Baldisseri, who had never attended a synod before, said in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano that he found the whole process much less rigid than expected. That’s no doubt due in part to Pope Francis’ move away from formal speechgiving and toward more open debate. Baldisseri characterized the debate as “serious, constructive and not at all dramatic” (others have used words like “impassioned” and “direct,” which implies that differences have been aired forcefully).
In the synod’s first week, Baldisseri said, there were 180 planned interventions and 85 additional talks during the free-discussion period. He defended the synod’s decision not to publish summaries of the talks, saying that summaries did not accurately reflect the debate, anyway. Much better, he said, to allow synod fathers to talk directly with journalists.
Baldisseri said that after the relatio post disceptationem is presented Monday, the circoli minores will have the task of presenting proposed revisions – modi in Latin – which will be presented Thursday in the synod hall. On Saturday, the synod assembly will vote on the final relatio – which insiders say will probably look a lot like the text presented Monday – and give it to the pope. Most bishops believe the pope will make that final relatio synodi public, but no one is sure when. The bishops will also publish a message to the world, generally a more rhetorical text that skims over controversial issues.
Pope Francis, celebrating Mass today in St. Peter’s to mark the canonization (six months ago) of two Canadian saints, made no explicit remarks about the synod. But in his Angelus talk, he touched on a theme that underlies much of the synod’s debate: the need for the church to get out of the sacristy and into the lives of its people.
“We need to overcome the habit of placing ourselves comfortably at the center, like the priests and Pharisees (of Jesus’ time), in order to open ourselves up to the periphery, recognizing that those at the margins are also recipients of God’s generosity,” he said.
A fundamental condition of the good Christian life, the pope added, was charity toward God and other people, expressed concretely in sacrificial acts, especially toward the weakest and the persecuted.