VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) –– Officials from the Synod on Synodality have stated that the October meeting’s much-anticipated synthesis document will be a summary of the meetings, and present “open questions” rather than being a kind of “final document.”
The Synod on Synodality’s October 2023 meeting comes amid much media scrutiny, which has been both hampered and simultaneously heightened by the Vatican’s peculiar move to implement an order of secrecy on the event.
As such, and particularly in light of numerous discussion points that appear to contradict Catholic teaching, the meeting’s synthesis report has been expected to finally shed much light on what took place behind close doors.
But even here, much remains unknown.
Speaking to the synod members on October 18, relator general Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich announced details about what the synod’s document would look like. Even this announcement was made in secret, with the assembled press hastily and peculiarly ushered out of the Paul VI Audience Hall just prior to the announcement – they had been attending the public opening of the fourth module.
Imparting information to journalists later, Dr. Paolo Ruffini of the Dicastery for Communication said that Hollerich stated that the text would be “short,” and be “at the service of a process which continues.”
It would be a “transitional text” containing the “experiences of assembly, including points of consensus and disagreements,” Ruffini said.
The text would “contain open questions which will require canonical, theological, and pastoral deepening together with the people of God.”
Ruffini added that Hollerich downplayed the final nature of the text. The “synthesis report is not a final document, nor is it the instrumentum laboris for the next assembly” in 2024, he said.
Rather, the text would “focus on accompanying the subsequent phases,” presumably meaning that there is to be a new instrumentum laboris for the October 2024 synod meetings which will be compiled at some point next year.
According to Ruffini, the commission for overseeing the synthesis report also decided to “draft a letter to the entire people of god, especially those who have not been involved in synodal process, about the experience of the members of the synod.”
This was put to a vote for all the assembled synod members, as approved by Pope Francis. Of the 346 voters present, the votes were 335 in favor with 11 votes against.
Under Pope Francis’ 2018 guidelines for the Synod, Episcopalis Communio, the question of what happens to the Synod’s final document lies firmly in the hands of the Pope.
Dr. Ruffini confirmed to LifeSite in late September that the question of the document’s publication was indeed up to the Pope. However, it now appears that the text is to be made public.
Who is actually writing the synthesis report?
Significant questions remain about who is tasked with putting the text together, as synod officials have been notably averse to answering questions on this point.
The 35 small circle groups are tasked with filing a report of their discussions at the end of each of the first four modules. These are then assembled into the formation of the synthesis report.
However, asked by the National Catholic Register who was writing the synthesis report, Ruffini said that there were “sherpas” involved in assisting the official secretaries but that it would not make sense to reveal their names.
Ruffini stated the synod’s “experts” would be tasked with the writing, while an official commission would oversee the work. These experts are thus suddenly given a huge role: While they have not held voting rights, they will nevertheless be tasked with compiling the report about the event.
The “experts” are heavily drawn from the “experts” who complied the October 2022 working document for the continental stage and include figures such as Austen Ivereigh; Monsignor Piero Coda, the Secretary of the Pontifical International Theological Commission that advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; pro-contraception and pro-homosexual Monsignor Philippe Bordeyne, the dean of the revamped Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family.
According to the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin, two experts in particular are likely to be charged with drafting the report: Anna Rowlands and Father Eamon Conway. Rowlands in particular has emerged onto the Vatican scene in recent times and has done so in conjunction with the General Secretariat of the Synod. She is part of Durham University’s Theology and Religion department and has made “synodality” her area of focus.
Two special secretaries from the overseeing commission would have particular charge of the report as drawn up by the experts. They are Father Giacomo Costa, S.J. of the general Secretariat of the Synod and Monsignor Riccardo Battocchio.
Costa is a key member of the leading team behind the Synod, a key author behind the Instrumentum laboris for the Synod on the youth and as special secretary for that synod’s final report. Both Costa and Battocchio, as Pentin highlights, have a history promoting issues pertaining to homosexual advocacy.