Is synodality just another word for collegiality? / National Catholic Reporter

But synodality goes beyond collegiality as a practical vision for the church. The instrumentum laboris (“working paper”) prepared for the synod delegates describes synodality not as a theory but as “a readiness to enter into a dynamic of constructive, respectful and prayerful speaking, listening and dialogue.”

By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

“In October, the Catholic Church is going to have an international meeting in Rome on the topic of synodality. This is an unfamiliar term to most Catholics, except those of Eastern traditions, whose bishops regularly come together in synods to govern the church. In the Western church, we call such meetings ‘councils,’ not synods.

“What then is synodality?

“My own unsophisticated understanding is that it is another word for “collegiality,” a term that became popular after the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. 

“At the council, bishops became conscious of their collegial responsibility with the pope for the governance of the church. It was wrong, they realized, to view the church as an absolute monarchy with bishops as vassals of the pope. The college of bishops, as successors of the apostles, has an important role to play.

“After the council, the term “collegial” became an adjective describing a new style of church leadership that envisioned consulting the laity on important issues facing the church. It was applied to not only bishops and their conferences, but dioceses and parishes.

“This widespread use of collegiality soon came under attack from the Vatican, with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) leading the charge. He insisted that collegiality in the strict sense applied only to the college of bishops under the pope. He made distinctions between ‘affective’ and ‘effective’ collegiality — the former saw bishops’ meetings as little more than mutual support; the latter considered them authoritative.”

By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …