What happened this week at the synod—and what's next?

The Synod on the Family is now gathering steam. At seven o’clock this Thursday evening, Oct. 8, it will conclude its discussion of Part I of its working document (the “Instrumentum Laboris”). By then participants will have spent more than 12 hours over this past week discussing Chapters 1-4 of that basic text. (Note: The working document is the fruit of the 2014 synod, enriched by additional input that was gathered in dioceses worldwide over the past year.)

Over the past three days, the 270 synod fathers and the 48 other participants (including 18 married couples) have discussed in some depth those three chapters in 13 language groups, each with some 20 members. They have reviewed, analyzed and commented on them, and have come up with changes, additions or amendments to that text.

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Tomorrow morning, Oct. 9, the rapporteurs of the 13 groups will each present a report to the plenary assembly giving the input from their respective groups.

Those 13 reports will then be handed over to the 10-member special commission that Pope Francis set up to draft the synod’s all-important final document (the “Relatio Finalis”).

Federico Lombardi, S.J., the director of the Holy See’s Press Office, confirmed today that the full text of each of the 13 reports will be released to the media.

In drafting the synod's final document, the special commission will not only draw on these reports but will also take into consideration the speeches (either oral or written) delivered to the plenary assembly in the first two days of this synod. In addition, it will also have before it the Final Report of the 2014 synod and the two major addresses given by Pope Francis at the beginning and end of that gathering.

The task of drafting the final document is no easy one, but it begins tomorrow, Oct. 9, with a meeting of the drafting commission and will conclude on Oct. 24, when the definitive text of the final document is presented to the plenary assembly for its approval.

Article 60 of the official handbook states that, “a strong consensus or at least a two-thirds majority is required,” for approval of the synod’s final document.

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