In a long email “conversation” with a friend last week, he expressed his enthusiasm for Pope Francis and his recent trip to Canada. “The spirit of Peter the first pope is alive and working in Pope Francis” he said.

We correspond just about every week and I replied that I appreciated the pope’s going to Canada but that his apology to Indigenous peoples didn’t go far enough. Reconciliation, I said, is still very much a work in progress. Francis apologized for the “evil” of church personnel who worked in the schools. He did not acknowledge the Catholic Church’s papal and institutional support for the human denigration and misery created by the 15th century “Doctrine of Discovery.” In fact, just before a papal Mass at the Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupré on July 28 in Quebec, a large banner with the words “Rescind the Doctrine”was unrolled in front of the altar.

The Doctrine of Discovery was launched by Pope Alexander VI (1431 – 1503) in 1493. This new papal teaching stressed that lands not inhabited by Christians were available to be “discovered” and exploited and that “the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, so that the health of souls be cared for and barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.” It played a central role in the Spanish conquest of the New World and supported Spain’s exclusive right to the lands discovered by Christopher Columbus (1451  – 1506) the previous year. 

The Doctrine of Discovery soon became the basis for all European claims in the Americas. Called “the principle of discovery,” it became as well as the foundation for the United States’ western expansion. As U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall (1755 – 1835) declared in the 1823 Supreme Court case Johnson v. McIntosh,“the principle of discovery” had given the “discovering” nations an absolute right to their New World lands. In essence, John Marshall was saying that U.S. American “Indians” had only a right of occupancy, which if need be could be abolished. 

Pope Alexander’s Doctrine of Discovery made headlines again throughout the 1990s and in 2000, when many Catholics petitioned Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) to formally revoke it and recognize the human rights of indigenous “non-Christian peoples.”

Alexander VI, of course, was quite a character. Born Rodrigo de Borja, in the prominent Borgia family, Alexander was one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes. He had manny mistresses and fathered several children with them. One of his sons, Cesare Borgia (1475 – 1507), when only seventeen, was made Archbishop of Valencia. The Florentine Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452 – 1498) strongly and regularly criticized Pope Alexander. In 1498 the annoyed and angry Alexander had Savonarola arrested, tortured, hanged, and burned.

I wrote to my friend that Pope Francis really needs to renounce, repudiate, and revoke the Doctrine of Discovery. For centuries, this doctrine has justified the seizure and dispossession of Indigenous territories and nations all over the world. And I added, “And an important clarification: the Apostle Peter was not the first pope and he was never a bishop of Rome.” 

My friend replied with a smiley and said “You really have become anti-pope as well as anti-Catholic.” I replied with my own smiley that I am neither anti-Catholic nor anti-pope. I stressed that Roman Catholic institutional leaders have to be knowledgeable and must be truthful about the church’s history. Some archaic papal teachings should simply be abandoned.

For my friend’s summer reading, I recommended the 2020 edition of Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes by Eamon Duffy, Irish historian and professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Cambridge and a former president of Magdalene College. It is an excellent papal history.

Along with most contemporary historical theologians, Eamon Duffy stresses that, although a number of pious legends about Peter were accepted and passed on by people like Ambrose of Milan (c. 339 – c. 397) and Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430), many early stories about Peter are simply religious fantasies. They are not historic facts. They are pious legends. Peter’s being crucified upside down, for example, and his being the “first pope.”

Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Christian community at Rome. There were Christians in the city long before either Peter or Paul arrived there. And, as Eamon Duffy and many other well respected Catholic scholars like John P. Meier (b. 1942) and Raymond Brown (1928 – 1998) stress, there was no single bishop in Rome until many decades after the deaths of Peter (c. 68) and Paul (c. 65)..

To be clear, the papacy was not established by the historical Jesus. Bishops weren’t either. The papacy was a later Christian development. In Rome, when Peter was alive, there was no pope, no bishop as such, because the Christian community in Rome was slow to develop the office of a chief presbyter, or bishop. The early treatise The Shepherd of Hernias, written in Rome in the second century, speaks always collectively about the leaders of the community, or about the elders who presided over the community. The author makes no attempt to distinguish between bishops and elders. 

