The Synod on the Family is in its final week. Right now, the 318 synod participants (including 270 synod fathers, 18 married couples and the fraternal delegates) are in 13 language groups, discussing the third and final part of the working document.
This third part includes not only the three vexed questions—divorced and remarried, homosexuality and homosexuals, and cohabitation and cohabiting couples—but also many others that are perhaps even more important ones in other parts of the world, such as mixed marriages (between Christians from different denominations) and inter-religious marriages (between Catholics and the followers of other religions), indigence and usury, procreation and upbringing, and the role of the family in evangelization.
The discussion will end at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 20. That afternoon the rapporteurs of the 13 language groups will present the reports from their respective groups to the plenary assembly. They will also present their ‘modi’ (amendments).
The 13 rapporteurs will then sit together and sift through those ‘modi’ (hundreds of them) to identify the ones that obtain consensus. Once this operation is completed they will pass this new batch of ‘modi’ to the commission of 10 persons that Pope Francis has established to draft the final document. Cardinal Peter Erdo, the rapporteur general, is chairman of the drafting.
By Sunday, Oct. 18, the commission had completed drafting the text based on the first two parts of the working document, after incorporating the ‘modi’ received. That part of the work is done.
The commission will work all day on Oct. 21 to draft that part of the final text based on Part III of the working document, incorporating all the ‘modi’ received.
Cardinal Erdo will present the first draft of the final document to the plenary assembly on the morning of Oct. 22. The plenary assembly will discuss this draft text at the afternoon session of that same day. The fathers will then have one last chance to submit observations in writing.
The special commission will meet for the last time on Oct. 23, and incorporate those observations into the draft text, before finalizing it that same evening.
Cardinal Erdo will present the synod’s final document to the plenary assembly on the morning of Oct. 24, and the 270 synod fathers will vote on it, paragraph by paragraph, that evening. The synod’s handbook states that “a strong consensus or at least a two-thirds majority among those voting is required” for the approval of the text. Once approved, it will be handed over to Pope Francis. Many synod fathers said they expect him to make the final document public then, and to announce that he will write a magisterial text next year drawing on the synod’s conclusions.