We say that the Great Schism of 1054 left the Church with a wound that has never healed. But what do we mean by that? If we mean that the Orthodox simply fell into schism, then it’s the schismatic that is wounded, not the Church. Likewise, if they mean that Catholics simply fell into heresy, then it’s the heretic that is wounded, not the Church.
If the Church herself is wounded, then the Orthodox must have taken something that we Catholics need, and we Catholics must have taken something that our Orthodox brothers need. The Church can only be made whole if the two parts are brought back together again. We need each other, not only in a sort of mystical way but in a very practical sense, too. We need their emphasis on Tradition, and they need our emphasis on Authority.
In that sense, Pope Francis’ emphasis on “synodality” may be a blessing in disguise. Of course, as many people have already pointed out, Francis himself is very much an ultramontanist. He looks to Rome (i.e., career Vatican bureaucrats) for leadership. But while we may chuckle at this little irony, we should think carefully before condemning the principle of synodality itself.
Needless to say, this has nothing to do with the scripted curial subcommittees that pass for synods today. Think, rather, of the synods held by the Early Church, where bishops came from every corner of Creation to strive and argue and praise and condemn, giving a real voice to the sensus fidelium.
[Read the rest at Crisis Magazine.]