Debates over content of final document

Debates over content of final document

Bishops at the Synod on the Family © Cristian Gennari/Siciliani (KNA)

Participants in the Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family have intensively debated the final document of the three-week assembly. In addition to numerous written amendments, 51 synod members took the floor Friday.

This was communicated by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. They spoke on a variety of topics, such as the use of certain biblical quotations, the problems of migrants, the pastoral care of marriage and the relationship between morality and conscience.

Vote on Saturday afternoon

On Saturday afternoon, the 270 or so voting synod members will vote on the final document. According to Vatican sources, the first draft of the drafting commission, which was handed over to the synod on Thursday evening, contained about 85 articles.

Participants will have to decide on each of them individually. A two-thirds majority is needed to include a paragraph in the final document. Finally, there will be another vote on the whole text.

Lombardi went on to say that over the course of three weeks, the synod's language groups had 1.355 proposed changes to original working paper submitted to drafting commission appointed by pope. It is expected that Pope Francis will publish the text on Saturday evening. At the presynod in October 2014, he had released to the public the final document at that time, along with precise details of the voting percentages.

As early as Saturday morning, the synod's general rector, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest, will read the text to the plenum in the synod's auditorium. It will be available to synod members only in Italian and will be translated by simultaneous interpreters. Then the voting begins.

Synod message on conflicts in the Middle East Expects

Before that, they will decide on the wording of a synod message. It will deal with the conflicts in the Middle East. According to Lombardi, in the text the bishops call for an end to all violence and for dialogue among religions. It condemns in particular the persecution of Christians in the region and the arms trade that keeps conflicts alive.

According to information from synod circles, the text will be relatively general – including references to remarried divorcees and homosexuals. This will give the Pope the opportunity to draw concrete conclusions in a next step, it was said.

Also on Friday morning, the synodals elected the members of the "synodal council," which will be responsible, among other things, for preparing the "post-synodal letter" prepared by the pope. As one participant reported in his Internet blog, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Archbishop Bruno Forte of Italy and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of England were elected from Europe.

However, several spokesmen of the conservative current were also elected, including the African Cardinal Robert Sarah and the Australian Curia Cardinal George Pell.

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