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Although some ambiguities remain to be clarified as this issue of LETTERS FROM THE SYNOD gets put to bed, it now seems as if Synod-2018’s draft final document will be voted on paragraph by paragraph, after which the amended really-final-document will be subject to another vote, with a two-thirds threshold for approval. This begins to resolve one of the question marks that was hovering over the Synod’s end-game, causing considerable concern late last week and over the weekend: Would the Synod fathers be able to make their judgments known by multiple votes, as in the past? The anxiety on this point reflected some recent history.
Veterans of these exercises will remember that, prior to Synod-2015, it was also unclear whether the traditional way for the bishops to manifest their judgments—votes on the Synod’s draft final report, paragraph by paragraph—would be utilized. The issue was resolved in favor of paragraph-by-paragraph votes (each paragraph requiring a two-thirds majority for inclusion in the final report), thanks to an appeal to Pope Francis by thirteen senior cardinals whose request for votes the pope honored.
Synod - Constitution - Episcopalis - Communio - Episcopal
Now, however, the Synod is governed by a new apostolic constitution, Episcopalis Communio (Episcopal Communion), which was issued last month. While attempting to give the Synod more magisterial gravitas, Episcopalis Communio also muddied the procedural waters. And that murkiness was, at first blush, not resolved by examining Synod-2018’s procedural “Instructions” (available only in Italian, be it noted).
The apostolic constitution makes no provisions for voting, or none that anyone can discern. Rather, Episcopalis Communio decrees that the Synod General Secretary, in this case Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, is to try to get “moral unanimity insofar as this is possible” on a draft final report, which is first constructed by a commission elected by the Synod fathers (one member is chosen from each continental group,...
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