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Pledge your prayers and fasting for protection of the Church during the Synod on Synodality HERE

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican has released details about the practical structure of the upcoming Synod on Synodality, along with an updated list of participants, including two Chinese bishops. 

In a press conference on September 21, the Holy See issued updated details on the Synod on Synodality, which will run October 4-29. Daily timetables have now been publicized, along with a more definitive list of participants, which is slightly different to that released in early July. 

In brief, the events leading up to and including the synod are as follows:

  • September 30: the consistory of new cardinals
  • September 30: an ecumenical prayer meeting in Rome and the Vatican
  • October 1-3: A retreat for Synod participants led by a pro-LGBT priest
  • October 4- 29: The Synod’s daily sessions take place at the Vatican

Further details are set to be released about the precise regulations surrounding the Synod, including the level of access that journalists will have to the events and participants.

Synod on Synodality logo

Ecumenical gathering: September 30

Not technically part of the official calendar of the Synod, on September 30 an ecumenical prayer gathering will take place around Rome. The focal part of the day’s events will be an ecumenical prayer meeting in St. Peter’s Square, at which Pope Francis will be present along with leaders from a variety of Christian denominations.  

Aimed particularly at young people, numerous workshops will be held around the city, including those with a focus on learning from Islam and Buddhism.

READ: Cdl. Burke questions validity of upcoming Synod: ‘There is no clear idea of what synodality is’

According to Sr. Nathalie Becquart from the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the ecumenical prayer vigil will highlight “the centrality of prayer and the importance of dialogue with others to advance together on the paths of brotherhood in Christ and unity.”

Attended by ecumenical leaders from various Christian bodies, the event will close with a joint blessing from the Pope alongside twelve Christian leaders, both male and female.

After this synod participants will be provided with a welcome dinner, courtesy of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.

Preliminary retreat: October 1 – 3

From October 1 through 3, the participants of the synod will take part in a retreat in Sacrofano, an area about 16 miles north of Rome. The days will be divided into group prayer and Mass in the latter part of the day. 

The retreat will be led chiefly by Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., a 77-year-old English Dominican notorious for his promotion of LGBT ideology and contradiction of Church teaching on the topic.

READ: Pope invites notorious pro-LGBT priest to lead key Synod retreat for bishops  

Radcliffe was a regular celebrant for LGBT Masses, he advocates for the divorced and “remarried” to receive Holy Communion, and has argued that homosexuals “are among the most dedicated and impressive priests I have met.”

Joining Radcliffe in leading the retreat will be the Italian Benedictine Abbess Mother Maria Ignazia Angelini. 

Synod on Synodality: October 4 – 29

After being transported back down to Rome, the synod participants will join the Pope and the new cardinals (from the September 30 consistory) in the opening Mass to mark the synod’s solemn inauguration. 

From there, the daily schedule will commence for the several hundred participants. 

New participants

Announced September 21, there are a few changes to the list that was already published on July 7. 

There are now 464 participants, with 365 voting members, including over 50 female voting members.

Notably, the former prefect of the Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Luis Ladaria will not attend. The synod organizers announced he has apparently decided to decline to take part after being part of the Pope’s personal selection.

Two Chinese bishops will now also attend: Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang from the Shandon Province along with Bishop Antonio Yao Shun of Jining, who is from the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia. 

Yongqiang has a history of working for the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the communist state-sponsored church, and is vice president of the Chinese Catholic Bishop’s Group, which is also part of the state-approved ecclesial apparatus. 

Now also making the list is the controversial President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia.

READ: Pope Francis picks notorious pro-LGBT clerics to participate in October Synod on Synodality  

Non-Catholics will also attend the synod with the “fraternal delegates” including Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal representatives. These individuals will not have voting rights but will be allowed to partake in the discussions. 

The remainder of the participants remain largely unchanged, with notable prelates and clerics of varying degrees of heterodoxy still on the list, about which LifeSite has already reported. For further information on the kind of participants, and voting rights of each, see LifeSite’s prior report.

Cardinals and bishops attend the holy mass for the closing of Extraordinary Synod held by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square on October 19, 2014.

Daily meetings

The over-400 participants – composed of voting members and not-voting experts, or advisers – are set to convene nearly every day to discuss themes drawn from the Instrumentum Laboris, which was released in June. That text highlights topics such as women’s diaconal “ordination,” married priests, and a need to “welcome” the “remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people.” It also promotes Amoris Laetitia’s argument that the divorced and ‘remarried’ can be admitted to Holy Communion as a settled point of “magisterial and theological teaching.”

