the Synod Hall, few people are wondering what it means. Meanwhile, before it reached the synod hall, the term was clearly defined in the language of secular politics. We should not associate it only with “all-inclusive” holidays but also with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the UN Women’s agenda. The documents of these institutions are unequivocal in their undermining the binary division of sex and recognizing all forms of gender expression as equivalent.
“The word “inclusivity” definitely does not fit into Christian theology. It comes to us from the social sciences. It is where the problem arises,” he argued.
Churches of Excess and Churches of Scarcity
Gądecki observed that at the 2023 Synod, the wealthier Western churches and the rest of the church came together:
The main issues raised by Western Churches, including the German Synodale Weg, are those of a consumer civilization in which people have become accustomed to not having to deny themselves anything. Churches from developing countries often lack material resources but do not lack faith and witness to life. Thus, we have a meeting of Churches of “excess” and Churches of “scarcity.”
Those “Churches of Excess” often struggle with Church teaching on the priesthood and sexuality.
Hence the question: will the synod in its entirety be a place for the transmission of faith or, rather, unbelief? I think that Christians in the West often doubt that they have something so essential to communicate to people that their fate, i.e., salvation or damnation, depends on its acceptance or rejection. So, to avoid being rejected, they try to hide that part of Jesus’ teaching which might meet with opposition and expose only that which is shared with the world.
He also criticized the idea that women should become deacons or priests, noting that the main role of early Church female deacons was to help with immersion Baptisms for the sake of modesty.
When asked about those advocating for blessing homosexual couples, Gądecki emphasized that “Christ is the Saviour of all people” though the “conditions” for a genuine encounter with Christ involve a “turning away from sin and adopting a lifestyle in accordance with the Gospel.”
The task of the Synod was to rekindle the charism of evangelization among both the laity and the clergy. The appreciation of the laity in the Church is critical, but it cannot lead to the destruction of the hierarchical and apostolic structure of the Church,” he added.
A Question of Interpretation
On the other hand, we have some understatements on the part of Pope Francis, which are sometimes interpreted differently by different theologians and bishops. Thus, it is said that the Pope wants something, although nowhere is it articulated clearly or – which is very important for the official teaching of the Church – justified in the light of Tradition. In turn, this leads to a situation you mentioned that same-sex unions are blessed in Belgium, although the Pope never officially allowed it.
He ended the interview by bringing up a saint whom the USCCB recently recommended to be a Doctor of the Church.
“St. John Henry Newman, who was grateful that despite many turbulent events the light of faith reached his generation untainted, states that sometimes in history, the torch of orthodox faith was carried by only one man, as everyone else had gone astray, including the bishops,” he said.
In this image, I think he effectively portrays our trust in the Holy Spirit, who will not allow the light kindled by Christ to be extinguished or replaced by some other light.