Pope Francis had adopted the dream of Jesus of Nazareth. The 2023 Synod would show whether bishops were willing to cooperate in the removal of all obstacles. Thus, in the end, charity, care and justice would triumph over greed, deceit and lust for power.
However, with bishops in the majority continuing to avoid the desired changes, the time is ripe for Plan B, the synodal path without bishops.
Papal writings have repeatedly called for understanding of the idea of an inverted Pyramid. In such an inverted Pyramid, the most valuable advice comes not from authority at the top but from the full breadth of the constituency. The faithful themselves find a charitable way in conflicts of conscience preferably by listening to others in a small community.
German bishops wrote some weeks ago that the future church will take place in small communities in which the laity play a leading role. In Africa there are already 180,000 small communities of faith without priests; worldwide there may be half a million. The exchange of structural dictatorship for an open network of good Samaritans and small communities takes on added luster when working out a proposal from Austria. That proposal does not appeal to bishops but to you, me and other believers. It involves the recognition, affirmation and encouragement of the already existing practice of each small community of believers electing a qualified woman or man as pastor, servant, inspirer, coach or guide. It would be the realization of a dream if small communities accompanied by such a guide along the synodal path began to listen to each other and to people who need help in thorny situations such as
unwanted pregnancy, life-threatening childbirth,
domestic violence, end-of-life wishes,
alcoholism, drug abuse, sudden crippling
unruly children, overtiredness,
persistent stress, mounting debt,
distrust, prolonged bed rest,
administrative muddle and housing shortage
Then it can be left to small communities to create a network to take over from the Church.
Three questions arise
- Are there any thorny situations that have not been mentioned?
- If you believe in the Creator and in the dream of Jesus, what difference does it make whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Hindu or Muslim?
- Under what conditions would you be interested in a small community?