Pope Meeting Bishops Personally at Synod

A Day in the Life of the Assembly

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Synod of Bishops is giving Benedict XVI a privileged view of the life of the universal Church.

Since the synodal assembly on the Eucharist began Oct. 2, the Pope has able to attend at least the first and last session of each day.

The last session of the day, 6-7 p.m., is dedicated to free interventions. Each participant may speak for three minutes on any of the synod’s topics. It is also a way for the Pope to take the pulse of the life of the Church and to hear different points of view.

During the coffee break of the morning session, the Holy Father speaks personally with the bishops, who are divided in working groups by languages.

The meetings between the working groups and the Pope have been held daily in a room near the main auditorium of Paul VI Hall, according to Isidro Catela, a synod spokesman. About 40 people attend the meetings, he told ZENIT.

Each of the synod’s participants, not only the bishops, greet the Pope and speak with him for about a minute.

«The Pope is concerned about each one and about their lives. He gives each his undivided attention during those moments,» disclosed Catela. The bishops use the opportunity to speak about the life of their dioceses.

Internet access

In the meantime, between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m., the rest of the synod’s participants take a coffee break together. There is another coffee break in the early afternoon.

During their free time, the synodal fathers can be connected to the Internet thanks to computers installed near the synodal hall.

«No doubt they will read what you have written,» Legionary Father John Bartunek, a spokesman, said during one of his briefings with English-speaking journalists.

During the breaks, the participants can buy photographs of the synod sessions and of other celebrations such as the event’s opening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The only newspaper distributed during the breaks is the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano.

During the interventions in the synod’s auditorium, the name of the bishop addressing the assembly appears on a large screen, as well as a map of the world indicating his diocese. Four smaller monitors around the hall project the speaker’s image.

The six languages being used in the assembly are German, English, Italian, French, Spanish and Latin. Many bishops use earphones for simultaneous translations.

There are also audiovisual projections during the breaks, on events such as World Youth Day or Pope John Paul II’s trips.


At the request of the synodal assembly, there may be an hour of Eucharistic adoration, both in the morning and the afternoon, in the chapel of the synod hall.

Most of the participants are housed in the Domus Sanctae Marthae (which housed the cardinals during the conclave) or in the Child Mary Institute, both in Vatican territory.

Two-hundred fifty-two ecclesiastics are attending the synod. Four seats are empty; these represent the Chinese bishops who didn’t receive government approval to attend.

The assembly’s first «proposals» will begin to be written in Thursday’s working sessions. After being discussed and corrected in the general assembly, the proposals will be included in the synod’s conclusions.

The proposals will be presented to the Pope for use in a postsynodal apostolic letter. The synod closes Oct. 23.

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