Every member of the synod will be given copies of all the synod documents so far, namely the preparatory document, the working document for the continental assembly, the reports of the continental assembly, and the Instrumentum laboris.

READ: Bishop Schneider: Catholics ‘cannot obey’ if the Synod on Synodality issues false teachings

Meetings will take place on most days, with Sundays kept free and with times of prayer also included.

The meetings will be divided into five modules, working through the contents of the Instrumentum laboris. 

  • The first module will deal with Section A of the Instrumentum laboris
  • The next three will deal with Sections B 1, B 2, and B 3 of the Instrumentum laboris
  • The final module will be discussing and approving the summary report of the Synod events

In turn, each of the five modules will be composed of “plenary assembly sessions” or “General Congregations,” and about 35 working groups of 11 people and a facilitator called “Minor Circles.” Participants of the Minor Circles will change throughout the synod. Of the 35 groups, 14 will be in English, 8 in Italian, 7 in Spanish, 5 in French, and 1 in Portuguese. 

Each of the first four modules will follow this general order and will take several days:

  • It will begin with a commencement Mass in the Vatican. 
  • Moving to the Paul VI Hall, it will then have an address on the theme of the specific module, given by the General Rapporteur, namely Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich.
  • The participants will then break into a General Congregation discussion followed by two Minor Circle discussions. All participants will give brief speeches before the assembly, at every stage of the discussions. 
  • After the first two Minor Circle discussions, there will be three more General Congregation meetings to hear and discuss the results of the Minor Circle meetings. 
  • Following this, the Minor Circle groups will meet again to compile the Group Report, which will be handed to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops once it is approved.

As for the final module, the fifth, it will be slightly differently structured.

  • After the opening Mass, the draft version of the synod’s Synthesis Report will be presented.
  • This text will then be discussed at the General Congregations and will form the basis for the Minor Circle discussions.
  • The draft report will then be given to the Plenary Assembly for approval. 

Finally, on October 28, the voting members of the synod will be asked to vote on the synod’s report and state their agreement with each point of the document. It will subsequently be given to the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. 

READ: Pope Francis: Cardinal Burke, faithful worried about the Synod are not defending ‘true Catholic doctrine’

No information has as yet been given regarding the public release of the synodal report.

The participants will sing the Te Deum on October 28, and close the event on Sunday, October 29 with a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis with the Synod team. L-R: Cdl. Jean-Claude Hollerich, Fr. Giacomo Costa, Cdl. Mario Grech, Bp. Luis Marín de San Martín, Sr. Nathalie Becquart. October 14, 2022.

Practical points

The synod organizers have stressed that the event will be run to offset the “residual CO2 emissions.” This will be effected by “the financial support of the SOS Planet Foundation and the technical contribution of LifeGate.” SOS Planet Foundation works to make the world “net carbon neutral by 2030.”

Linked to this, participants will be encouraged to “avoid wasting paper,” and so to use tablets and digital means of reading and assessing documents.

According to Dr. Paolo Ruffini, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, the synod will be “a journey of prayer, mutual listening, discernment, and communion.”

However, despite the synod’s process of “listening” and emphasizing “dialogue,” it is likely that there will be considerable secrecy surrounding the events. The Dicastery for Communications will be the official disseminator of information to journalists of the Vatican press corps, with still unconfirmed reports that the Synod discussions might even be bound by the Pontifical Secret – meaning silence under threat of excommunication.

READ: Cardinal Burke warns Synod is part of ‘revolution’ to ‘radically’ change the Catholic Church

However, on September 21, Ruffini shied away from confirming the Pontifical Secret would be used, stating instead that the synod:

does not fall so much under the definition of secrecy but under that of confidentiality and confidentiality, of feeling part for each member of a college that has to work out the position of the Synod.

[Journalists must] understand that the Synod is prayer, a moment of communal discernment different from the summation of individual interventions.

Regulations about how and if journalists are to approach the synod participants are yet to be released. But, as noted by La Croix’s Vatican correspondent, the Dutch bishops revealed that the synod organizers have instructed participants “not to speak to journalists about their own expectations prior to the synod and during the synod, about their own input and the input of others.”

LifeSite will provide detailed, on-the-ground coverage about the ongoing synod.

Pledge your prayers and fasting for protection of the Church during the Synod on Synodality HERE