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 9, 2015
The Pope started the day spontaneously, even before the morning prayer, by remembering the Christians in the Middle East, those who are martyred and those who have fled and those who have stayed.
After the morning prayer, the plenary, which have not met for two days, heard the reports of the 13 small language groups, whose results were read and afterwards published. This is new for the Synod. Previously the reports went to a team that edited the texts and only they knew what other groups had decided. This time everything is available to all delegates and even the wider public. Step by step, Pope Francis is moving the Synod toward a real discussion in which every Synod father has to play a role.
Some of the small groups were still quite soft in their statements and critiques of the existing texts. The major criticism coming from most of the groups, was and is, that the approach to family is too negative. Always the church should start with the fact that millions and millions of couples love each other, parents work hard for their children, and that a lot of things are improving, e.g. the number of children starving is in decline and the number of educated girls is on the rise. Together, with the blessing God has given upon marriage and love, only then may the problems be researched and stated.
The rest of the day the second of three parts of the existing document will be discussed, which contains the church's teaching on marriage and family. Tomorrow it will be the right time to discuss the issue that while Evangelicals and Catholics can agree in a common fight for marriage and family, yet there is one specific teaching of the Catholic Church, the sacraments, which creates most of the difficult questions for the synod.
Note: For the photos today I have chosen some photos I took when walking with Pope Francis. It shows that he comes earlier, stays in the pauses and speaks to everyone around. Even though there are two official photographers, no one stops one from taking private photos. What a difference to the Synod of 2012.