Pope fine-tuning October Synod

The working document for an October meeting of the Synod of Bishops is nearly complete, and will be presented to the public in "two or three weeks" according to a Vatican official.

Catholic World News reports that the instrumentum laboris (or working paper), which will form the basis for discussion when the Synod of Bishops convenes in Rome on 2 October, will be available in time to give participating bishops ample time to prepare for the meeting, the official observed.

The Synod of Bishops will discuss the theme: "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."

Preparations for the Synod meeting were temporarily interrupted by the death of Pope John Paul II, due to the fact that a Synod meeting and its topic must be approved by the reigning Pontiff. Last Thursday, Pope Benedict quickly confirmed the existing plans, including the chosen theme of the meeting and the officers of the Synod, who had been named by Pope John Paul.

Pope Benedict did make one significant change in the Synod plans, shortening the duration of the assembly. The bishops will meet from 2 to 23 October - rather than until 29 October, as earlier planned. One official at the office of the Synod suggested that in changing the dates, the Pope probably wished to minimise the time that bishops would need to spend away from their own dioceses.

The instrumentum laboris is the final preparatory document for the Synod meeting. Earlier the Vatican circulated the lineamenta, an earlier draft that suggests the broad lines of possible discussion. After the circulation of the lineamenta among the world's bishops, the instrumentum laboris is prepared on the basis of their comments and suggestions.

The October meeting will be the 11th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops since these meetings were begun under Pope Paul VI in 1975. This will be the first Synod meeting of the current pontificate.

Synod working document near completion (Catholic World News 17/5/05)

Synod of Bishops

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18 May 2005