Inside the Vatican Synod on Family: Where Are the Votes on the Final Document? (Day 12-14)

Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher at the Vatican Synod on Family on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. | (Courtesy Thomas Schirrmacher)

Editor's note: The Christian Post has arranged with noted evangelical Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, an expert on and friend of The Catholic Church, to provide exclusive and rare coverage of the World Synod of the Catholic Church scheduled for October 3-24.

This Vatican Synod is generating great interest among Catholics and Evangelicals alike as Pope Francis continues to make overtures for increased cooperation with Evangelicals to protect religious freedom in a world of increased persecution of Christians.

Schirrmacher is president of the International Council of the International Society for Human Rights und Ambassador for Human Rights and executive chair of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, the largest evangelical association in the world.

Only one evangelical was invited to this year's three-week Synod: Dr. Schirrmacher. Below is his exclusive CP blog post from this historic meeting:

October 16, 2015

The synod is on time. Because of discipline in timing of the three minutes speeches and interventions we even will have a unexpected free Saturday afternoon, which led to a big applause.

Out of the 270 "synod fathers," 146 choose to speak and one to write. Then there were several small sessions of one hour in the evenings, 6 to 9 pm, for free interventions of 4 minutes each, on average, 12 speakers per evening. Virtually all of those had given an intervention already, some spoke three to four times. That leaves more than 100 synod fathers that choose not to speak.

Delegates choose to speak on the three chapters of the text for discussion (Latin: "Instrumentum labor" = tool to work with) more or less evenly, the first describing the present world of families globally ("see"), the second summarizing the church's teaching ("evaluate") and the third discussing the pastoral application ("act").

Yet the lowest attendance was 256, the highest 266. That is far more than in normal synods or state parliaments.

We are now in the middle of the three minute interventions of the experts, auditors and fraternal delegates. As we had three of the sixteen couples presenting their life story already, that leaves 13 of them. They split the 3 minutes among them as they wish, so far the wife started with the longer part and the husbands just added some final words to it.

Beside the plenaries we spent approximately 27 hours in 13 small group discussions according to languages.

The groups produced one two-page report per chapter, which were read in the plenary. That is 39 altogether!

The groups proposed in the average 50 changes to the text (from changing words to exchanging or adding long paragraphs), called "modus," or "modi" for the plural, in Latin. That is far more than 500. The text of those modi taken altogether is longer than the original text.

Back to the 146 interventions. It is impossible to give any numbers according to any positions.

I would say that there were three groups overall: one third were on the middle ground, or the interventions did not touch "hot" topics; one third leaned to the "no changes" side; and one third leaned to the side called "progressive" here or "liberal" in the media, the latter term being both a wrong description and not loved by any of the progressives.

It is not possible to give any hint where the majority for certain topics lies. (And do not forget: it could be that people vote against the final document for other reasons than that it does not reflect there position, e.g. that they think the language is not good enough, a feeling that all sides have so far.)

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