The other Debating Hall – The Synod of Bishops on the Word of God

While the debate on the abortion bill continues here in Victoria, we ought not lose sight of the important event in the Vatican at this time, the 12th Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.

There, Bernie-Finn-style filibustering is totally out of order – in fact, each bishop gets to make a 5-minute intervention – and his microphone is turned off exactly at the 5 minute mark!

There are some interesting things already coming out of this, such as Rabbi Cohen’s comments about Pius XII’s WWII record in the memory of the Jewish people (today is both Yom Kippur and the 50th anniversary of the late pontiff’s death – a separate blog about this in a minute), but also the fact that (HT to Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia) this is the first meeting to have a blogging-bishop participant!

Yes, folks, you can get an insider’s perspective by going to the World Synod of Bishops blog belonging to Tucson Arizona Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas. Here’s a taste:

I found my seat — section II, row G, seat 14 — right in the center of the hall. The guidelines for the Synod are most interesting. They state that delegates are expected to be at every session no matter what. If you want to be excused, you need to see the General Secretary and you have to state your excuse. (I think we might have to introduce that note for our priest and vicariate gatherings.) The message was clear: presence matters.

(I have been wondering how many members of the Legislative Council have sat out the full 4.5 hours of Bernie’s filibustering!).

Interestingly, he came across our own Bishop Michael Putney:

Bishop Michael Ernest Putney of Townsville in Australia talked with me about the importance of preparing our lectors to proclaim the Word effectively. He told me about a young man who was an actor who proclaimed the Word so eloquently at Mass that people listened more attentively than usual. People thought his eloquence was because of his acting ability, but in talking with him afterward, the young man said that in preparing himself to proclaim God’s Word as a lector that he fasts. That is what made his proclamation so engaging. He was living the Word he read.

For those who like their reporting a little more conventional, there is always John L. Allen Jnr.

Also providing an insiders look at the Synod is Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the Vatican’s English-language press attaché for the 2008 world Synod of Bishops. His reports are being covered by Zenit as the “Synod Diary” in their daily issue (the first three can be found here (Day One), here (Day two), and here (Day Three). A funny story about the technology glitches at the beginning:

Yesterday and today the synod fathers tried out the newly installed electronic voting machines, which revealed a number of glitches that need to be ironed out. The malfunctions gave way to much humor in the assembly as the audience was told several times by some unseen voice booming through the sound system: “Those on the left (sinistra) are not voting properly.” Or, “the patriarchs are not registering.”

Even the Pope seemed to enjoy the humorous moments as he watched his brother bishops from throughout the entire world attempt to use the “new technology” that wasn’t delivering!

Well, funny by Synod of Bishop’s standard!

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