In the fourth century, however, many believed that Peter’s tomb was located on the Vatican hill where he had been executed and where Constantine (c. 272 – 337) ordered the construction of a basilica (Old St. Peter’s Basilica) on the site of today’s St. Peter’s Basilica. Supposedly, Peter’s bone fragments and remnants of a burial shrine were discovered under the current St. Peter’s Basilica in excavations started in 1939. In 1965, Pope Paul VI declared that they were indeed the relics of Peter. Unfortunately, controversy still surrounds the methods and some of the findings of the excavations. Historically it is not clear that the shrine in fact marked the grave of Peter and the fragments of bone discovered were not in the central niche of the shrine. Also, one cannot really be certain that they belonged to Peter, since in first century Rome the remains of executed criminals were usually thrown into unmarked mass graves.

A bit more about Christianity and early Roman bishops: The Roman empire in the third century was divided by civil war and swept by plague and disease. It was ruled by a bewildering succession of emperors, and for a while by the “tetrarchy” of four emperors. Constantine was declared the only emperor in 306. In 313, he proclaimed that every person was free “to follow whichever religion one chooses.”  Under Constantine, Christianity rapidly became the dominant religion. Christianity alone seemed to offer a single overarching intellectual and moral frame of reference. This greatly appealed to Constantine. Like his father, he had originally worshipped Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, but his mother Helena was a Christian. His conversion to Christianity was gradual. He wasn’t baptized until right before his death in 337. Constantine, however, saw Christianity as the needed cement for his empire. He appointed Christian bishops as civil judges. Bishops tried and judged people and corporal punishments were regularly administered at the command of the bishops. 

In 325 Constantine summoned a council of bishops to meet at Nicaea to reinforce the Christian church as the great unifier of his empire. Constantine needed a church that would demand strong adherence to discipline and dogma. In the ancient city of Nicaea, which today is located within the modern Turkish city of Iznik, Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea to resolve the Arian dispute in the church which threatened to destabilize the entire empire. The Creed of Nicaea clearly expressed the dogmatic teachings that all believes had to uphold. I have always found it interesting that the famous creed says nothing about being a Good Samaritan and loving one’s neighbor. The bishops at Nicaea reinforced the view of God as a God of strict rules and vengeful punishments. Constantine, of course, was a savvy and ruthless emperor when  he declared himself a Christian.

During the early years of Christianity, the bishops of Rome enjoyed no civic temporal power until the time of Constantine. Most of the bishops of Rome, in the first three centuries of the Christian era, were rather obscure figures. The conversion of Constantine, however, propelled the bishops of Rome into the heart of the Roman establishment. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, c.476, the bishops of Rome became powerful rulers.

When Pope Leo III (750 – 816) crowned Charlemagne (743 – 813) as Holy Roman Emperor in 800, he established the precedent that, in Western Europe, no one could be emperor without being crowned by a pope. After a conflict, known as the Investiture Controversy, the papacy increased its power in relation to the secular rulers of Europe. In 1095 Pope Urban II (1035 – 1099) launched the First Crusade which united Western Europe under papal power. The objective of the First Crusade (1095 – 1099) was the recovery of the Holy Land from Islamic rule.

The word “pope” derives from the Greek pappas meaning “father.” In the early centuries of Christianity, the title was applied to all bishops as well as to senior clergy. Later it became reserved in the West for only the bishop of Rome, during the reign of Pope Leo I (400 – 461). He was pope from 440 until his death. Leo was a Roman aristocrat and was the first pope to have been called “the Great.” He is probably best known for having met “Attila the Hun” in 452 and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy. Attila (c. 406–453) was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death. He is also considered one of the most powerful rulers in world history.

Pope Leo I, a powerful man, greatly contributed to developing ideas of papal authority. He was greatly esteemed by Pope Pius IX (1792 – 1878) the pope who strongly condemned liberalism, modernism, separation of church and state, and other Enlightenment ideas. In 1869 he proclaimed that he as pope was infallible, enhancing the role of the papacy and decreasing the role of the bishops. Pio Nono, as he is often called, had this Catholic doctrine dogmatically defined at the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870.

Well enough papal reflections for now. I like the synodality movement in today’s Catholic Church: a process of mutual collaboration and discernment engaging the whole People of God in the life and mission of the Church. Synodality speaks a different voice. As Phyllis Zagano reported in Religion News Service on August 17th: “The synod is a worldwide event, and early reports from bishops’ conferences outside the U.S. repeat the same story: Clericalism is a scourge on the church, and women are not respected or included in leadership.”

