Vatican Reveals Details of the Synod which the Pope Explained is a Listening Process that Involves Prayer - VIDEO

The Synod's 35 working groups, or 'circuli minores,' (with about 8-12 people) began their work on Thursday, October 5th, explained Paolo Ruffini, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, who is serving as President of the Commission for Information, whose members will be elected on 9 October. Vatican News reports that he spoke to journalists accredited to the Holy See in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The first part, which will form the root of synod discussions from October 4–7th, is entitled “For a Synodal Church: An Integral Experience” and has two related topics: “The characteristic signs of a synodal Church” and “A way forward for the synodal Church: conversation in the Spirit.”

In the working groups, he explained, the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other better by introducing themselves, and sharing their own experiences of synodality, and reflecting on what struck them from the others' reflections. During the meeting with the press, Dr. Ruffini also explained various aspects of the Synod's methodology.

Pope Francis, the Prefect highlighted, already on Wednesday provided the outline for this initial phase of the Synod's work in his address to the first General Congregation, namely giving a priority to listening, "fasting" from speaking (especially publicly), mutual acquaintance, discernment, and respect for confidentiality. And so, the universal Catholic Church, in these four weeks of assembly at the Vatican, takes a "pause."
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This time of quiet, respectful listening, as desired by the Pope, said Dr. Ruffini, "can help the world on other fronts as well: the war, the climate crisis, to stop, to listen to one another."
The Prefect recalled the Pope's words of gratitude to many journalists who will be engaged this month in the work of covering the Synod and his encouragement to recognize the value of profound listening.
Biblical and Gospel-rooted 'silence'
The "news," said the Prefect, is just that, namely a "suspension of time," a "silence" that allows for listening and discernment, as we see in the Bible and Gospel.
"The way in which an institution as great as the Church, allows itself a moment of silence in faith, in communion, in prayer is news," Dr. Ruffini said during the briefing in the Holy See Press Office, the first of daily appointments with international media.
He also told journalists that press conferences will be held at the end of each module of the assembly with Synod participants.
“The way in which an institution as great as the Church allows itself a moment of silence in faith, in communion, in prayer is news”
Process of the working groups ('circuli minores')
Together with Sheila Pires, Secretary of the Commission for Information and Communications Officer of the South African Bishops' Conference, Dr. Ruffini explained - with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation - how, on a technical and methodological level, the work of the 35 Working Groups has been and will be carried out as they gather in their respective languages tables.
Currently at the center of the reflection is Section A of the Instrumentum laboris, concerning "the characteristic signs of a synodal Church" and "conversation in the Spirit."
It represents an early stage of the Synod, so more sensitive issues listed in the same working document, and mentioned by the Pope himself, have not yet entered into the discussions on the first day of the Circles.
In the four minutes allotted to each participant, the first step was to introduce oneself, then to share the path taken by one's own Church in the first phase of the synodal path (the consultative one), "how it started, how it evolved, the difficulties encountered, the relationship between the local Church and the universal Church."
A "rapporteur" was then elected for each working group to gather the different experiences and instances and to present them to the assembly following discussion within the group. This person, elected by majority vote, drafts the report, and "will report convergences, divergences, ideas that came up," said Dr. Ruffini.
Along with this, "anyone can speak in General Congregation and send their text to the Secretariat of the Synod," the Prefect explained, stressing that "there is a lot of freedom," that the atmosphere is one of "serene sharing," and that everyone is having a profound "spiritual experience."
He added that the experience has thus far been above all one of "communion."
"It is not important what this or that participant says, but what the Church decides in its spirit of communion," he said. "It is a complex process but it ensures that everyone can put their own points of view."
As Pope Francis has always said, the Synod is a process, all the more so this one on synodality that will continue into 2024.
"Let's try to go step by step," urged the President of the Commission for Information, trying to make it clear that it is the very methodology of the Synod which requires a step-by-step journey.
"This is not a deliberative Synod. We are in the middle, so you cannot ask this Assembly to foreshadow the end of the next Assembly."
The final report that will be formulated at the end of October, he went on to say, will include "convergences and divergences" but still represent not a point of arrival but "a path that we are taking."

"It will therefore be something more like an Instrumentum laboris than the final document of past Synods," Dr. Ruffini stressed.
Source: Vatican News - with Screenshot