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Fr Ormond Rush speaks during a working session of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall yesterday (CNS/Lola Gomez)

Vatican II’s discussion of tradition is the authority for the Synod on Synodality’s reflections today, Australian theologian Fr Ormond Rush told Synod members as the assembly’s final week opened yesterday. Source: CNA. 

“Having listened to you over these past three weeks, I have had the impression that some of you are struggling with the notion of tradition, in the light of your love of truth,” Fr Rush said.

Tradition “was a major point of discussion at the Second Vatican Council,” he added. “Their answers are, for us, the authority for guiding our reflections on the issues that confront us today.”

The Townsville priest said the October 4–29 assembly was the Synod members’ “discernment regarding the future of the Church.”

Fr Rush addressed the Synod members and Pope Francis yesterday before they began to review a draft of a document summarising their conversations over the past three weeks. The assembly will vote to approve the document on Saturday, shortly before it is expected to be publicly released.

Speaking about discernment, the theologian told Synod members they should strive to see with the eyes of Jesus. He also warned them of “traps” where they could be “drawn into ways of thinking that are not ‘of God.’”

“These traps could lie in being anchored exclusively in the past, or exclusively in the present, or not being open to the future fullness of divine truth to which the Spirit of truth is leading the Church,” he said. “Discerning the difference between opportunities and traps is the task of all the faithful – laity, bishops, and theologians – everyone.”

Fr Rush spoke about a tension during the Second Vatican Council related to two approaches to tradition. Pope Benedict XVI, then Fr Joseph Ratzinger, was a theological consultant at Vatican II. He wrote about “a ‘static’ understanding of tradition and a ‘dynamic’ understanding,” Fr Rush said.

“The former is legalistic, propositional, and ahistorical (i.e., relevant for all times and places); the latter is personalist, sacramental, and rooted in history, and therefore to be interpreted with a historical consciousness,” the theologian described. “The former tends to focus on the past, the latter on seeing the past being realised in the present, and yet open to a future yet to be revealed.”

Fr Rush, one of the Synod’s 62 “experts and facilitators,” called the Synod “a dialogue with God” and told members that in the final synthesis document, which they will review this week, “God is waiting” for their answer.


Theologian points to Vatican II’s ‘dynamic’ tradition in Synod on Synodality speech (By Courtney Mares, CNA)