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Cdl. Gerald Lacroix speaking at the Vatican, October 11, 2023. Haynes/LifeSiteNews

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Leading officials behind the Synod on Synodality have refused to confirm that participants must commit to upholding Catholic teaching during the event’s discussions. 

Speaking to journalists on October 11, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, and Quebec’s Cardinal Gérald Lacroix provided an update on the latest events of the Synod on Synodality, all while maintaining the Vatican’s peculiar policy of silence regarding the event. 

READ: Synod on Synodality members ordered to observe perpetual secrecy about discussions

LifeSite questioned the pair about the role of synod members in upholding Catholic teaching, a question that was in part prompted by an intervention on Monday by the relator general of the synod, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, who attested that “in deep communion with His Father through the Holy Spirit, Jesus extended this communion to all the sinners. Are we ready to do the same?”

In particular, LifeSite asked whether, given how the Synod process has had listening and dialogue with Catholic and non-Catholics from the very beginning, there was some form of commitment that the Synod members had to make at the start of the process to adhere to Catholic teaching during their discussions.

Cardinal Lacroix – a member of the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops since 2018, the Vatican body that fellow member Cardinal Joseph Tobin stated had been organizing the event since 2018 – refused to answer the question clearly. 

Instead, he reiterated oft-repeated talking points regarding the synod being a way “to learn to journey together and to listen, to discern together.”

Lacroix stated:

The object of the synod, as you know, is not to address doctrinal aspects but to look at our attitudes and way of discerning, to learn to journey together, and once we go home we can face all these issues. 

There have been synods on so many different themes. This is on journeying together, so even though we speak about our own experiences, in fact it is not a matter of addressing specific topics – not because they are not important, of course there are themes that are vey important and very topical – but what we want to do in this synod is to learn to journey together and to listen, to discern together. 

And the Holy Father has thought it fit to have this synod last not just a few months, but from 2021 – 2024. So next year we are going to make a comeback, and between the two general assemblies we are going to try and make sure that this way of living the Church may become rooted in our way of being. 

Continuing his statement, Lacroix argued that the Pope’s extension of the synod would enable the Church “to face the great issues having at our disposal more tools, so to speak.”

“Well of course we could exchange ideas, but not just our ideas are important, not just those of others are important,” he added. 

What is important is for these ideas to make the object of common discernment – even though we are speaking about very concrete realities – the exercise we do, the conversation in the spirit, the praying. all this prepares us so we mustn’t expect changes at doctrinal level. This is not a doctrinal synod. 

Lacroix next appeared to slightly undermine his previous arguments, however, stating that “of course there will be suggestions that will be proposed to the Holy Father, and he will discern how to continue.”

Ruffini did not answer the question, saying that he could add nothing to Lacroix’s response.

Since its very inception, the Synod on Synodality has been marked by a process of opening up the discussions to non-Catholics, as well as those who might identify as Catholic but no longer practice the faith.  

Pope Francis’ preparatory document and accompanying vademecum, issued in September 2021, stated that the synodal process of “listening” must include “Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith, etc.”

ANALYSIS: Vatican’s Synod on Synodality will consult non-Catholics, lapsed Catholics  

The documents demand that the “act of discerning” entails listening to “people who have left the practice of the faith, people of other faith traditions, people of no religious belief, etc.” [sic]

No one – no matter their religious affiliation – should be excluded from sharing their perspective and experiences, insofar as they want to help the Church on her synodal journey of seeking what is good and true,” read the text. [Emphasis original]

There are currently ecumenical non-voting participants of the synod daily attending the proceedings at the Vatican, since as Ruffini and numerous synod officials have repeatedly stated, ecumenism is “essential” for synodality.