No to Pontifical Secret at Synod urge media

Synod Pontifical Secret

A growing chorus within Catholic media is pressing Pope Francis not to shut down the Synod on Synodality under the veil of the Pontifical Secret.

Rather, they are urging him to open up the much-anticipated Synod on Synodality deliberations to the media.

The Catholic media professionals argue that given the global involvement in preparation for the 2021 – 2024 Synod, transparency and wider participation will better serve the Synod process and the Church.

They argue that ‘you had to be there’ enclosed group spiritual experiences are more subjective and tend not to be universal.

Their comments come in response to Pope Francis’ directive that he wishes the Synod to be a “prayerful dialogue” devoid of “political chatter.”

Media argue that “political chatter” and media scrutiny are helpful in the discernment process.

In 2021 Francis thanked media professionals for doing a necessary job for the good of the Church. He has repeatedly said that the Synod on Synodality is primarily about listening.

Speaking to reporters on his flight back from Mongolia, Pope Francis stressed that the Synod’s October discussions should be viewed as a “religious moment” rather than a “TV talk show.”

Amplifying his view, Francis says he is considering binding participants under the strictures of the “Pontifical Secret,” a moral and legal obligation of confidentiality.

The use of Pontifical secrecy, normally reserved for gravely important matters, has raised concerns among Catholic media professionals.

The Catholic media professionals warn that the Church’s three-year-long campaign encouraging congregational involvement and a more inclusive dialogue may render the Synod an inconsequential gathering if cloaked in such secrecy.

In The Pillar, JD Flynn cautioned that keeping the Synod proceedings confidential could “amplify anxiety” outside the synodal hall.

Cindy Wooden wanted to know if the media could trust the accuracy of the press releases.

After he made the announcement on the plane, Wooden pressed Francis asking if there could be an option for greater transparency with journalists.

Monica Doumit of The Catholic Weekly humorously commented, “The Pontifical Secret is something that everyone knows, except the Pope” and is “something you can tell only one person at a time.”

She is advocating for daily press conferences to verify leaks and preserve the Synod’s integrity.

Despite these external pressures, Paolo Ruffini, the head of Vatican communications, maintains that the sanctity of the Synod’s internal communications is “very important for the discernment process of the entire Church.”

He assured the Catholic media that regular press releases would be issued, and the final synthesis document would be made public in the 2024 New Zealand Spring.

As CathNews reported on Friday, events are already planned outside the Rome Synod hall and globally online.

New Zealand’s own Christina Reymer, an active member of Be the Change, plans to bring pink shoes adorned with pink ribbons to the Vatican, symbolising women’s hardships within the Church.

While the Synod may not be billed as a “power to the people” moment, it’s perceived as just that for many Catholics.



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