How “Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation”s Came to Be

From the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same File:

PAUL VI AND CARDINAL WOJTYLA CONVERSE AT VATICAN“…the duty of confirming the brethren…seems to us all the more noble and necessary…after the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops…and we do so all the more willingly because it has been asked of us by the Synod Fathers themselves. In fact, at the end of that memorable Assembly, the Fathers decided to remit to the Pastor of the universal Church, with great trust and simplicity, the fruits of all their labors, stating that they awaited from him a fresh forward impulse… “ –Pope Paul VI, post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, paragraph 2 (1975).

Thus, the illustrious genre of papal post-synodal Apostolic Exhortations began.

Here’s how Peter Hebblethwaite, Paul VI’s biographer, summarizes what had happened in 1974:

“A new actor had entered the scene, whose importance was not recognized at the time. Frustrated in his desire to have a Synod on marriage, he was named Relator of the Synod on Evangelization…The Relator’s approach prevailed in the final document, with the effect that the Synod rejected it. The result was impasse. But not tragic…

“Everything was simply dumped in the papal lap, and Paul was invited to sort it all out. But since ‘informing the pope’ was one of the functions of the Synod, one could not say that collegiality had failed: better honest confusion than papering over the cracks. To the pope fell the task of synthesis.” –Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, pp. 626-27

And who was the ‘new actor,’ whose final document the Synod rejected, thus giving rise to the need for the pope to write an Apostolic Exhortation? Karol Cardinal Wojtyla.

Collegiality, a fancy word for trying to work together, began while the Lord Himself still walked the earth. And, as the Lord taught us, collegiality is only possible when—only possible; no collegiality, no co-ordination without: one loving father, who reigns supreme, who bears the burden of sorting everything out, and who demands obedience to what he decides.

Holy Father Francis called the synod of 2015, and Holy Father Francis will tell us what it means, when the time is right for us to know what it means.

In the meantime, much better to pray than to agitate oneself. The Church most certainly has been through all this before.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s