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Synod: no German-speaking language group planned


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 09/12/23

Breaking precedent, German will not be one of the official languages of the synod, as German speakers generally speak other official languages. Aim is so these participants "not just to talk to each other."

At a press conference held in Rome on September 8, 2023, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Paolo Ruffini, announced that, unlike in previous Synods, there would be no German-speaking language group at the forthcoming Synod on the Future of the Church, which formally begins on October 4.

As president of the Synod’s information commission, he also made a point of insisting that he wished to “facilitate” the work of journalists, a few days after the Pope announced that the public would not have open access to all the participants and events of the Synod.

At the press conference, it was announced that the official languages of the Synod will be Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. German, which has been used at all previous synods (excluding regional synods, such as the one on Amazonia in 2019), is not on the list.

The aim, explained Paolo Ruffini, is for the German-speaking participants — from Germany, Austria and Switzerland — “not just to talk to each other.”

“Knowing that they also speak other languages, they will, we believe, be able to carry their group viewpoint into other languages,” he continued.

This doesn’t just refer to the Germans, because the general desire, insisted the Italian layman, is for participants to “circulate” within the synod, so as not to remain confined to their language group. He clarified, however, that live translation into and from German would be available for German speakers during the general congregations.

Openings for journalists

As Pope Francis stated on his return flight from Mongolia, not all events will be open to the public. For the time being, only the inaugural Mass on October 4 and the first general congregation will be streamed. Briefings and press conferences are then scheduled throughout the synod, and, at the end of the synod, the summary document will be published.

“The preservation of the confidentiality, intimacy and, I would even say, sacredness of certain spaces for conversation in the Spirit, is consubstantial with the desire to make these moments a genuine opportunity for listening, discernment and prayer based on communion,” explained Ruffini.

It’s a question of preserving “these precious, indispensable moments of free and protected exchange, where common thought is built up.”

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, announced that there would probably be “access” for journalists to Paul VI Hall, where the main synod meetings will be held. He explained that further meetings would be held to clarify the situation.

For his part, Ruffini assured that his aim was to “facilitate” the work of journalists.

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