San Diego Synod delegates told to ‘think big’

Bishop Robert McElroy organizing the only diocesan synod in the country in response to Amoris Laetitia
McElroy: 'to live by exclusion is a corrupting method of living'

Bishop Robert McElroy

The following comes from a Southern Cross article by Aida Bustos:

SAN DIEGO — “Think big.”

That’s what Bishop Robert W. McElroy urged parish delegates to do leading up to the first general assembly in the diocese in 40 years.

This assembly, called a diocesan synod, will be held on Oct. 29 and 30. Its focus will be on how the San Diego Diocese and its individual parishes can strengthen marriage and families, give pastoral support to divorced Catholics and invite unmarried couples into the fold, all challenges faced by the Church.

The seed for the synod was planted by Pope Francis earlier this year. In his teaching document Amoris Laetitia (“Joy of Love”), the pope invited dioceses around the world to reflect on the state of families in their region and to find ways to strengthen them.

After consultations with the priestly leadership, deacons and lay leaders, Bishop McElroy announced in May that the Diocese of San Diego would hold a synod to do just that. In fact, it’s the only diocese in the country known to be holding one in response to the pope’s call.

The San Diego synod is being led by Father John Hurley, a nationally-known Catholic leader on fostering change at the diocesan level, and advised by theologians, including a former Vatican official who attended last year’s Synod of Bishops on family life convened by the pope.

Father Hurley encouraged the delegates to think “outside the box” and to develop goals that are relevant, achievable and measurable.

The five challenges are:
• Witnessing the beauty and realism of the Catholic vision of marriage and family life;
•Bringing spiritual depth to family life;
•Nurturing and forming children in the light of Catholic faith;
•Providing authentic pastoral support for those who are divorced;
• Forming a Church culture of invitation and hospitality to unmarried couples.

A theologian is an integral part of each meeting of the working groups. Bernadeane Carr, STL, director of the Diocesan Institute, was selected for the initial meeting on Aug. 20.

The other theologians are Msgr. Daniel Dillabough, vice president of Mission and Ministry, Dr. Emily Reimer-Barry, chair of Theology and Religious Studies, Sister Tobie Tondi, SHCJ, professor, all at the University of San Diego; Dr. Maureen Day, professor at the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside; and Father Michael Murphy from Sacred Heart Parish in Coronado.

At the general assembly, the theologian will be Msgr. John Strynkowski, who worked at the Vatican for eight years and served as executive director of Doctrine and Pastoral Practices for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He attended the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family in 2015 as the theological adviser for Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich.



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  1. Tony de New York says:

    Another ‘call to action’? It look like he is bringing back the seventies!

  2. Linda Maria says:

    What, exactly, does the Bishop mean, with his last goal, “Forming a Church culture of invitation and hospitality to unmarried couples”?? The Church is DISHONEST!! This synod is a big HORSE LAUGH!!

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      So you think it would be dishonest to be a Church that invites unmarried couples? Should the Church be even more inhospitable to unmarried couples? What is it exactly that would be dishonest? What are you laughing about?

      • Linda Maria says:

        The term, “unmarried couples” means those “shacking up,” Your Fellow Catholic! Along with the sin of fornication, there are probably sins of birth control and abortion! Couples who “shack up” need INSTRUCTION IN THEIR CATHOLIC FAITH AND MORALS!! YES, OUR CHURCH IS TOTALLY DISHONEST, NOT TO STATE THAT THE CHURCH WILL GIVE THEM PROPER INSTRUCTION, AND EXPECT ALL CATHOLICS TO LIVE BY CHRIST’S TEACHINGS– AND PROVIDE GUIDANCE FOR THEM TO DO SO!!

  3. So the rest of the hierarchy are turning a deaf ear to the Popes call.

  4. St. Christopher says:

    The last two bullets are the keys. The entirety of what Pope Francis is after (and his acolytes, like B. McElroy) is to accept sinful behavior, as long as it can point to some “made up relationship” that is somehow supposed to have some kind of enduring value. Philosophers and theologians are asking how long must such a “relationship” last before is sexual sinfulness is now understand as pleasing to God, something worthy of praise and blessings? Come on People, see how vile this all is? And, it all, all, comes down to sex. Nothing to be gained by chastity to these folks, or shame, either. What a complete disaster.

