Abbot Primate Gregory J. Polan, OSB, and the abbots president of the congregations that constitute the Benedictine Confederation met together from 6-11 September 2020 at Sant’Anselmo in Rome for their annual synod. During the course of this meeting, the abbot primate and abbots president examined various issues impacting the Church and the Benedictine Confederation. In addition, the synod examined annual reports on the principal activities and events of the Primatial Abbey of Sant’Anselmo, Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’Anselmo, and Collegio Sant’Anselmo.
The synod is usually an annual event. However, in 2020, the Synod of Abbots President was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 also caused the cancellation – twice – of the Congress of Abbots in 2020 and 2021. At this meeting, the synod decided to hold the next Congress of Abbots in 2024.
The following is a short list of the important issues that were discussed:
- Status reports of the congregations delivered by the abbots president;
- Status reports from the Athenaeum’s Rector Fr. Bernhard Eckerstorfer, the Collegio’s Prior Fr. Mauritius Wilde and Sant’Anselmo Treasurer Fr. Geraldo Gonzalez y Lima, including a tour of Sant’Anselmo renovations led by European Development Director Fr. Marcus Muff;
- A statistical report on the confederation extracted from the newly-digitized Catalogus Monachorum prepared by Fr. Patrick Carter, of Clear Creek Abbey;
- A presentation of the Traditionis Custodes apostolic letter issued by Pope Francis in July by Abbot Philippe Dupont and Abbot Guillermo Arboleda;
- A discussion of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law as it relates to unauthorized spending by a superior, led by Fr. Laurentius Eschlböck of Schottenstift;
- A review of the attempt to renew the Benedictine Proper Calendar of Saints, by Abbot Philippe Dupont;
- A decision to support an initiative to request from Pope Francis the possibility of having brothers as abbots and conventual priors; and
- The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The synod also held the election of the members of the Permanent Council of the Synod of Abbots President and the Vicar. Three new members of the council were elected: Ab. P. Maksymilian Nawara, Annunciation; Ab. P. Antony Puthenpurackal, Silvestrine; and Abbot Jeremias Schröder, Ottilien. Abbot Jeremias also was re-elected as vicar of the abbot primate.
It was not all work, however. On Wednesday, the abbots president took a guided tour of the Villa del Priorato di Malta’s church and gardens, located next door to Sant’Anselmo, and then walked across the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta to Santa Sabina, for a guided explication of the famous doors of the basilica and a view of the cell where Saint Dominic lived during his time in Rome. The group then held a Vespers liturgy and reception at Chiesa di San Benedetto in Piscinula, hosted by the Heralds of the Gospel religious order. The abbots capped the tour with a dinner celebrating Abbot Primate Gregory’s 50th anniversary of his monastic vows.
All agreed that the 2021 meeting, after two years of delay, strengthened the sense of family and of belonging. This was in no small part due to the support of the summer community of Collegio Sant’Anselmo, to whom the synod extends its warmest thanks.