ROME (LifeSiteNews) — An archbishop attending the Synod on Synodality said in an interview last week that any proposals coming from the synod that contradict the Gospel are not of the Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit. He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, and so He is only ever going to be saying things that are consistent with what Christ has revealed to us in the Apostolic Tradition,” he added.
Fisher, a member of the Dominican Order, also told the outlet that any proposal that is “radically at odds” with the Gospel and Apostolic Tradition cannot be of the Holy Spirit, explaining, “that’s not of the Holy Spirit, because we cannot have Christ and the Holy Spirit at war with each other.”
The archbishop further opined that Catholics credit the Holy Spirit with things He does not do. “We’ve got to be careful about blaming everything – all our opinions, our interests, lobbies, and factions – putting all that on the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“Catholics like to think that the Holy Spirit elects the pope, the Holy Spirit chooses our bishops and priests for us, the Holy Spirit does this and that,” the prelate continued. “And there’s no doubt that God’s hand, God’s providence, is there in all those important things in our lives and in the life of the Church. But we’ve also had some terrible popes in history. We’ve had some awful priests and bishops and awful things happen in people’s lives. And was the Holy Spirit absent? No, but he permitted those things to happen.”
Fisher also stated that to credit the Holy Spirit with everything happening at the synod or “anywhere else in our lives” would be “superstitious.”
Fisher further noted that the Church has already provided all that is necessary for salvation in the form of the Gospel and the Church’s teachings, handed on from one generation to the next, with the challenge facing the synod being one of discerning what God is calling the Church to do at the present time.
“We already have a whole body of teaching, of reflection, by thousands and thousands of people down through the generations, guided by the Holy Spirit on all sorts of questions there to help us, the Deposit of Faith, as we call it, it’s there to be mined.”
Women’s ordination to the diaconate discussed at the synod
Discussing events at the synod, Fisher acknowledged that there was a “long discussion” about female ordination and that “there’s a lot of tension and emotion around an issue like that.” He also said that he is unsure about what synodal participants think about the matter.
Speaking about the reports from each of the 35 tables in they synodal hall, Fisher said that “you don’t know whether that report is reporting what one person said or what all 12 people that table [said].” “So you don’t know if that’s the enthusiasm of one or two people at each table or an enthusiasm that’s really held by nearly the whole room,” he added.
He also opined that the synod could be an opportunity to discuss “more urgent” topics, such as the loss of faith among youth, compared to which he says the discussion on women’s ordination is “trivial.” Speaking further on this loss of faith, Fisher noted that people who lose their faith look for “meaning” in “a lot of very destructive places.”
“For their sake, we’ve got to be much more active in evangelizing our culture and especially our young adults,” said the archbishop.
“What I’d love to come out of the synod would be an enthusiasm for bringing the faith back to people that should have it and for whatever reason are disconnected.”
The nature of the synod itself
Fisher also addressed the nature of the Synod on Synodality itself.
Comparing the nature of the Synod on Synodality to that of other synods he has attended, Fisher said that the synod is “quite different,” describing the synodal process as “an experiment.” Looking to the Synod of Bishops as established by St. Paul VI in the aftermath of Vatican II, Fisher said that synods were “intended to be an expression of episcopal collegiality of the college of bishops together… like the group of the apostles together … and in particular their magisterium, their teaching together.”
The Synod on Synodality, however, appears to Fisher more a “hybrid” between a Synod of Bishops and other types of ecclesial gathering. “It’s both being a Synod of Bishops and being an ecclesial gathering all in one. And there are questions that it raises.”
“So what is its ecclesial nature? What is its authority?” Fisher asked rhetorically. “Is it trying to be the bishops, like the gathering of the apostles? Or is it trying to be the gathering of all the baptized?”
Pope Francis oversaw the initiation of the Synod on Synodality early this month and said in his address to the participants that the Holy Spirit was the “protagonist” of the synod, a view shared by synod relator general Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich. Hollerich also mentioned the Holy Spirit in his remarks to participants, claiming “But let us not forget that we have two years because the Holy Spirit needs time, because of our hearts which resist,” the synod having been announced in October 2021.
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, former head of the Apostolic Signatura, observed a day before the beginning of the synod that “there is not a single word about the obedience due to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit that are always consistent with the truth of the perennial doctrine and the goodness of the perennial discipline that He has inspired throughout the centuries.”
“It is unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the side of some has for its purpose the advancement of an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine,” Burke warned.
Meanwhile, Bishop Rob Mutsaerts, auxiliary bishop of Den Bosch in the Netherlands who quit the synodal process last year, attacked the ambiguity surrounding the synod regarding the inclusion of the LGBT agenda and said that what is happening at the synod, contrary to what its organizers claim, is “about theology and doctrine.”
At least one member of the synod – Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, Germany – has voiced a call for the abandonment of Apostolic Tradition.