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Inside the VaticanOctober 19, 2023
Julia Oseka, a synod member and junior at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, attends a working session of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican's Paul VI Audience Hall Oct. 18, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)


Covering the Synod on Synodality is proving challenging for journalists. Pope Francis has asked synod participants to “fast from public words,” and they’ve been instructed in the synod’s official rules not to speak about their own or others’ interventions in the synod, even after the meeting ends.

In this episode of “Inside the Vatican,” host Colleen Dulle interviews John Thavis, the former Rome Bureau Chief of Catholic News Service and author of “The Vatican Diaries” and “The Vatican Prophecies,” about how synods and their guidelines around secrecy have evolved over time.

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“There are risks here,” John says of the Vatican’s “media blackout” approach. “I think one of the risks I’ve seen, even in the press briefings, is that some of the questions by some of the reporters who clearly have an agenda are suggesting that this is all a scheme by Pope Francis to railroad through his own agenda without the world knowing and without a whole lot of real debate, because of course, the press is not privy to that debate.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” he adds, “but I think he does leave himself open to that criticism somewhat.”

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