Proposals at the Synod on Synodality “radically at odds” with the apostolic tradition are “not of the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has said, because Christ and the Holy Spirit are not “at war with each other.”
In an extensive interview from Rome, where he is participating in the Synod on Synodality, Archbishop Fisher said Catholics need to be wary of attributing every idea raised in the church to the direct influence of the Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit. He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, and so he is only ever going to be saying things that are consistent with what Christ has revealed to us in the apostolic tradition,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“[Proposals] “radically at odds [with tradition] … that’s not of the Holy Spirit because we cannot have Christ and the Holy Spirit at war with each other.”
“We’ve got to be careful about blaming everything—all our opinions, our interests, lobbies, and factions—putting all that on the Holy Spirit,” he added.
“Catholics like to think that the Holy Spirit elects the pope, the Holy Spirit chooses our bishops and priests for us, the Holy Spirit does this and that.
“And there’s no doubt that God’s hand, God’s providence, is there in all those important things in our lives and in the life of the church.
“But we’ve also had some terrible popes in history. We’ve had some awful priests and bishops and awful things happen in people’s lives. And was the Holy Spirit absent? No, but he permitted those things to happen.
“So let’s not pin everything on the Holy Spirit that happens at the synod or anywhere else in our lives. I think that’s actually superstitious to do that.”
Synod should address crisis of faith
Archbishop Fisher also told EWTN that the synod could be an opportunity to discuss more pressing themes in Catholic life, like the crisis of faith among youth—a theme he raised during Australia’s 2022 Plenary Council.
“It is much more urgent, in the end, so much more serious than tinkering at the edges about whether 0.001 per cent of women might be deaconesses…” he said.
“It’s trivial compared to the huge loss of faith that we have happening, particularly in whole generations at the moment.”
Archbishop Fisher described the synod as an “experiment” that raises “quite serious theological questions” about its nature and authority.
Yet Christ has already revealed everything necessary for salvation, and gave us “solid” teaching to help the church discern the validity of proposals from the synod assemblies, he said.
“Christ has given us everything we need for our salvation, already revealed. We hand that on from generation to generation, the Gospel and the teachings of the church,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“We already have a whole body of teaching, of reflection, by thousands and thousands of people down through the generations, guided by the Holy Spirit on all sorts of questions there to help us, the deposit of faith as we call it, it’s there to be mined.”
“So we’re not just left to our own devices, our own thinking—whatever the mood is in the assembly on a particular matter. We’ve actually got something solid to rely on and to test the moods and the intuitions against.”