What Would John Paul Say at the Synod?

What would St. John Paul II say if he heard about all the media firestorm surrounding the Synod on Synodality in Rome?

That’s what Hannah Hiester at CatholicVote asked and answered in a story carried by the organization’s popular newsletter, The Loop. Hiester is one of two students of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, who have been covering the Synod.

“In honor of Pope St. John Paul II’s feast day on Oct. 22, here are definitive teachings from his papacy about some of the hot button issues that have surrounded this synod,” she wrote this week from Rome.

On women’s ordination: The Pope’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (on the ordination of priests) teaches: “The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” Hiester’s reporting puts his words in context and spells out what it means and what it doesn’t mean: It doesn’t imply that the sexes are unequal in dignity.

On civil unions: The 1992 catechism that John Paul promulgated speaks definitively on the morality of homosexual acts. But Hiester points to a document of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Fatih that spells out more of the consequences: “The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society,” the document said. “Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.” Her article adds important context about the dignity and respect due to those who are same-sex attracted.

On communion for divorced and remarried Catholics: In his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II said “the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.” Hiester quotes important context St. John Paul II added. If the Church were to do otherwise, “the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”

Hiester’s article explains how each of these have come up more recently and how they have been expressed at the Church’s highest levels. is a timely and significant contribution to the debate about important issues in the Church that are not new to the 21st century.

Writes Hiester: “In Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II said that the Church’s response to divorced Catholics is to lovingly ‘make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church.’”

That can sum up each of these issues, which require true accompaniment that acknowledges the love owed all people and the obedience owed God.

Read Hiester’s whole article here.

Image: STV26, wikimedia.

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.