VATICAN CITY — The Synod of Bishops for the Middle East has hit the crunch point.
This morning, the 185 voting members were given the first draft of the “propositions” in Arabic, French, English and Italian. The final proposals will be given to Pope Benedict XVI as suggestions for use in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation.
There are 41 different proposals in the first draft; they are the result of a multilingual committee sifting through and consolidating the 194 propositions submitted by the small working groups.
The fact that the committee worked until 2 a.m. on putting the list together and translating each proposal means they have to be forgiven for missing a few things — even if they’re big things — said Maronite Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayah of Haifa, Israel.
Winnowing through 194 ideas submitted in either French, Arabic or English and translating them all into four languages overnight is a great achievement, “so we can be lenient,” the archbishop said.
The first thing his small group did this morning, he said, was list the items that inadvertently got left out. Surprisingly, because so many synod members mentioned them as essential to the church’s work and mission, Catholic schools were not the topic of one of the 41 draft proposals. Also missing, he said, were references to young people and youth ministry, to laity in general and to the social work and medical care offered by the church in the region.
The bishops are back in their small groups working on amendments to the 41 proposals. They are scheduled to vote Saturday on the final version to give to Pope Benedict.
Then the real work begins, Archbishop Sayah told reporters at a briefing today. “Ultimately what matters is what we bring to our people and how it impacts their lives day to day.”