Weinandy's next complaint is that Francis is fostering disunity in the church by encouraging "a form of 'synodality' that allows and promotes various doctrinal and moral options within the Church [and] can only lead to more theological and pastoral confusion." Again, Weinandy believes that any views that are different from his theology are wrong. He even asserts that "Such synodality is unwise and, in practice, works against collegial unity among bishops."
In reality, collegiality and synodality are trying to explain the same reality - the union of the pope with the college of bishops where there is shared responsibility for the church under the primacy of the pope. Sadly, collegiality under John Paul became defined as the obligation of the bishops to agree with him in all things. Synods became a joke, where bishops quoted the pope to himself and told him how great he was.
Francis, on the other hand, encourages free discussion and debate, which he sees as the path to theological and pastoral development. Ironically, Weinandy complains about the pope allowing too much freedom of discussion and then takes advantage of this freedom to tell the pope that he is all wrong.
Finally, Weinandy accuses the pope of being vindictive. What "many have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it." He goes on, "Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse."
Again, Weinandy appears to have forgotten the fear inspired in bishops and theologians by John Paul, who would allow no discussion on issues on which he had made up his mind. Weinandy has also conveniently forgotten his own role in this inquisition. So far, he can provide no evidence of similar actions against him and his colleagues by Francis.
In brief, Weinandy fails to see that most of his criticisms of Francis are exactly the same as the criticisms that progressive theologians had of Pope John Paul II. While Weinandy believes Francis has betrayed the legacy of John Paul and Benedict, progressive theologians accused John Paul of betraying the documents and spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Progressives too felt that John Paul's episcopal appointments were disastrous. And they saw scores of their colleagues subjected to inquisitional procedures that Weinandy helped carry out for the bishops and the pope.
If a theologian like St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson of Fordham University had written a similar letter to John Paul, the Vatican and the bishops would have come down on her like a ton of bricks.
Weinandy, on the other hand, got a slap on the wrist from the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and
lost his position
as a consultant to the bishops' Committee on Doctrine.
In his statement, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo noted that "Throughout the history of the Church, ministers, theologians and the laity all have debated and have held personal opinions on a variety of theological and pastoral issues." But, he said, "every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor's statement than to condemn it." And, "This presupposition should be afforded all the more to the teaching of Our Holy Father," DiNardo said.
I don't disagree with anything DiNardo said, I just wish dissenters had been treated similarly during the papacies of John Paul and Benedict.
Yesterday's papal loyalists are today's dissidents. Yesterday's dissenters are today's papal defenders. The true scandal in the church is not what one theologian or pope says, it is that we are not capable of dialoguing with each other. That is the fault of John Paul and Benedict, not Francis. They attempted to impose their theologies (their way of explaining the faith) on the church and silenced anyone who disagreed.
With the papacy of Francis, we are being invited to dialogue in a truly collegial fashion. Why does that scare people like Weinandy? Because they can no longer impose their views on the church. They are no longer in charge.