We don't get Saturday off at the Synod, so our small group was hard at work as of 9 am this morning. The discussions are meant to be confidential, and I want to respect that, but I must say I am super impressed with the young adults who are part of our group. They are officially known as "auditors" (meaning "hearers") but they also have the chance to speak when recognized by the Moderator. Our Moderator is very open to giving everyone a chance to intervene, and I must say these young adults are proving to be articulate and insightful. I'm delighted they are with us.
During the break I thought I'd take a few photos of the inside of the Synod Hall, so you can we where (and how) we work. Here is the podium from which the Pope and other co-chairs lead the discussions:
These next photos show the three sections of seats where the Synod Fathers and other participants sit:
My seat is in the far left section, 8 rows up, 3 seats in from the aisle dividing the two sections. You can see the translation booths behind the windows in the upper left.
This is the far right section:
There are no windows on the upper portion, as it is actually used as a choir loft for our times of prayer. Behind it is a kind of viewing gallery for media and other observers who are not part of the Synod itself.
Here is the centre portion:
I took this one from behind the Pope's podium. Shhh, don't tell anyone!
We are seated according to an old tradition called "precedence". This means cardinals up front, with archbishops behind, followed by diocesan bishops, auxiliary bishops, and then priests. People who are not "synod fathers" sit behind those just mentioned. This is why I am 8 rows back -- as an auxiliary, I don't get to sit up front. This really isn't a hardship, mind you. Because I am further back, it is easier for me to get up and walk around, grab a drink of water, etc. The poor cardinals up front have to just sit and behave themselves.
And speaking of behaving themselves, because of the "precedence" thing the young adults who are "auditing" the synod are all sitting in a group up in the back of my section. They are awesome! They listen respectfully, but they clap and cheer and bring energy whenever a speech has particularly struck a chord. I enjoy getting up at breaks and chatting with them.
Speaking of speeches, those are done from where we sit. The wide armrests contain a microphone and sound controls:
In other words, when it is our turn to speak, we do not need to waste time getting up and going to a central podium. All can be done from our seat. There are also earpieces connected to the sound controls (not in the picture) which give access to simultaneous translation into English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese. It is a broad enough selection that everyone can understand what is being said while still being able to speak our own language.