Wednesday, November 01, 2023


By Tim Rohr

Here is an interview with an African bishop after the end of the Synod on Synodality.

I personally found the report of the interview, as presented by Vatican correspondent, Edward Pentin, very interesting given that Pentin chose to end his report with the African bishop relating a reportedly African maxim in French:

Les chiens aboient, la caravane passe.

Translation: "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."

It struck a personal note with me because the same phrase was used by a motivational speaker (Charles Paul Conn) back in the day (more than 30 years ago) when I was a struggling entrepreneur and unaccustomed to rejection and the normal hardships of making a sale. 

For whatever reason, the phrase stuck with me; and while my entrepreneurial success is not the stuff of books, the image of dogs barking while the caravan moved on helped me overcome enough personal stuff to provide for a family of thirteen for the better part of thirty years. 

For readers needing a bit more explanation, the bishop himself sort of provides it:

Nobody is bothered about those things (challenges to defined doctrine). Christians understand their doctrine, the teaching of the Church, and they’re going on...We will get worried if the caravan stops. As long as the caravan does not stop, then the dogs bark.

This should be easy for us in Guam to understand. 

Dogs barking at our cars and nipping at our tires (if not our heels) is a common thing. But do we stop and try to educate the dog? Of course not. Even runners or walkers know not to pay attention to the dog, and if the dog insists on being a pest, to turn on it and it will usually go away. And we move on. We don't chase the dog or lecture its owner. 


Well, anyway, here's a few other things the African bishop said:

As a synod council member, … I understood, listening to the arguments, that this synod is not about change of doctrine. This synod is about journeying together, whatever journeying together means.

My Note: The bishop's quip: "whatever journeying together means" is significant because this "journeying" appears to be the object of the Synod...but journeying where? 

Whether we’re talking to 'LGBT' people or we’re talking to polygamists or we’re talking about ourselves, there must always be the call to conversion, conversion to the Gospel.

John Paul said “Enough,” Francis says “Talk,” but the important thing is that we are teaching what the Church says and we’re moving on. The Church remains. For me, this is a consolation.

In Africa, we understand marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and anything short of that is witchcraft. This is something we said very strongly. We cannot be talking about sensitivities and orientations within the Church setting when this is what the Gospel says. This is what the teaching of the Church has said all along and this is what various cultures believe.

...spiritual poverty is what is leading us a lot into material poverty.  

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