  • Jack

12 thoughts on “A PAPAL REFLECTION

  1. Wow, Jack! So much to unpack here! The intertwining of faith and politics has been with us since the beginning it seems. We Catholics have a self image as the “universal” church but history teaches that it isn’t simply because of the message of Jesus that we spread. I remember seminary history studies when we learned that spreading the Gospel was often “Convert, or die!” We truly have hierarchy in our DNA. I see the tension in our own parish which is now pastored by a traditional priest who has lessened participation by the laity in favor of “father knows best” administration. Many holy people have gravitated to the safe, predictable, orderly, uncomplicated role of passive “follow the rules” Catholicism from the 1950’s. There is no parish council or school board, no intra-parish communication through newsletters, etc. Progressive thinking and dialogue is minimal and our population is graying. There is lots of incense, novenas, pre-mass rosaries, bells, and traditional 50’s hymns. The old ways are secure, demand no thinking, and simple rules to follow that will help punch the ticket to heaven. We do say that the Catholic tent is big enough for all, but I wonder how both “styles” can co-exist when they seem so contradictory. A wise priest friend has described it as a tension of “rules versus relationship” in the practice of our faith. What do you see for our future?

    1. The future involves, an ongoing conversation with shared learning and questioning. Yes it will involve as well some heated polarization. What this will lead to is a good question but there will be some bumpy roads along the way.

