By ITV staff

The October assembly in the Paul VI Hall with the small groups, also called Circuli Minores at work.

The first of two parts in the final stage of the Catholic Church’s 2021-24 Synod on Synodality has just been completed.

Reactions around the world, both throughout the two years since the Synod was announced and now that the first half of its final stage has been completed, have been mixed.

One feature that all can agree upon, however, is the element of novelty in this Synod: almost nothing about it, from the composition of the delegates to its procedure and duration, from its stated purpose to the topics actually discussed – even its venue – is like any Synod which has preceded it.

We begin our coverage with a quick overview from Catholic News Service identifying the structure, purpose and procedure of this Synod on Synodality.

“Small groups around round tables”

Describing even the arrangement of the synod – which was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall, rather than the customary synod hall, to accommodate the round table arrangement – the report stated that this physical arrangement was highly significant. The passage is particularly key for understanding the concept of the new, democratic style of life proposed by the Synod on Synodality:

“The very way the Assembly was conducted, starting with the arrangement of people seated in small groups around round tables in the Paul VI Hall, comparable to the biblical image of the wedding banquet (Rev. 19:9), is emblematic of a synodal Church and an image of the Eucharist, the source and summit of synodality, with the Word of God at its center. Within it, different cultures, languages, rites, ways of thinking and realities can engage together and fruitfully in a sincere search under the guidance of the Spirit. (Passed by 339 – 5)

“The entire journey, rooted in the Tradition of the Church, is taking place in the light of the conciliar magisterium,” noted the opening message at the start of the report.

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