Thanks for all the get-well wishes. They worked: I'm coughing less and breathing more easily. Blessed be to God!
After day 7 which we passed in our linguistic groups discussing the 'relatio post-disceptationem', day 8 was given over to the proposed amendments of this text. Archbishop Léonard, our group's 'relator', accomplished a remarkable job in collecting the ideas we expressed on day 7 and transforming them into a considerable number of amendments. These we examined closely, nearly word by word before voting on each, one after another. Indeed, for an amendment to be accepted for consideration by the Secretariat of the Synod, it must have received two thirds of the votes in the linguistic group which is bringing it forward.
Some amendments only added a word or two. Others meant a complete rewrite of a numbered paragraph. We were able to find the words that allowed the whole group to support each of the amendments: but it's intense work, requiring a lot of listening and a lot of respect, some creative, much patience. Sometimes, a member would propose expression A, while another would propose expression B; then the discussion would get lively as we debated the value of each expression; until someone proposed expression C, to which all could give their assent. This didn't always mean seeking the 'via media' between the two expressions, but finding the new way that all could take with the conviction they had been respected and understood.
At the end of the day, our three lay couples expressed their great satisfaction, even their joy, at the conclusion of the experience we had just been through. I need to say that these men and women were all highly competent, experts in their field, experienced in the teaching of the Church and their involvement in family ministry. Such was day 8.
Day 9 was shorter than the others. We spent the morning on the small group reports. First, each group met to approve the relators' text (or modify it a bit), and then these texts were read to all in the synodal hall. These reports will all be published, and I invite you to read them to see for yourselves the fruits of the discussions we had in each of the linguistic groups, the richness of the conversation and the quality of the process.
Now the real work starts. Cardinal Erdo's team, which has been enriched with delegates from the five continents named by the Pope, must study each of the amendments (I would estimate there are at least two hundred of them) and re-write the 'relatio post-disceptationem' in order to present a 'relatio finale'. The first version of this 'relatio finale' will be presented to us Saturday morning... which is why we can rest this afternoon and tomorrow morning while the members of this special theme try to come up with a text that will gain the support of the great majority of delegates.
As for the 'message' on which I have been working as part of a small team under the leadership of Cardinal Ravasi, our original text - quite poetic and biblical - had to be shortened at the request of the Secretariate of the Synod. It has become a simpler greeting to the families of the world. However, I'm keeping all our beautiful ideas in mind for use in a homily or two in the future. No use wasting the fruit of our work!