Gathered in the Synod’s New Hall in the Vatican on Monday afternoon with the Pope were the Bishops of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), on the first day of their assembly, which will end on May 25.
Shortly after the first greetings, the Holy Father decreed the ‘extra omnes,’ namely that all, except the Bishops, should leave the Hall, so that what he described as a frank and sincere dialogue could begin. This was the reason there was no live TV broadcast of the session. It was a moment in which he requested that the Bishops speak freely, including those who disagreed with anything.
The Pope pointed out that he had written some words, but that they were more a meditation for the Bishops, so they would be handed out at the end of the assembly, and that instead he preferred to converse with them. He also greeted Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, who is leaving his post as President of the Italian Episcopal Conference after a ten-year double mandate. “Thank you for your patience,” he said, “because it’s not easy to work with me,” and that over these years a profound friendship was born with the outgoing President.
A moment of amenity was not lacking, in which the Pontiff indicated that he fears “how much he [Cardinal Bagnasco] will make me pay next Saturday to enter Genoa, because the Genoese . . . (laughs) “thus alluding to the stereotype that they are very attentive to money).
Up to now, the CEI’s President was elected directly by the Pope in as much as Primate of the Church in Italy. Instead, the Holy Father wants participation in the election. So they came to the idea that the Bishops should choose a list of three candidates and the Pope will choose among the three the next President of the Bishops.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, after Cardinal Bagnasco’s report, the Assembly will proceed to elect, by electronic vote, the list of three candidates which will be given to Francis, and it will debate the main subject of the meeting, which is: “Young People for An Encounter of Faith.”
On Wednesday morning, the Bishops will celebrate Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, and at noon on Thursday the conclusive press conference will be held in the atrium of Paul VI Hall.