  2. Note J.A. Dick’s comments and footnoted in this paper.

    How the Church and Christianity came to be as it is—way out of tune
    by David Garshaw in support for Progressive Christianity’s efforts to emphasize following Jesus and not dogma and doctrine (updated July 29, 2022)
    MANY PEOPLE do not know why Christianity arrived in the 21st century with rapidly diminishing significance in our daily lives. Many people identify the secularization process in America with the well-known diminishing influence of Christianity in Europe. From my perspective, with plenty of documentation, only some of which is herein, I offer this line of thought on the church’s decline. It begins with the creation of the hierarchical/patriarchal Church in the fourth century.
    While this historical note critically describes the history of the Roman Catholic Church, I emphatically emphasize my awareness and love for the millions of Catholics over the centuries who have and continue to bless human life with grace fulfilling the Lord’s call to love God and neighbor and serve the poorest of the poor and the victims of all kinds of evil. They give evidence that the Spirit has always been able to penetrate the heart/conscience of people regardless of human distractions and constructs of power and hierarchy.
    Roman Emperor Constantine began to adopt Christianity in 312 CE. By the time of his death, the impact of his totalitarian form of Christianity on the model of the Roman Empire was a continuation of a form of the political Pax Romana (the peace of Rome). Romans regarded peace, not as an absence of war, but the rare situation which existed when all opponents had been beaten down and lost the ability to resist. In the daily lives of those living in the Empire, this meant if you dare step out of line, you will be punished. The same approach was used in formation of official dogma of the Roman Church.
    Clearly the Church could and did use the sword, if necessary, to prevent new thinking that endangered its hold on ecclesiastical power by declaring heresy and condemning heretics. Actually, that hierarchical and patriarchal power included political power for centuries.
    Prior to 312 CE, Christianity was based on following Jesus. Kurt Struckmeyer writes (
    the way of Jesus
    Like many other great religious leaders, Jesus taught a way or path to his followers. His teachings point to an understanding of the religious life as a journey. He spoke about alternative paths encountered on the journey—the wide path and the narrow path.
    He talked about seeking and entering the kingdom or reign of God. These are active words. They imply doing something, moving from where we are to someplace new. These are not words of correct beliefs and doctrine, but words that call us to get up and get going.
    Jesus called people to follow him in a way of living. As a result, the earliest members of the Jesus movement were known as “followers of the Way.”
    the imperial church
    But something happened that changed all that. A dramatic transformation occurred. The emperor Constantine (272–337 CE) invited the bishops of the early church to join him in ruling an empire. By the fourth century, following the way of Jesus in small intentional communities gave way to an imperial institutional church vested in orthodoxy—believing certain doctrines about Jesus (now known as the Christ), and about the virginity and sinlessness of Mary, the curse of original sin, and a trinitarian God.
    When your intent is to create an inclusive religion for an entire empire, the requirements must be easy and undemanding. This is the faith most of us have inherited. It is far easier to believe certain theological ideas about Jesus that were created by male clergy in ecumenical councils—that Jesus was the (only) son of God, that he was sinless, that he died for our sins, that he will come again, that he awaits us in heaven—than it is to follow him in a life of radical love, lavish generosity, extravagant forgiveness, inclusive hospitality, compassionate action, selfless service, a passion for justice, creative nonviolence, and simple living.
    That is the challenge we face if we want to take Jesus seriously. That is the challenge of the Way of Jesus.
    In J.A. Dick’s April 23, 2021 column (, “A Contemporary Creed?,” he wrote:
    When I read either ancient creed, I think immediately about obedience and loyalty to the institution. The Roman Emperor Constantine (emperor from 306 to 337 CE) certainly wanted exactly that when, in 325 CE, he convoked the first Christian council in Nicaea and had the bishops come up with a binding creed to unify Christianity in his empire. Many scholars suggest Constantine’s main objective was to gain unanimous approval and submission to his authority from all classes in the empire. He chose Christianity to implement his political agenda but had to first of all insure Christian unity through loyalty and obedience to the Nicene creed. Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 during the reign of Emperor Theodosis I, who ruled from 379 to 395 CE.
    Constantine changed the course of European history in ways that continue to have repercussions in the present day. Adopting those aspects of the religion that suited his purposes, he turned Rome on a course from the relatively open, tolerant and pluralistic civilization of the Hellenistic world, towards a culture that was based on the rule of fixed hierarchical and patriarchal authority—in politics as well as Church and the Bible’s dogma and doctrine.
    Only a thousand years later, with the advent of the Renaissance and the emergence of modern science, did Europe begin to free itself from the effects of Constantine’s Imperial rule. In many respects, the hierarchical and patriarchal rule continues in the wider church today.
    As society is thankfully moving away from the hierarchical and patriarchal, many people continue to leave the church or don’t pay much attention to it. Also, many consider its doctrine and dogma irrelevant, especially young adults.
    In reference to Constantine in her book, Why Religion, Elaine Pagels writes :
    Am I religious?” Yes, incorrigibly, by temperament, if you mean susceptible to the music, the rituals, the daring leaps of imagination and metaphor so often found in music, poems, liturgies, rituals, and stories—not only those that are Christian, but also to the cantor’s singing at a bar mitzvah, to Hopi
    and Zuni dances on the mesas of the American Southwest, to the call to prayer in Indonesia. But when we say “religion,” what are we talking about?
    Like most people, I used to think that religion was primarily a matter of “what you believe.” But I’ve had to abandon that assumption, since seeing how the particular circumstances of Christianity’s origin led certain leaders to equate “true religion” with a set of beliefs, especially since the fourth century, when certain bishops hammered out the list of doctrines called the Nicene Creed, and Emperor Constantine and his successors decided to use it as a test of who is—or isn’t—legitimately religious. Even today, many Christians insist on a single set of beliefs— whichever one their denomination endorses.
    What I love about sources like the Gospel of Thomas is that they open up far more than a single path. Instead of telling us what to believe, they engage both head and heart, challenging us to “love your brother as your own life,” while deepening spiritual practice by discovering our own inner resources: “Knock upon yourself as on a door, and walk upon yourself as on a straight road. For if you walk on that road, you cannot get lost; and what you open for yourself will open.
    On July 4, 2018, a guest writer on Matthew Distefano’s webpage wrote about freedom. A quote from it:
    …when Jesus came, he painted a much broader vision for belonging, one in which all of these people—every human, in fact—is invited and included. Further, our belonging in the kingdom of heaven is based not on what we look like or believe, but rather in our inherent humanness. We are each a child of God. He said his followers would be known by recognizing this fundamental reality. They would be defined not by what they believed, but by how they loved.

