From the Synod – October 17, 2008

Our small language group – English Group B – has had very productive, rich and wide ranging discussions. We have identified a number of critical areas that would be the subject of propositions that will be considered by the Synod Fathers for presentation to the Synod Commission and the Holy Father, who will use those propositions to formulate his post-synodal exhortation.

Each of the 12 language groups reported this morning on their work. As relator, I reported for our group. While the individual interventions made by the Synod Fathers are given while seated, these summary group reports are given from the dais.

The experience for me was not unlike a meeting of our U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops where one talks facing the room full of bishops, except here the Pope is present – a little more unnerving. I had a hard time staying within the 10 minutes allotted for the presentation.

There was a good deal of overlap in the group reports, so it is obvious that there is beginning to emerge a focus on the areas of concern important to the bishops.

Before the end of the morning session, those auditors who had not yet had a chance to make their intervention were invited to do so. It is clear the Synod gives everyone an ample time to express their opinions and offer their reflections. The comments by the priests, religious, fraternal delegates (representatives from other religions) and laity have been most helpful. Many expressed their gratitude for being invited to participate in the Synod, and it was obvious they had given much thought to their remarks.

We were back in small groups for the afternoon session today. Now, as the saying goes, the rubber is hitting the road. Our group worked diligently to formulate propositions that will be the way our group’s members can have an impact on the work of the Synod.

Propositions formed by the groups can take many forms. They might be recommendations, new initiatives, encouragements or statements to be underscored.

In our group, we developed 29 propositions based on eight areas: Word of God and the Lay Faithful; Evangelization, Proselytism and Sects; Proclamation, Preaching, and Formation of Priests; Bishops, Theologians, Exegetes Together; Word of God and Contemplation; Word of God in Sacred Scriptures; Spirit of Forgiveness and Healing; and Sacred Scripture in the Eucharistic Celebration.

In the give and take of the discussion, it was obvious, as you would expect, that bishops from different countries have varied perspectives and priorities. What is of concern in one country may not be of interest in another. In the give and take, we did reach consensus on sending forward a wide range of propositions.

Now, the hard work begins for the relators. The three of us English group relators will now meet to gather, coordinate and unify the varied propositions that came forward from our groups.

After that, we will meet in diverse language groups (one relator from English, French, Spanish and Italian/German) to collate, clarify and unify propositions from the various language groups and to formulate one list of propositions to be presented to the full body of the Synod.

This weekend will be a very busy time for sure, since each of the 12 groups formulated from 20 to 40 propositions.

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