Pope Francis leads a meeting with cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and laypeople from around the world in the Synod Hall at the Vatican Oct. 9, 2021. “When the spirit of synodality is practiced, it would make the church an inverted pyramid,” a prominent Indian theologian told a recent forum on synodality. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
By Catholic News Service • Posted March 30, 2022
BENGALURU, India (CNS) — The Catholic Church’s hierarchy should undergo deep structural changes and share administrative powers with all Catholics if it wants to create a synodal church as envisioned by Pope Francis, said a prominent Indian theologian.
Father Felix Wilfred, former secretary of the theological advisory committee of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, said the synodality that Pope Francis is stressing calls for “a transition from the synodal of bishops as an institution to the synodal church” as a way of being. Ucanews.com reported he said this requires “deep structural changes” and should address “major theological issues.”
In a keynote address at a mid-March seminar on synodality before some 600 Catholic leaders, theologians and scholars, the 74-year-old theologian, who has been a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, made a series of recommendations, insisting that the Indian church needs to change radically to embody Pope Francis’ vision for a synodal church.
Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
Judges:8:22-23 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.
The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism. Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium. GC 588.2 – GC 588.3
“Synodality is the key concept in the ecclesiology of Pope Francis and the way for the church in the third millennium. Pope Francis proposes a macro vision, a 1,000-year program for the church in the third millennium,” he said.
“When the spirit of synodality is practiced, it would make the church an inverted pyramid. Canon law needs to undergo a thorough change, as the present code states clearly that the power of governance is reserved for those in sacred orders,” he said.
Ucanews.com reported Father Wilfred said through baptism, everyone is made equal, and all Catholics are expected to cooperate in the exercise of the power.
He questioned the Indian church continuing to have two different synodal structures — Eastern- and Latin-rite — despite both having the same socio, cultural and economic contexts.
The Indian Catholic Church includes the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches, which claim the apostolic tradition of St. Thomas, and the Latin-rite church introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
Each Eastern-rite church has its own bishops’ synod, and the Latin bishops have a separate bishops’ conference, ucanews.com reported. Indian bishops of all three rites together are members of a fourth body called the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Father Wilfred told the Bangalore gathering, which included bishops and seminary professors, that until the Council of Trent, provincial councils decided even the appointment of the bishops in communion with the pope.
Well has Charles Sumner said:—
“The words that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed are sacred words, full of life-giving energy. Not simply national independence was here proclaimed, but also the primal rights of all mankind. Then and there appeared the angel of human liberation, speaking and acting at once with heaven-born strength, breaking bolts, unloosing bonds, and opening prison doors; always ranging on its mighty errand, wherever there are any, no matter of what country or race, who struggle for rights denied; now cheering Garibaldi at Naples, as it had cheered Washington in the snows of Valley Forge, and especially visiting all who are downtrodden, whispering that there is none so poor as to be without rights which every man is bound to respect, none so degraded as to be beneath its beneficent reach, none so lofty as to be above its restraining power; while before it despotism and oligarchy fall on their faces, like the image of Dagon, and the people everywhere begin to govern themselves.”
____ The Peril of the Republic of the United States of America, p. 11.3 (Percy Tilson Magan)
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey;…Romans:6:16
“So, we must be able to think, decide and act by ourselves,” he said.
At least 57 papers were presented at the March 21-23 program organized by the missiology department of St. Peter’s seminary in Bengaluru, formerly Bangalore.