  5. What inference are we draw from the presence at this “shadow synod” of a theologian (Msgr. John Strynkowski) who advised Archbishop Cupich? It is important to keep in mind that Cupich’s views on Amoris Laetitia are diametrically opposed to those of Archbishop Chaput, on a document whose implications range (by design of its redactors) *well* beyond Communion for the remarried. At stake is a subjectivist view of conscience, affirmed by Cupich, that has dramatic consequences for unraveling Catholic morality. Not to mention implications for sacramental theology, and ecclesiology. Most Catholics in the pews have no sense of what is at stake here.

    • david drewelow says:

      thomistica, i think that there might be possible hope for good things from msgr strynkowski’s attachment to the synod. Msgr S was once known for quiet, strong loyalty to the magisterium. i have not heard his name in many years, but i think there is strong reason to believe that he stands with tradition .

  6. Steve Phoenix says:

    Having participated in past diocesan synods, be advised to review “The Delphi Method”, which liberal “Catholic” progressives have successfully operated for years.

    Originally developed in the 1940’s for a legitimate purpose to obtain consensus from large groups of tech experts about a project, it was successfully twisted as far back as the 1970’s to ratify an already pre-ordained outcome.

    The way it works is that attendees to a synod are broken into small groups, and a moderator/secretary is assigned to each. All the participants are asked to give their input, which is actually dutifully recorded (and the moderator as well notes who, esp. if it is an incorrect view to assert). Then summaries of the information are…

    • Steve Phoenix says:

      ..brought forward to a plenary session. The moderator will review with the full group the “input”, and then all input will be purportedly forwarded to a secretariat group (call it “the Concilium”) who will orchestrate a “final report” and position paper on each topic. This is always reviewed carefully by the actual puppetmasters before the final report is made public.

      Mysteriously, divergent viewpoints are eliminated for various “good reasons”, or reduced to the status of annoying “squawkers”, and the predictable “Delphic” outcome which was always pre-ordained will come forward.

      Additionally, supposedly representative “delegates” are all carefully selected, others de-selected, to secure a certain outcome…

      • Steve Phoenix says:

        ..(people who, tho not progressives, who are “get-alongers” and worried about being loved and accepted by the episcopal establishment are always welcome).

        The final report will be employed as “consensus” supporting the established episcopal position (be it “global-warming-as-established-fact, new marriage understandings, wealth-redistribution and mandatory-higher-taxes, married clergy).

        The whole outcome was long decided before the synod ever was called: the Delphi method.

        • Linda Maria says:

          Sounds a lot like the same methods used, to engineer cooperation with the Vatican’s agenda, amongst the prelates attending the Second Vatican Council! Of course– they all were used to being MANIPULATED, and ORDERED what to do! That is the way, for centuries, that our Church has operated (sometimes for very necessary good reasons, and sometimes not good at all– for a good reason, it would be something like, excommunicating someone for killing an unborn child— etc.)!! Bless you, Steve Phoenix, for your detailed explanation of the DECEPTIVE, MANIPULATIVE “Delphi Method!”

    • The “Delphi Method” isn’t what it once was. Facilitators of group discussions have adapted its general design as a way to find consensus from among many ideas and thoughts, but it is not “evil” as you seem to imply. I have used the method and its variations in business management training and strategy planning sessions for decades. It is simply one of many techniques for making thoughts visible to large groups of people, and get them involved. Secondly, what is so bad about a Bishop gathering a group of parish representatives to discuss these issues?

      • Linda Maria says:

        Well, Bob One– the Bishop’s JOB is to TEACH Catholic Faith and Morals to all, and to encourage all to practice their Catholicism correctly and well! Our Church, in the past, has been VERY GOOD at teaching and preaching the Catechism! We need NO GIMMICKS!! What is the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony? The Bishop should start there! He also ought to create youth groups that pray the Rosary and go to Adoration regularly, study the Catechism, and participate in charity projects– and receive instruction in Christian dating and courtship– and MAKE CHASTITY PLEDGES!!

