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Letter from Rome

With his latest Synod assembly, the pope has taken another step in reforming the church
Letter from Rome

Pope Francis celebrates a closing Mass at the end of the Synod of Bishops at the St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican on Oct. 28. (Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP)

The XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment came to end on the weekend and, no matter what the final document contains, one can already begin to draw up a balance sheet of what has emerged over its 25 days of meetings and events.

The critics of Pope Francis were already skeptical before the Oct. 3-28 gathering at the Vatican even started. And as the sessions unfolded over the course of these past few weeks, they have dismissed much of the deliberations as amounting to little more than a farce.

Some of them have accused the pope — who is the president of the Synod — and his top aides in the Synod's general secretariat of "rigging" the assembly on youth, just as they denounced Francis and his supporters for "fixing" the procedures and outcome of the other two assemblies (on marriage and the family) that have taken place in his pontificate.

Even Francis loyalists like India's Cardinal Oswald Gracias, a member of the pope's C9 council of advisors, have raised questions over the process that's been followed — or ignored — in this latest Synod assembly. (We'll get to that in a moment.)

But, as was argued here last week, the gathering has been "but a single step on a much longer and transformative journey," marking "yet another necessary juncture on the road towards radically reforming structures of ecclesial governance and effecting a 'conversion' of the papacy itself."

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So, what are the early results of this latest episcopal summit in Rome?

 

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