Synodality and Ecclesial Bunkers

Within community life, we have been injured by the bullets of persons’ tongues, writings, or inactions. Perhaps, a parish priest has failed to visit during an illness; parishioners have exercised inhospitality at Mass; gossiping tongues have exposed my inner world; or hierarchical infighting plots against upward mobility. 

When we are emotionally injured, sometimes the human tendency is to declare war to protect ourselves from dreaded occurrences. We construct emotional bunkers, encircle ourselves with social barbed-wire fences, acquire the lethal silent treatment weapon, aggressively recruit an army of supporters, and/or begin verbal attacks on our enemies from our bunkers. Warfare is the response to our traumas. 

As fear hardens, it expands and becomes less of a protective barrier and more of a solidifying division. It forces its way down in the gaps and tears apart our social foundation. . . (Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness).

On the synodal journey, the People of God face ecclesial bunkers – bishops (hiding in bunkers) against bishops, priests against bishops, priests against priests, parishioners against priests, or conservative Catholics against liberal Catholics. The result is a Church unable to effectively exercise its missionary mandate. “. . . Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25).

Is there a way to build bridges of reconnection? The answer lies in the words of Christianna Paul, a youth of the Diocese of Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica, as she shared about her experience of the synodal journey during the Antilles Episcopal Conference Annual Plenary Meeting in 2022.  She said, “I feel like there was more that could have been said.  And so I think this should be a continuous journey . . . It’s not a duty we’re fulfilling. [We] were building a relationship . . . so I hope that the consultations. . .  and those safe spaces for people to talk about prevalent topics continue. . .”

It’s a clarion call for a brave and courageous willingness to be vulnerable; to exit our bunkers with a peace flag and begin to engage in the tough and uncomfortable conversations with our perceived enemies. For as long as we remain in our bunkers, we die of loneliness and disconnection (Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness). 

On this synodal journey, how can we emerge from these bunkers of Church life?

One thought on “Synodality and Ecclesial Bunkers

  1. I am not an intellectual. Right now I don’t know who or what I am so my response may be stupid but I just feel to hug you tightly and tell you everything will be alright. 🙏🏼❤️


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