Members of the Synod of Bishops gathered at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall have issued a new appeal for peace. During regular press briefings, several important themes were addressed, including “shifting to listening,” “accepting diversity,” and “the role of women.”
One significant topic discussed was the issue of outsiders accessing the cloud containing confidential documents. Paolo Ruffini, Chairman of the Information Committee and Prefect of the Congregation for Communications, clarified the situation by stating, “There is no secret, but the intention is to keep it secret.”
Additionally, all participants in the Synod observed a minute of silence to remember the tragic events in the Holy Land and the forgotten wars around the world. On October 14, the 340 participants once again prayed for peace. However, the General Assembly brought saddening news of the death of the Secretary General of Caritas Syria and the brother of a member of the Synod of Bishops. This shared grief demonstrated unity and exemplified the consultation-style approach of the Synod.
In an unprecedented move, the meeting was chaired by a woman for the first time. Sister Maria De Los Dolores Palencia Gómez from the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Lyon presided over the gathering. Sister Maria has dedicated her life as a nun to offering support and assistance to immigrants from Latin America and other marginalized regions for over 50 years. She spoke about her experience of unconditional support and inclusion, which echoes the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sister Maria emphasized the importance of respecting diversity and shared responsibility within the Church.
Father Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, general president of the Cistercian Order, shared his revolutionary experience of attending the Synod. He highlighted the transformative power of “conversion to listening.” Father Lepori explained that the round tables used for group discussions at the Synod facilitated deeper relationships, friendships, and an enhanced ability to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Regarding the issue of women’s ordination, Father Lepori stated that it was not the main topic of discussion at the Synod. However, he acknowledged that the topic of women deacons was addressed. The Synod aims to involve women actively in the life of the Church.
The Synod also included the voices of people with disabilities. Enrique Alarcón García, president of Frater España, a Spanish Christian fraternity for persons with disabilities, attended the gathering in a wheelchair. He expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for including him and other disabled individuals in the Synod. Enrique emphasized that the Pope’s concern for the lives and perception of disabled people within the Church has transformed their perception of themselves as active participants in evangelization.
Lastly, Paolo Ruffini clarified the issue of document confidentiality. The Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has created a cloud to share some documents with Synod members. While the cloud requires credentials to access, Ruffini emphasized that the intention is to keep individual reports of each group confidential.
For more information about the Synod of Bishops and its ongoing discussions, visit the official Vatican News website at www.vaticannews.cn.