On April 12, 2023, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops jointly issued their Synodal Document: On North American Final Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.
Like the other Synodal documents we have seen, the North American “Final Document” emphasizes “listening” as a way to discern that the “spirit” is leading so-called Catholics to embrace various anti-Catholic ideas and unrepentant sinners. As bad as this is, it is the Final Document’s identification of believers not as Catholics, but as those who possess the “baptismal dignity” common to all Christians, that makes it abundantly clear that the North American bishops responsible for the document are part of a “Synodal Church” that can no longer be considered Catholic.
Once one accepts this erroneous belief that all Christians are essentially the same by virtue of their baptism, then it is no stretch to argue that women should be ordained, LGTBQ rights should be respected, and the divorced and remarried should receive Communion.
The Final Document uses the precise term “baptismal dignity” eleven times in its fifty-seven substantive paragraphs:
“Our baptismal dignity is inseparable from our baptismal responsibility, which sends us forth on mission.” (Paragraph 13)
“In the Continental Stage in North America, the joy of the participants was based in large part on their baptismal dignity being acknowledged through the synodal path.” (Paragraph 15)
“Our personal call to holiness arises from our baptismal dignity.” (Paragraph 16)
“An emphasis on our shared baptismal dignity allows us to see in each other a co-laborer who can be formed, equipped, and encouraged for mission.” (Paragraph 17)
“Central in the discernment of these questions is the faithful acknowledgment of women’s baptismal dignity.” (Paragraph 19)
“Empowering young people to more fully live out their baptismal dignity requires that we confront tensions within our communion as the Body of Christ.” (Paragraph 20)
“The People of God participating in the Continental Stage in North America expressed a great longing for formation as the key to living out both their baptismal dignity and their duty in a co-responsible Church.” (Paragraph 21)
It might have been easier and cleaner if the North American bishops had simply gone the path of the German bishops in their schism. But one has to marvel at the audacity of these North American bishops in attempting to subtly redefine the entire religion without even suggesting that there ought to be a debate on the subject.
“Delegates were insistent that deeper formation is central to our ability to live out our baptismal dignity and strengthen communion with Christ and each other.” (Paragraph 22)
“There was a recognition that we cannot fully live out our baptismal dignity and responsibility without addressing the areas where our communion with one another, and thereby our communion with Christ, is stressed almost to the breaking point.” (Paragraph 24)
“While the reasons for experiencing the Church as inhospitable may vary, what is common is the Church’s need to authentically honor the baptismal dignity of everyone.” (Paragraph 26)
“It was recognized that for the Church to be truly missionary – to go out to the peripheries and to evangelize – what is needed is holistic formation in our baptismal dignity and calling, in co-responsibility, and in synodality.” (Paragraph 33)
As the Final Document makes clear in Paragraph 14, the “baptismal dignity” applies to all Christians:
“Through baptism, Christians share in an exalted dignity and vocation to holiness, with no inequality based on race, nationality, social condition, or sex, because we are one in Christ Jesus (Lumen Gentium 32; cf. Gal 3:28, Col 3:11).” (Paragraph 14)
And if we had any doubt about the matter, we could simply refer to the Working Document for the Continental Stage, which unambiguously states that all Christians share the “baptismal dignity”:
“Many local Churches within contexts that see the presence of numerous Christian denominations place particular stress on the baptismal dignity of all Christian sisters and brothers, and the common mission in service of the Gospel. A synodal process is incomplete without meeting brothers and sisters from other confessions, sharing and dialogue with them, and engaging in common actions.” (Paragraph 2.2)
Because the references to “baptismal dignity” relate to all Christians, rather than only Catholics, we must interpret each of the statements from the Final Document above as applying to both Catholics and Protestants. There is no other reasonable interpretation. As such, the North American bishops responsible for this document have abandoned all distinctions amongst Christians based on creeds and professed affiliations.
These bishops have made it clear that they are no longer Catholic. May God have mercy on them; and may no faithful Catholic ever feel compelled to listen to another word they say.
Once one accepts this erroneous belief that all Christians are essentially the same by virtue of their baptism, then it is no stretch to argue that women should be ordained, LGTBQ rights should be respected, and the divorced and remarried should receive Communion. And, indeed, this Final Document advances all of these positions.
It might have been easier and cleaner if the North American bishops had simply gone the path of the German bishops in their schism. But one has to marvel at the audacity of these North American bishops in attempting to subtly redefine the entire religion without even suggesting that there ought to be a debate on the subject. Few readers will notice or care, but these bishops have made it clear that they are no longer Catholic. May God have mercy on them; and may no faithful Catholic ever feel compelled to listen to another word they say. Immaculate Heart of Mary for us!
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