BTW, sorry for posting this late. The Internet where I am staying is absolutely terrible, especially in the evening. I'll be trying to do posts in the morning before leaving for the working sessions of the Synod. Now back to our regular scheduled post...
According to the schedule we've been given, the general meetings of all synod participants with the Pope are called "General Congregations". We had our first General Congregation this afternoon.
The Synod organizers have arranged buses to take us to Paul VI Hall where the Synod is taking place. That said, it is only a 10-minute walk, Bishop Lionel Gendron and I decided just to walk it. We had to cross a small line of demonstrators at one point, who were protesting that there were not enough women included in the Synod. They were boisterous but not obnoxious, getting their point across without being aggressive. That's fine by me.
As we got to the Synod hall, the Pope was on hand at the entrance, greeting us one by one as we entered. I introduced myself as a bishop from Canada, but we did not exactly have a lot of time to chat -- it was a pretty long line! I then headed up to the Synod hall.
This afternoon was basically a series of speeches by the Synod leaders. First was Pope Francis:
Then came commentary from the Secretary-General of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri (seated to the right of the Pope, or to his left in the picture). Cardinal Sergio da Rocha was next:
These pics were taken from my assigned seat, I should add. This is exactly the view I have day after day.
We also had a chance to hear an initial intervention from one of the Synod auditors, who spoke very well about her experience as a young Catholic.
With the speeches over, we proceeded to the election of members of the Information Commission for the Synod. The list of members (along with a nice pic) can be found over at Vatican News.
That concluded our business for the day. A brisk walk home was followed by supper and a chance to unwind. Tomorrow will be a big day!
Pray for us!