What happened at the Synod this week?
The Synod officially began in Rome on Wednesday. The official title is the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops (although lay people and religious are also contributing). The Synod continues until Sunday 29 October.
There are 464 people involved. 365 of them can vote, including 54 women, an historic first (a total of 82 women will be present). The full list of participants has been published (in Italian) here .
Bishop Brian McGee is representing the Catholic Church in Scotland. He is posting updates on the Facebook page of his Diocese. See here.
What's being discussed?
Delegates are discussing Module A first part of the working document of the Synod (called Instrumentum Laboris - see here). They are discussing "the characteristic signs of a synodal Church" and "conversation in the Spirit."
What does that mean exactly?
"The participants had the opportunity to get to know each other better by introducing themselves, and sharing their own experiences of synodality, and reflecting on what struck them from others' reflections," said Paolo Ruffini, President of the Commission for Information of the Synodal Assembly. Delegates also shared the experience of the Synod in their own country/area.
I want to read exactly what's being discussed.
The full text being used in the Module can be read here.
How are groups set up?
The Synod has 35 working groups (called circuli minores) divided into groups of around 10 people. This process began on Thursday and continues to Saturday.
How do these groups give feedback to the Synod?
A "rapporteur" has been elected for each working group to gather feedback from their group and present them to the assembly following discussion. This person, elected by majority vote, drafts the report, and "will report convergences, divergences, ideas".
How are language barriers overcome?
There are five official languages of the Synod: English, French, Italian, Portugese and Spanish. Working groups are organised by language.
Where exactly are the working group taking place?
Group work is taking place in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican, where the seating arrangement is designed to facilitate listening and participating (ie circular tables).
What updates are there?
Vatican briefings are taking place at 1:15pm. These are press conferences where media can ask questions about the Synod. Watch them live on Vatican Media's YouTube.
Do delegates get time off?
Sundays October 8, 15 and 22, as well as Friday October 27, are days off.
What happens next week?
From 9-12 October, delegates will discuss the second part of the working document 'Communion, participation and mission - three priority issues for a synodal Church.
What spiritual events are planned?
Masses are also scheduled in St Peter’s Basilica on 9, 13, 18 and 23 October and will be broadcast on Vatican Media's YouTube. On Thursday 19 October there is a prayer service for migrants and refugees in St Peter’s Square. On Wednesday 25 October there is a Rosary in the Vatican Gardens.
What about the final report?
It will be finalised on 27 October 27 and presented to the 364 members entitled to vote. The meeting will conclude with a closing Mass on Sunday 29 October at 10am in St Peter’s Basilica.