    The early church did this—for about a minute or two. But it didn’t take long for them to start drawing theological boundary markers as well. One of the earliest was the Nicene Creed, 325 CE, which highlighted the necessary theological beliefs for a person to become a Christian: belief in God as
    Creator, Christ as Savior, the Resurrection, the second coming, the personhood of the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. Not a bad list….
    Further theological understanding was included: the doctrine of the trinity, the uncreated eternal nature of Christ, and baptism. But this only lasted a few hundred years, and the Athanasian Creed, 360 CE, with its 43 distinct theological points came into use. As one of my seminary professors put it, “doctrinal inflation” is not something new. What was a peripheral belief at the time of the apostles was a prerequisite belief by 400 CE. Post Reformation, we almost entirely define our religious enclaves over and against one another entirely on doctrinal differences.
    In his March 26, 2021, email post, “Our Christian Environment,” J.A. Dick wrote: “Changing the church environment, for all Christians, has to be a prophetic movement forward. Today, I suggest eight ways to change, improve, and move ahead.” Here I offer his way #4:
    (4) We need to shift from self-protective bureaucratic hierarchies to communities of faith and courageous outreach networks.
    Christianity inherited and blessed some very bad elements of the power structures of the fourth century Constantinian Roman Empire. Thanks to Constantine, Christianity was both officially established and fatally compromised. The Constantinian church began to exercise power over people. Church leadership forgot that Jesus did not exercise power over people; but that he empowered people to take responsibility in living, learning, and caring for one another. Jesus did not control people through authoritarian decrees, laws, and sanctions.
    As they had always been faithful to the Spirit in their work prior to Rome taking over the religion, the theologians, mostly bishops, continued to do their best, under Imperial demands, to be honest and faithful to the holy writings; but they must have felt imperial pressure and fear to produce a product satisfactory to the emperor, who insisted on unanimity for imperial purposes. That is simply how the empire worked. They dared NOT to provide any pushback to Imperial oversight.
    They had reason to fear. It must have been their trust in the Lord that sustained them through the ordeal. The authorities of the Roman Empire, not the bishops, initiated horrible reactions against those bishops who had different views than what the new creeds declared.
    Many of these dissident bishops became treated as heretics and their writings destroyed. Many were excommunicated from the Church and some were exiled from the empire.
    What a loss it was to lose their writings that may have
    positively influenced later theologians AND Christianity
    and the church may have matured more in tune with Jesus.
    Rich Procida, an author and attorney who writes about spirituality and politics wrote this:
    Christianity became less about the teachings of Jesus and more about the person of Christ. Teachings about justice were neglected and corruption slowly engulfed the Church.
    By now you may be thinking “how could there be anything else but progressive Christianity?” Well, as we all know, things didn’t happen that way. In order to accommodate the emperors of Rome and for a variety of often political reasons, Christianity became less about the teachings of Jesus and more about the person of Christ. Teachings about justice were neglected and corruption slowly engulfed the Church.

