Metropolitan Hilarion, the 'Foreign Minister' of the Russian Patriarchate delivered on 8 November 2014 an important paper on Primacy and Synodality to the great American, Orthodox, seminary of S Vladimir.
Of course, a Catholic ecclesiologist might have had different things to say. I will simply pick out two of his points which bear upon matters which are relevant to our Catholic Church life at this particular profoundly dangerous moment.
(1) We sometimes read about 'intermediate primacies' and about the importance of local gatherings of bishops in particular regions. Metropolitan Hilarion makes absolutely clear that the local particular church, in communion with its bishop, is theologically fundamental; while regional primacies are merely a matter of convenience, without being rooted in an essential doctrine of the Church. "The primacy of the diocesan bishop is clearly based on fundamental theological principles, such as the one famously emphasised by S Cyprian: 'The bishop is in the church and the church is in the bishop and ... if somebody is not with the bishop, he is not in the church.' Primacy at the regional level, a matter of canonical convenience, is based on church canons ...".
Absolutely. This is why the Holy See, during the ascendancy of S John Paul II and Benedict XVI, was concerned that Episcopal Conferences should not usurp the primacy of the Bishop in his Particular Church, either theologically or practically.
What His Excellency said must surely apply a fortiori to newly-invented 'Synodal ways'.
These words are also important because it is sometimes suggested that we should 'learn' from the East about 'imtermediate primacies'. Well, that is what the 'foreign minister' of the Russian Church had to 'teach' us about the subject.
(2) Synodality implies consensus, not majority voting. Indeed, Hilarion goes further: Conciliar decisions are to be agreed "by consensus, not by vote; they will be approved by the entire assembly of bishops".
This is highly important; it is one reason for deploring Bergoglian proceedings at Synods in Rome, after which paragraphs which have failed even to reach a two-thirds majority have, nevertheless, been circulated with an indication of the number of votes cast for and against. In this, PF has shown characteristically bad judgement. His actions, as so often, have an unfortunate appearance of the arbitrary.
Catholics have always expected that Ecumenical Councils should 'morally unanimous'. It is well known that, after Vatican I, Saint John Henry Newman was concerned that "an aggressive insolent faction" might have "so practised on" the Fathers that "there will be the gravest reasons for determining that the Definition is not valid". That Newman had such large fears about an Ecumenical Council gives us sound guidance about our duty to test a 'Synodal Way' by equally sound priniples.
This is a good time, too, to let that superb phrase of Saint John Henry ring loudly through our minds. Here it is for you again: "AN AGGRESSIVE INSOLENT FACTION". He did so have a way with words! He is a very fine Patron to have!! And so up-to-date!!! What a blogger he would have made!!!!
Discussing similar matters in 2017, I myself wrote the following words, the truth of which still seems to me self-evident.
If, at some future time, there were to be Synodical or even Conciliar proceedings dominated by a particular will or faction determined to impose heterodoxy or heteropraxy, and if that faction secured a majority vote for their aims without securing the consensus of moral unanimity, and if they were to attempt forcefully to impose their 'majority decisions' upon the Church; such 'imposition' would be vis sine iure.