Conspiracy Theory

Pope Francis presides at a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In a highly significant intervention at the synod on the family on Oct. 6, Pope Francis warned the synod fathers against giving in to “the hermeneutic of conspiracy”—what in English might be called “the conspiracy theory”—which, he said, “is sociologically weak and spiritually unhelpful.” He asked them instead to engage in “a profound discernment to seek to understand what the Lord wants of his church.” The pope’s comments take on particular significance in the light of some of the serious challenges that he is facing at this synod. Among them are the allegation that the synod under his leadership is somehow putting at risk the church’s traditional teaching on marriage and the family and the allegation that the synod’s new methodology, which he approved, is more favorable to those who want greater openness in the church’s pastoral approach in this whole area.

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