Structure and content of the final document still undetermined

Participants: No sharp controversies at Synod on Synodality so far

Vatikanstadt - Halfway through the Synod on Synodality: According to the interim conclusion of some participants, there have been no sharp controversies. Yet it is unclear what the final document will look like. The communications director, however, gave some hints.

Published  on 14.10.2023 at 17:46  – 

Several participants in the Synod on Synodality in the Vatican denied on Saturday that there had been sharp controversies in the first two weeks of deliberations. The four-week world synod, made up of some 350 bishops, priests, religious and lay people, was halfway through on Saturday.

The Abbot General of the Cistercian Order, Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori, who comes from Ticino, told journalists at the Vatican: "This Synod fortunately avoids journalistic controversies. We avoid superficial confrontations and instead go into depth." The friar explicitly denied that the admission of women to the priesthood had been a topic of discussion. However, a possible diaconate for women had been discussed. However, it was not a question of "demands", but of how the Church could best fulfil its mission in the world.

James Martin: It is definitely hard work!

In background discussions on the previous days, other participants had said that there had always been clearly different positions, also on the question of women. After some statements, there had been applause. The US Jesuit James Martin, who is considered a proponent of opening up in homosexual pastoral care, tweeted on Platform X on Saturday: "I can't say much about what everyone in the auditorium is saying or what convergences and divergences there are. But it's definitely hard work!"

Speaking to journalists on Saturday, Vatican communications director Paolo Ruffini spoke of a "dialogue free of disturbances, even if people do not always agree." Differences of opinion would be openly addressed as such, but there would be no polarisation. Everyone tried to listen and understand the other, even beyond cultural and conceptual differences. Participants are willing to have the opinion they came with challenged and to change it if necessary, he said. "It is an extraordinary exercise of community in difference," the trained journalist summarised his observations. However, Ruffini did not rule out the possibility of "more polarisation" in the second half of the Synod Assembly.

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In the meantime, Ruffini said at the press conference on the mid-term of the Synod that he suspects that the final document will look very different from the final papers of previous assemblies of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican. This is also due to the fact that the current meeting is only the first of two meetings on the subject of synodality, Ruffini said. The text to be presented at the end of October will therefore probably "resemble a more developed working paper rather than a final document".

Final votes this time too

At meetings of the Synod of Bishops in previous years, individual points and demands had been put to the vote one after the other at the end. The texts adopted with more than two-thirds of the votes then became part of the final document.

Ruffini said that there would certainly be a final vote at the end of the current assembly, but he did not know what it would look like. He indicated that there would rather not be separate votes by bishops and non-bishops at the end. All Synod members, regardless of their consecration, are members of one and the same advisory body to the Pope. For the first time, lay people will also have the right to vote at the Synod of Bishops. (cbr/KNA)