Listening sessions renamed ‘shut up and listen’ sessions

The Vatican released a memorandum yesterday on updated terminology surrounding the Synod on Synodality.

The memo was released to all bishops of the world, reminding them that which was previously called “listening sessions”–forums where all the faithful could gather locally to voice their needs and concerns–are to be called “shut up and listen sessions” going forward. 

“The Holy Father believes in precise terminology and quickly clarifying public confusion,” Bishop Alfred Schlert of the Diocese of Allentown, PA said. “As such, he felt it helpful to rework our language to better reflect the spirit and intention of the Synod.”

The new name also brings with it a change of format to the previously-called listening sessions of the Synod on Synodality. Instead of a forum of mostly lay Catholics expressing their opinions, the new shut up and listen sessions will be a single Cardinal lecturing those gathered for 90 minutes. 

“Really it is an opportunity and a space for the entire Church to come together and be educated,” Bishop Schlert continued. “The presiding member of the Curia will tell us what we need to believe about American politics, the abuse crisis, church governance, sexual ethics, liturgical preferences–everything!” 

Vatican watchdogs speculate that the sea change was motivated by several surprising and disappointing developments from prior attempts at listening to the laity. 

“In the Synod the Vatican asked for ideas, but then unfortunately it heard some that it didn’t much like,” watchdog Fr. Riccardo Barbagallo said. “So now it’s much easier just to stop listening entirely.”

When pressed, Fr. Barbagallo specified a few likely culprits of such movements. 

“Obviously, the German Synodal Path comes to mind as something that was disappointing to Rome,” he said. “And of course some people were still upset about that pedophilia thing, which was awkward.”

“But the worst by far was that some people still like the Latin Mass,” he continued. “I think that just put everything over the top.”

At press time, the Vatican was considering opening additional listening sessions set up within an echo chamber as a possible alternative.