Synodality means communion, not ‘populism’, Pope says

Pope Francis is pictured while greeting the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 25, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Synodality is not a reorganisation of Church structures, but rather a path of ecclesial communion that seeks to open minds and hearts to the will of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said.

In a video message to members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on May 26, the Pope said synodality does not imply “a more or less democratic, much less a ‘populist’ way, of being a Church. These are deviations”.

“Synodality is the dynamic dimension, the historical dimension of ecclesial communion founded on the Trinitarian communion, which, appreciating simultaneously the ‘sensus fidei’ of all God’s holy faithful people, apostolic collegiality and unity with the Successor of Peter, must animate the conversion and reform of the Church at every level.”

The commission members were meeting in Rome from May 24-27 to discuss the theme of synodality, which is also the theme of the next Synod of Bishops.

The Pope said that he believes the pastoral reality in Latin America is one in which “synodality took root a long time ago”.

Recalling the rise of liberation theology in Latin America, “which played a lot with Marxist analysis”, the Pope noted that early published works emphasised its Latin American roots, but “almost 80 per cent of the notes were written in German”.

“They did not have the slightest idea. It was an ideological interpretation of what is a grounded Latin American path. And I say ‘grounded’ because Latin American spirituality is tied to the earth and cannot be separated from it.”

But to face the pastoral and social problems today, he added, the Church must “relearn to walk together”, and in doing so, “it is always important to maintain an incomplete way of thinking”.

“I am allergic to thoughts that are already complete and closed,” the Pope said.

The Holy Spirit, he said, can inspire true change only when “our thoughts are incomplete; when they are complete, it doesn’t work”.

“When someone is a know-it-all, the gift cannot be received. When we think we know everything, the gift does not educate us because it cannot enter our hearts,” he said. “In other words, there is nothing more dangerous for synodality than thinking that we know everything, that we understand everything, that we control everything.”

As part of the Roman Curia, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America has an important role in helping to “remove us a little bit from some of our clerical habits and customs, both here in the Curia and in every place where there are Latin American communities”.

He also encouraged the commission’s members to promote “true synodality” and warned that “synodality without communion can become ecclesiastical populism”.

“Synodality should lead us to live more intensely ecclesial communion, in which the diversity of charisms, vocations and ministries are harmoniously integrated, animated by the same baptism, which makes us all sons and daughters” in Christ, the Pope said.

Photo: Pope Francis is pictured while greeting the crowd during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on May 25 (CNS Photo)


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  1. Katya says

    This would be easier if those who
    were in positions of “authority” took
    a close hard look at the reality of
    what is termed “Sacrament” and how
    many today are really interested in
    Facts must be faced.
    1. Why is there a paucity of
    youth following the faithful in
    church on a Sunday for mass.
    2. Why is there so few vocations
    to the priesthood and religious
    3. Why are there so few who attend
    4. WHO are the active members of
    church and in what way?
    5. Why is it that the birth rate of
    every European country below2?
    [Australia 1.65, Canada 1.6, U.S. 1.7,
    NZ 1.86] Afghanistan is 4.0
    Synods, Plenaries, Vatican II
    all these offer fresh opportunities
    but the results matter. Otherwise
    it becomes a futile exercise which
    does nothing.
    Parents are primary educators, not
    secondary educators, and should be
    respected for this.
    Most importantly church is not built
    on synods, but on its martyrs and

  2. Dr.Cajetan Coelho says

    Change is the spice of life. Our thoughts are incomplete; when they are complete, it doesn’t work – says the Holy Father.

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