In this final installment of the diary entries from Father Jeremy during his time with the Synod of the New Evangelization, he describes the events of the last day of the Synod. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI of his diary have also been published on the MAS journalism blog.
October 28, 2012:
My last entry was a few days ago just as the rain was to break loose. Archbishop Krutz and I hitched a ride in Cardinal Dolan's car as the rain was pounding down. The Cardinal told us that he was leaving the Synod early in order to get back to New York ahead of the hurricane.
Entering the Synod Hall I was able to meet the newly named cardinal of Manila, Archbishop Tagle. He is very nice, and he shared with me how completely surprised he was at being named a cardinal. I asked him when he had known, and he said, astonished, "Only the day before." He spoke very warmly of Benedictines and said, "I'm sure we'll see each other again."
That evening at the Synod the Holy Father was present, and they began the reading of the final version of the propositions. This continued on Saturday morning, and after that was the voting. We "experts" had no more to do, but it was good to be present in the Hall to see how all this worked. In the end there were 58 separate propositions.
As a literary form they were very much the product of bits and pieces of many small groups reworking things, so they don't sound especially smooth, but the main idea of a point to emphasize is certainly made in each one of these. These will be the basis of the eventual Apostolic Exhortation that the Pope will write, but that will take more than a year.
The voting takes place electronically with each Synod Father in his seat. The tally is taken pretty quickly and immediately announced. However, for the record, they are also to vote in writing in a booklet provided to each for this purpose. These are collected one by one as each bishop's name is called out in seniority and he answers "Adsum." This took quite awhile. The Holy Father was present again in the first half of Saturday morning.
The Synod ended today with the celebration of Mass in St. Peter's. Once again, the bishop members of the Synod and the priest advisors were concelebrants. Whereas the opening Mass was in the piazza, this Mass was in the basilica. I had a splendid placement, three rows back in the semi-circle that surrounded the high altar. The Mass was prayerful and joyful, a real sense of thanking God for the gift of the Synod.
Vesting and unvesting was an occasion to see many of the new friends made during the Synod. Archbishop Tartaglia of Glasgow sought me out in the mob to say how sorry he was that our formulation on the liturgy had not made it through the rounds of cutting and pasting propositions. We consoled each other with the thought that probably the ideas would eventually come forward in the final exhortation.
Bishop Kussala from South Sudan asked if I would help him in writing a pastoral letter to his diocese on the Eucharist. I left the scene with Archbishop Fisichella, walking toward his house with an agreement to meet one on one in the next week to share impressions of the Synod and ideas about further steps to take now.
The interview I gave for Vatican Radio was posted on their website today. I listened and was not embarrassed. Whew! You never know how you are going to sound.
I finish the Synod feeling exhausted and somehow dazed by the richness of the experience. I know slowly but surely I will be able to digest and absorb all that happened. Too tired to say anything in an eloquent way; I just want to utter my thanks to God for the opportunity to be part of this and to praise him for his beautiful bride, the Church.