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An open and participatory debate

· Methodology of the Synod of Bishops on the family which will commence on 4 October ·

The next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme of the family, will be structured in a way that allows ample space for the voices of the 270 bishops to be heard. This was announced by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, in a press conference on Friday morning, 2 October, in the Holy See Press Office.

The bishops will be joined by around 90 religious, auditors, experts, collaborators and fraternal delegates. The Synod will commence on Sunday 4 October with a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's basilica.

Cardinal Baldisseri highlighted three ways in which participants can take action during the work: through programmed participation during the general congregations, the space reserved for free interventions at the end of each day, and small group discussions divided into different languages.

One of the novelties of this fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod, which has been dedicated to the theme “the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”, is the number of Circuli minori, which are thirteen (one German, four English, three Spanish, two Italian and three French), and are five more than the previous ordinary meeting which took place in 2012. Another novelty is that at the end of each week the working groups will make their reports public. Considering that the work will be divided into three parts, one for each section of the Instrumentum laboris (dedicated to listening to the challenges faced by the family, and to discerning its vocation and mission today), in total 39 reports will be made public.

At the end of the work a final text will be presented to be approved by the Synod Fathers. To ensure transparency, the Commission for the Elaboration of the Final Report was established and appointed by Pope Francis. The Commission will oversee the development of each of the three parts of the report, the final text of which will be presented in plenary session. Cardinal Baldisseri said that this will “harmonise the various positions that emerge. The Commission of the ten will ensure greater transparency.” If there are amendments “they will be added in the final text that will be read in its entirety, followed by the voting.” At the end of the three weeks, “a text will result as the fruit of the reflections and various interventions of the Synod Fathers.” There will be no obstacles to discussion. 

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 22, 2018

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