When I was a Protestant I was told that all churches were simply human institutions.
When I became a Catholic I was convinced that all Protestant churches were indeed human institutions but the Catholic Church was a divine institution. It had been founded by Jesus Christ.
If that is so, we should look to the way God works in the world, not the way humans work.
Just what is God’s way of working in the world? Where do we find him working through a synod? Can anyone find in the Bible where a democratically elected government ruled over the people of God?
I don’t think so.
Instead God works through individuals. He calls men and women by name and transforms them into his servants. They follow the guidance of his Holy Spirit and through a life of sacrifice and service they lead the people of God forward. They lead by first hearing his call and then, by his grace, they become his saints and servants. The power the church through prayer and they minister through martyrdom.
To be sure, there are bodies of men and women who assist the leader in his work, but they are appointed by him through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The men of Israel and then the Apostles were hand picked for their skills, their gifts and most of all for their character.
Councils of the Church have led us forward, but they were councils of individuals–bishops and successors of the apostles. They were not perfect, but they were qualified and tried after years of training. They were not perfect, but they were consecrated and empowered by the grace of ordination.
This model of governance is that of the tribe, the family or the army.
Think about it. Is a family or an army governed by consultation with the troops or democratically elected leadership?
In the Protestant world the church synods have been one of the main causes of compromise with the world, abandonment of Christian doctrine and the wholesale corruption of Christian morals by the church herself. They elected synod members have dominated through democracy and are not true democrats but demagogues.
A synod in the Catholic Church may have some use as a consultative tool, but as we should not put our trust in princes, neither should we put our trust in the people for every synod will be a synod of sinners and we should mistrust their judgement as much as we would that of any politician.