Published by The Pillar news outlet, the report indicated that an undisclosed number of bishops had planned to “push back” on controversial elements included in the 40-page draft. Among them are a proposal to establish a permanent synod to advise the pope, a description of gauging the “consensus of the faithful” in “determining whether a particular doctrine or practice belongs to the apostolic faith,” the introduction of continental assemblies, and the document’s characterization of the assembly’s views on the ordination of women, which sources told The Pillar was a distinctly minority position.
The Pillar also reported that some delegates expressed concern that they had insufficient time to read the document before the amendment phase, which took place on Thursday.
Related procedural questions remain about how the final document is being amended and will ultimately be approved.
After receiving the initial draft on Wednesday morning, the text was the subject of an afternoon general congregation, during which members could make brief speeches on its contents.
Then on Thursday, synod members reviewed the draft text in their small groups — of which there are 37, each including about 10 voting members.
Each small group reviewed the 40-page document paragraph by paragraph and discussed desired changes before voting on amendments, called “modi.” The modi can call for “the elimination, addition, or replacement of passages” in the draft, Paolo Ruffini, the synod’s chief communications officer, shared earlier this week.
Each paragraph amendment required a simple majority of small group members for approval.
Unlike table reports earlier in the process, a synod member said, these amendments were directly submitted to organizers, without a presentation to the whole assembly. Debates on these amendments were described as particularly contentious, given participants’ awareness that this would be their last chance to influence the contents of the final document.
The setup raises questions about how well synod writers will be able to incorporate assembly feedback into the final document, especially since a significant number of amendments have been submitted. According to Friday’s press briefing, 1,025 amendments were collected in the small groups, and then 126 additional amendments were submitted by individuals.
At the press briefing, it was also confirmed that members will vote on approving the text paragraph by paragraph. Each paragraph will need the approval of two-thirds of the members present for inclusion. It is unknown what would happen if a particular paragraph does not receive sufficient support from the assembly and how that might affect the final document.
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Upon the document’s approval, it will be used in some further form of consultation with the universal Church that is expected to take place in the months between this assembly’s conclusion and the October 2024 synod assembly — the details of which synod members discussed and voted upon earlier this morning.
Ahead of those deliberations, Hollerich said synod participants will be expected to return to their local Churches to share “the fruits of their work” and to accompany “those local processes that will provide us with the elements to conclude our discernment next year.”
One thing is for sure: While additional stages of the Synod on Synodality remain, what’s contained in tomorrow’s summary document will play a pivotal part in shaping the process going forward.