October 8, 2015
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although the public is given glimpses of what happens inside the Catholic Church’s world Synod of Bishops, the meetings themselves take place behind closed doors.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Synod of Bishops has been the object of a continual hunt to balance creating a protected space where bishops could speak freely — something that was especially important a couple of decades ago when some members came from Soviet-bloc countries — with letting Catholics at home know that their bishops were working prayerfully and seriously on issues they, too, would find important.
As a theologian, bishop and then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI had attended 15 of the 20 general, special and regional synod assemblies held between 1965 and his election as pope in 2005. One of the first things he did as pope was to institute an hour of “free discussion” at the end of the synod’s evening session each day. Unfortunately, several synod members said, some synod participants insist on reading a text there, too, basically giving themselves the chance to make two formal speeches.