  7. exhortation correction: ‘believe deeply’. since the left has been ‘out of the box’ for so long, to ;think outside the box’ really means to return to the tradition, to dogma and to the correct inspired interpretation of scripture. ‘outside the box’ is rendered , roughly, as ‘ex ecclesia’. don’t forget, the first invitation to ‘think outside the box’ came from a cunning serpent who had no great interest in seeing our original parents remaining in their cozy nest of eden.

  8. “Forming a Church culture of invitation and hospitality to unmarried couples” This answer to this one is very simple: If the unmarried couples are free to marry in the Church then they should be encouraged to get married and stop the sin of fornication. If they are not free to marry then they should be encouraged to separate (unless they already have children and then they may live as brother and sister). The fact that Msgr. John Strynkowski served as a theological adviser for Chicago’s Archbishop Cupich makes the Msgr. highly suspect. Just remember that the Bishop of San Diego wants to soften the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church so as not to offend the LGBT folks.

  9. Tom Barbarie says:

    Relax, everyone: no one will pay any attention to what issues forth from this irrelevant assembly.

    • Little fish in a little pond who think they’re doing something important. Time would be better spent reading the Bible. As someone posted, this synod will probably implement the Delphi Method. Why does the bishop need a synod to decide on pastoral applications? Why doesn’t he just write a pastoral letter telling the diocese what he wants done?

      Did McElroy hold a synod to decide what to do about the death penalty? About how to vote? No: he just made up his mind and told people what he thinks. Why the need for a synod in this matter?

      I think he’s just trying to impress Pope Francis, who will definitely hear that his liberal pick for bishop is the only one holding a synod about AL.

    • Furthermore, how about a diocesan synod on Summorum Pontificum? Why not “think outside the box” about how to make the Extraordinary Form more widespread in San Diego? Why are the diocese’s and the bishop’s priorities driven so much by what is recent and faddish (and dubious) instead of what is perennial?

      He’s just trying to impress the Pope; maybe he’s vying for a red hat or a curial appointment.

      • Linda Maria says:

        One does not need to “think outside the box,” on a subject we already know well– Catholic Marriage and Family! That’s silly! I wonder what Catholic missionary priests used to do, when converting peoples of foreign nations, who led lives very contrary to Christian teaching? How did they get them to understand Catholicism, and follow it?? How did St. Patrick convert pagan Ireland? I am sure it wasn’t easy– but he did it, by the grace of God!

  10. Before the San Diego Diocesan Synod even takes place I am afraid that it will just be a waste of time, talent, and treasure (these donated by the gullible laity of the Diocese). The local Ordinary – McElroy has been influenced by George Soros and now he is trying to sell his extremely liberal ideas to his flock. I for one will have nothing to do with liberal Francis or McElroy. I am seriously considering moving from San Diego to another Diocese as I have no respect for McElroy!

    • St. Christopher says:

      Come on out to Arlington, VA. We will soon have a new bishop, Bishop Burbidge, ex-Raleigh, NC bishop, and an apparent friend to Catholic Tradition. I think someone at the Vatican made a mistake, and Cardinal Wuerl particularly, for letting Bishop Burbidge be appointed here. Retiree B. Loverde was no friend of the TLM, although he was very political and tolerated the growth of the TLM given the insistence of the young clergy here to say it. We will see what Bishop Burbidge brings, but it will likely be a greater improvement. OR, you can relocate to SF and attend Star of the Sea Parish — great place.

  11. A lot of comments here that suggest that a Synod is not needed, a weekend of discussion and planning. Yet, most comments make some good to great suggestions for how to approach the issues of the Synod. Yet, those suggestions will not be heard because, those with suggestions, think the Synod is a waste of time and should not be held. We don’t need to hear people’s suggestions, but here are “mine.” The “negative” comments only prove the need for the Synod.

  12. Dave Lyons says:

    All these negative comments from such pious Catholics about Bishop McElroy’s attempts to lead instead of to just dictate make me wonder just how Catholic these people really are?
    Instead of casting doubt and discouraging discourse, why aren’t you praying that the Holy Spirit will influence this group’s thinking and planning, and that a positive reaffirmation of true Church teaching will result from the discussion?
    Who’s to say that this approach isn’t Our Lord’s Will for this Diocese? Why is there always 2nd guessing and doubt cast whenever someone thinks that they know more than Christ?

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