Synodality: Power to the people

The Synod word has fallen out of widespread use in Catholic circles, but it is back, big-time.

What does it mean? What are the issues? How should we approach a Synod?

Joining Flashes of Insight host Dr Joe Grayland to discuss Synods and Synodality are: Cardinal John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia and Professor Thomas O’Loughlin, Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham.

Synods were introduced to the Archdiocese of Wellington when Cardinal Tom Williams was archbishop.

Reasonably rare occurrences, the Archdiocese has experienced four synods, two while Cardinal Williams was archbishop and two during Cardinal Dew’s time.

Dew told the discussion that while some will be familiar with the concept of a Synod, he suspected most in the archdiocese were unlikely to be. He explained that in the Archdiocese, synods are about working together, listening together and encouraging the participation of lay people in setting the Archdiocese’s direction.

Pressed on whether he thought bishops are prepared to give up their authority, Dew said it was implicit that the episcopal authority would change radically.

He cited a very tangible example of synodality in operation.

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The Vatican’s response to same-gender blessings

The Vatican’s same-gender blessings statement (Responsum) has back-fired according to theologian Dr James Alison.

“I’ve been rather encouraged, and particularly surprised how much more unworriedly critical a vast number of people, including cardinals and bishops have been”.

He’s calling the Vatican’s move ‘a shot in the foot’.

James Alison spoke with Professor Thomas O’Loughlin, Fr Michael Kelly SJ, hosted by Dr Joe Grayland on Flashes of Insight.

He characterised the Vatican’s document as a dialogue that is failing to be dialogical.

Alison says the Responsum is an attempt to shut down ‘horizontal conversation’ between people by introducing a ‘vertical directive’.

The Vatican is trying to place a trump card he claims.

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Seeing people as people

Where is the church going with the debate over same sex blessings?

Should our understanding of liturgy, blessing and sacraments be radically rethought or is the problem that we understand blessing, sacraments and liturgy as things that are “done to us”?

Answering from a liturgical perspective Tom O’Loughlin says ‘liturgy is a human response to the divine, to each other and to human need’.

The church has a role of interceding for people and if we lose sight of this, we minister to the concept of marriage rather than two people who are giving themselves in marriage, one to the other: “Blessing is not a magical formula” says O’Loughlin.

James Alison considers that some Gay and Lesbian people are seeking the blessing of the church to celebrate a “fixed stage in their lives” and  “to bear witness to something”.

Both they and their families wish “to give thanks to God” he says: “We bless God and God blesses us”. We enter into the blessing.

Michael Kelly SJ points out that in the traditiional Catholic theology of marriage “the couple administer the sacrament to each other”.

What makes it a sacrament is they are baptised,” he says.

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The top-down assumption has made itself ridiculous

Because marriage equality is so prevalent in Catholic countries, Joe Grayland pose whether Catholic theology more than Protestant theology is more open to same-sex blessings?

Is there a difference between catholic and protestant theology – more than evangelical protestant theology?

James Alison responds to these questions.

“Intrinsic to Catholic theology is the notion that grace builds on nature and so once we work out what ‘is’; a homosexual person, grace flows, people flourish says James Alison.

So ‘yes’ is the answer.”

Alison points out that in his experience most Catholics, are not particularly worried about what the bible says about Gay and Lesbian people because “most Catholics don’t derive their faith from the bible – the bible goes along with their faith”.

In countries that were previously identified as Catholic, Alison sees a changing face to Catholic theology as a result of the impact of evangelical Protestantism.

In noting the change Alison says the ‘ground music’ of ‘ordinary religious discourse’ is now Protestant.

He puts this down to the evangelical and protestant groups not being elitist, and not identified with the ruling hierarchies.

He notes the irony that the Catholic Church has to sort of reply to newfound circumstance with more charismatic type worship, and this is adding to their problem.

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Liturgy more than ritual – Talking through the experience

Join Joe Gayland, Tom O’Loughlin, James Siemens, Carmel Pilcher, Kevin McGinnell, Sophy Morley, Jo and Gerard Shepherd, Judith Courtney, Judy Foster and Jo Ayers in this edition of Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy as they talk through the COVID-19 experience and ask about the lessons various parishes and church communities may have learned.

They also hint at some of the practices that as people of faith the Church could embrace in this changing world.

Liturgy is more than a ritual

This edition of Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy focuses on the Eucharist as something more than a ritual.

The discussion talks people through the COVID-19 experience and asks about the lessons we may have learned and hints at some of the practices that as people of faith we could embrace in this changing world.

Join Professor Thomas O’Loughlin as he talks with Dr Joseph Grayland to consider:

  • Liturgy adapted for COVID-19
  • Go back or go forward
  • Opportunities
  • Local expressions of liturgy
  • Vatican’s liturgical leadership
  • Real worship
  • Acknowledging the presence of God in our humanity
  • Incarnational liturgy

Eucharist the celebration of a people panel discussion

Join Dr Carmel Pilcher, Dr James Siemens and Jo Ayers and Professor Thomas O’Loughlin for a panel discussion hosted by Dr Joseph Grayland.

Under discussion is Eucharist as the Celebration of a people, a people attached to a greater body and the tensions that exist between individual expressions of thanksgiving and the expressions of thanks a community may offer.

Eucharist the celebration of a people

Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy switches focus to the Eucharist as the Celebration of a people, a people attached to a greater body and the tensions that exist between individual expressions of thanksgiving and the expressions of thanks a community may offer.

Particular issues discussed include:

  • Culture and inculturation and responsibility for liturgical prayer
  • What does giving thanks look like? Are there opportunities for difference?
  • Are the elements of bread and wine merely cultural?
  • Theology of the presider, theology of the assembly.
  • Presiding at liturgy as a function of culture.
  • Individual authenticity; belonging to the community.
  • The tension of local vs group authenticity.

Can you send an apple by email? – Part 3

In part three of Let’s Talk Liturgy the conversation continues about whether we can send an apple by email.

In this conversation we consider liturgy in the light of COVID-19 and examine

  • Priests saying Mass alone and online!
  • Real liturgy and virtual liturgy and search for a distinction
  • We ask what do we keep, change and let go of?
  • Consider the difference between watching football on TV and watching liturgy on TV and ask if there’s any difference
  • Lastly, we consider positive ideas on how to spiritually nourish ourselves while not going to Church and celebrating the Eucharist.

Can you send an apple by email? – Part 2

In part two of Let’s Talk Liturgy the conversation centres around

  • Liturgy as a product
  • Preparing liturgy
  • Change in liturgical language
  • People reduced to consumers
  • Christ in the assembly
  • Liturgy of the hours and a world view
  • I vs We
  • What to do in the absence of communal liturgy
  • Small worship groups
  • Worship bedrocks