July 28 2005

World’s Bishops prepare for October Synod

In Rome

One of the first actions of His holiness Benedict XVI upon his election was to confirm that the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops convened by his predecessor, John Paul II, would take place in Rome this October 2005. The one thing he did immediately, however, was to cut down the period of the Synod from three weeks to two.

Is this significant? Could it be that, keeping in mind his experience of the long sessions of Vatican II and of previous Synods, the Holy Father, in his wisdom, believed more could be accomplished, more decisions agreed upon, more fruitful results achieved if the world’s bishops were aware that the time frame was one third less than they had anticipated?

This would have the obvious effect of concentrating their attention, sharply focussing their presentations and contributions to the task at hand. It would also militate against the event becoming a repetitious “talk-fest” during which certain groups and factions could, perhaps, have the time and opportunity to organise and dominate or, at least, influence vital decisions. From many reports this is what occurred during the long sessions of Vatican II.

The official reason given is that the shorter time would keep bishops away from their dioceses for less time. That, too, no doubt!

A reading of the “Instrumentum Laboris” (Working Document) is most interesting and, indeed, very encouraging. Let us keep in mind that the theme of the Synod is:

“The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church”

This “Working Document” is basically an assessment and summary of the submissions received by the Vatican from the Bishops of every corner of the Catholic world. It will be the subject of an article in the next issue of “Lepanto”.