    In his April 26, 2022 weekly email, Musings, Jim Burklo, Senior Associate Dean, Office of Religious Life, University of Southern California noted in “Contemplation and Action” that “The emerging Catholic church was adopted as the state religion of the Roman Empire. That right there is backwards, no? Because it was the
    Roman Empire that murdered Jesus by torture on the cross. The usual consequences of a state religion began right away, bringing deep corruption into the church. To escape the hollow, performative sort of faith that Christianity was becoming, people fled to the far reaches of the Empire to live simply and spend most of their time in silent contemplative prayer. They wanted to spend their lives with the intention of not just looking, but actually seeing.”
    Finally, I wrote a column for our local paper, “Church will fiddle while America burns,” (Aug 8, 2015) In part,
    Generally speaking, ever since the Roman Empire, the Beast in Revelation, co-opted the church in the early fifth century CE for its own purposes, we have morphed into something different from lovers of the Christ trying to walk in “The Way.”
    Robin Meyers observes, “… Even the nature of faith changes, from the radical first-century ethic of the Sermon on the Mount, in which there is not a single word about what to believe, only words about what to do — to the fourth-century Nicene Creed, in which there’s not a single word about what to do, only words about what to believe.
    “The abiding lesson of Constantine, who ordered the Council of Nicaea to be held, is that the church must never be owned by anyone, or anything else. Constantine believed that he could shore up his crumbling dominion by trading in the old gods, who seemed to be abandoning the realm, and replacing them with Christianity. The experiment not only failed to save the Empire but, sadly, degraded Christianity almost beyond repair. Harvey Cox writes, ‘From an energetic movement of faith it coagulated into a phalanx of required beliefs, thereby laying the foundation for every succeeding Christian fundamentalism for centuries to come.’”
    Meyers brilliantly writes, “…Until the content of the preaching of Jesus becomes the focus of the ministry of the church again — rather than arguments over the post-biblical formulations about the metaphysics and (doctrines) of the Christ — the church will go on fiddling while America burns.”
    After becoming more acquainted with Rome in those days, I give much credit for effectiveness to the Church for making its approved theologians and Councils seem like divine voices not to be questioned without risk of the charge of heresy, excommunication or execution. We know well enough the Protestant Reformation addressed issues mostly outside doctrine and dogma. If my own Systematics course in seminary is indicative, almost all notable Christian theologians ever since have danced lightly around with the dogma and doctrine of the Church.
    To this council we owe the Nicene Creed, defining against Arius the true Divinity of the Son of God (homoousios), and the fixing of the date for keeping Easter (against the Quartodecimans).
    It was directed against the followers of Macedonius, who impugned the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. To the above-mentioned Nicene Creed it added the clauses referring to the Holy Ghost….
    It defined the true personal unity of Christ, declared Mary the Mother of God (theotokos) against Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, and renewed the condemnation of Pelagius.
    It defined the two natures (Divine and human) in Christ against Eutyches, who was excommunicated.
    It condemned the errors of Origen and certain writings (The Three Chapters) of Theodoret, of Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia and of Ibas, Bishop of Edessa; it further confirmed the first four general councils, especially that of Chalcedon whose authority was contested by some heretics.
    It put an end to Monothelitism by defining two wills in Christ, the Divine and the human, as two distinct principles of operation. It anathematized Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, Macarius, and all their followers.

    It regulated the veneration of holy images. Between 300 and 367 bishops assisted.
    It consigned to the flames the Acts of an irregular council (conciliabulum) brought together by Photius against Pope Nicholas and Ignatius the legitimate Patriarch of Constantinople; it condemned Photius who had unlawfully seized the patriarchal dignity. The Photian Schism, however, triumphed in the Greek Church, and no other general council took place in the East.
    It abolished the right claimed by lay princes, of investiture with ring and crosier to ecclesiastical benefices and dealt with church discipline and the recovery of the Holy Land from the infidels.

  3. Certainly a worthwhile read Jack! While I am in complete agreement with the need to recognize the indigenous peoples of any land, and the consequences of the Catholic approach to conversion/theft remain reprehensible, there needs to be some sort of a concomitant reflection on “Go therefore and teach all nations”, i.e. the missionary work of not only the Catholic church but of all others as well. I think about the Far East and the various religious approaches there, but do not know of significant and successful efforts to convert large segments of those populations. The same seems to hold true for Islam. So how is that circle to be squared? Thanks so much for your work!!

  4. Jack, I agree that Francis did not go far enough and he should have condemned the
    “Doctrine of Discovery”. Thanks for your historical background on this.

    In regard to Synodality, it has been my observation that the progressives in the trenches have fully participated in the process, while the conservatives have not participated and have sat it out. What Francis and the Vatican do in the next step will give us an indication of our Church of the future.

  5. Thanks, Jack, for this history. In this time of accountability and reckoning, both in the churches and in our civic lives, we are called on to repent of our past sins, not only our own personal sins but of the churches’ and society’s. It’s unbelievable the pope couldn’t disavow the principle of discovery!
    As for spreading the gospel, imo, we spread it more by example and by using words to explain further to those interested and drawn by our example or from our pulpit, and with patience and understanding of others. Good teachers are so important — that’s why I appreciate you so much! : )

  6. Dear Jack,
    I loved this papal history. I agree with your support of a synodal church. I am a member of Future Church, which also embraces the synodal church. I participated in a month long series of meetings, conversations, and completed surveys regarding what we want for the future of our church. This was conducted via Zoom and was done beautifully. All of the surveys were combined and forwarded to Rome for the 2023 Synod. I so appreciated being a part of this as our Diocese did absolutely nothing toward a serious effort to gather laity together to voice our ideas for an inclusive, thriving Church.
    Thanks again for your writings and thoughts.
    God Bless,

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