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'Secret' synod proposals go to Pope

In secret proposals to the pope, the Synod of Bishops has called for regular dialogue between representatives of bishops' conferences and the Roman curia, greater respect for the conferences, and a special synod to discuss reform of the synod itself.

The National Catholic Reporter in the US reports that the assembly stopped short of endorsing the much-debated concept of subsidiarity, the idea that decisions should be made at lower levels of authority where possible. In the end, the synod called subsidiarity an "ambiguous" idea that may be in conflict with the powers of the pope as outlined by the Second Vatican Council.

These propositions have no legal force, since the synod is an advisory body. They are supposed to remain confidential in order to protect the pope's freedom of action. The Italian news agency Adista, however, obtained the propositions.

The synod released a final public message condemning terrorism before it ended a week ago. But it was the final long and complex list of propositions that generated the most interest. Some were uncontroversial, but others which dealt with the relationship between Rome and the local churches aroused the greatest curiosity among synod observers.

They call for "more profound theological consideration of the principle of communion", greater respect for the rights of Eastern Catholic churches, and meetings between bishops and representatives of bishops conferences and members of the Roman curia.

The proposition was born amid complaints in the synod that the curia is sometimes ill-informed or insensitive to local problems, though the language was amended to make it clear that these discussions could focus on matters that "concern either side."