For years now, ordinary Catholics have been barraged with a number of trendy buzzwords and catchy slogans: “A listening Church,” “accompaniment,” “pastoral,” and more. While these words are not necessarily wrong or inappropriate for ecclesial discourse, they often serve as a Trojan horse through which heterodoxy and heteropraxy emerge.
As preparation for the “Synod on Synodality” begins, news regarding the extension of the German Church’s “Synodal Way” into 2023 has ensured that such ordinary Catholics will continue to hear the word “synodality” for the unforeseeable future. In his opening remarks for the synod’s preparatory phase, Pope Francis said, “There is no need to create another church, but to create a different church.” Of course, one wonders where the distinction between the two lies. And furthermore, how can an ordinary, right-believing Catholic survive this era of “synodality”?
Given the pervasive nature of contemporary Church jargon, it is worth sifting through true and false meanings of popular words, as one separates the wheat from the chaff (Matthew 3:12). It is obvious that “synodal,” like many other terms used in the Church today, is used indiscriminately and without precision. The word “synodal” is a combination of two Greek words, one meaning “together” and the other meaning “road” (or “way”). At face value, the words connote a sense of a journeying group, traveling together in a common direction.