Pope Francis’ latest move to gather information regarding the status of the Church has been labeled “The Synodal Way”. As part of this directive from the Vatican, dioceses across the globe have been commissioned to canvas members of the Church to get a “pulse” of what concerns Catholics. Parishioners were invited to answer a series of questions:
- “What is the Holy Spirit saying to our Church today?”
- “What should we do to improve our parish?”
- “A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, ‘journeys together.’ How is this ‘journeying together’ happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘journeying together’?”
The Diocese of Gaylord has put forth its bureaucratic efforts for this cause by producing a ” Diocesan Synthesis Report for the Synod 2021-2023″. It can be accessed in full here.
This report reviews the responses received from answers to the questions above from a variety of unnamed sources in the Diocese. In order to show the volume of the responses, the document, at its beginning, proclaimed that “When the responses, both individual and from parishes/clusters, were extracted from the Google form and exported into a Word document, there were approximately 60 pages, single spaced at 10-point font…” .
The report states that it enlisted the the assistance of 40 individuals across the Diocese for this effort. A useful question that arises is this: Could 40 individuals be better utilized for other efforts in the Diocese, such as outreach to fallen away Catholics or learning basic Catholic Church teaching, ie, two of the concerns brought up by the document? How much did this process cost?
A surprising finding in the report is the following: “In addition, it must be acknowledged that there is a highly vocal opposition group within the diocese, as well as certain external groups who regularly voice criticisms as well.” This is news to Gaylord Diocesan Watch. We invite our readers, and anyone else, to let us know who this “opposition group” is. Could this “opposition group” be a group of clergy who oppose Church teaching? Could the “opposition group” be some lay Catholics who want some type of doctrinal or other change in the Diocese? We have not been apprised of any formal groups opposing the work of the Diocese. With regard to “external groups”, who are they? Gaylord Diocesan Watch would certainly like to know the identity of these groups so that we can appropriately educate our readers on these groups and offer appropriate opposition to them.
The document lists other generalities and is void of details, but concerns listed in the report include the following:
- “confusion about what the Church actually believes and teaches”
- “the perception that the Catholic Church is merely a collection of rules which are rigidly enforced”
- “aging population”
- “there is a great deal of work to be done in making our parishes more welcoming environments.”
- “very real lack of community within our parishes”
Another concern listed is “about the lack of communication both within the parish and throughout the diocese”. This has recently been highlighted in the refusal of Bishop Walsh to meet with members of Gaylord Diocesan Watch.
As if to give a nod to the degrading culture around us: “Another theme which came up consistently was the divorced and remarried, LGBTQ, and young people. In all three of those cases, there was a clear sense of non-belonging, of being judged and a lack of compassion and/or understanding.” What about judging the sin and not the soul of the sinner? What about educating the divorced, the LGBTQRS etc. about what is healthy living for the soul in accord with what the Church teaches? How about teaching the hard and difficult road to sanctity? What about the most important teacher available to anyone, young or old – setting a holy example?
The document then reviews another irony: “A key theme related to building community is the need for the clergy to get to know their people and to reach out…” and later: “Transparency and communication are often cited as the best means to rebuild trust.” Maybe this could be an inspiration for Bishop Walsh to get to know Gaylord Diocesan Watch, whose mission is to support and assist the Bishop and clergy of the Diocese in meeting their obligations as shepherds of the flock.
Whether this process leads to a better Diocese remains to be seen. We must continue to pray for our clergy and the Diocese of Gaylord. Gaylord Diocesan Watch will continue to monitor this situation for the sole purpose of improving the Diocese of Gaylord.