Many of my parishioners have asked me what is happening in Rome with the “Synod for Synodality.” CNN, Reuters, and Fox all report that the Catholic Church is changing its 2000-year-old teachings on human sexuality, among other things. Well, what’s happening at the Synod, as best as I can see it, is "Marxism." A few people are consolidating power to themselves, in the name of "listening to the people." But the Church is not about power. It's about love—loving trust in God's Word—and that's why applying the Marxist dynamic of power to Church governance is not a good idea.
How does ideological Marxism work in practice? We have plenty of examples over the last 100 years: Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping, and Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Each of these men consolidated power to themselves by claiming to give power to the people. The Soviet politburo renamed Russia, and its conquered lands, as “Republics” (the word literally means “a thing of the people”). Mao renamed China the “People’s Republic” (which is redundant!). Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez insisted that they were giving power to the proletariat by forcing their countries into dictatorships. But, as the historical record demonstrates, the people didn’t get the power. The state got the power, and the people got the poverty.
What’s happening at the Synod for Synodality, as best I can make it out, is that a relatively few people are consolidating power by claiming to listen to the people. A years-long “listening process,” however, has received responses from less than 1% of the world’s Catholics, and most Catholics I know either don’t care what the Vatican is doing or disagree with its pronouncements. Perhaps most of the Church’s middle management genuinely believes the Synod is following the Holy Spirit, but we would be naïve not to see the well-worn Marxist dynamic at work here.
At the end of the novel 1984, written by George Orwell in 1948 as he saw where the Soviet Union was headed, Winston Smith is told by his higher-ups that his precious “Ministry of Truth” is not about truth at all. It’s simply about power, the power of the State. By then, of course, it’s too late for Winston Smith. Is it too late for the Catholic Church?
I don’t think so, not least because the Lord promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against her. But even on a sociological level, older and wiser heads will prevail in the end. As my father and my communism teacher said, reality has a way of coming to the surface every time. The reality is that Jesus Christ is Lord, and He will provide for His bride, the Church.