Monday, October 06, 2014

In the Aula, It's Showtime

Almost a half-century since its founding in the wake of the Council, never before has a session of the Synod of Bishops been broadcast live.

That is, until today.

In a shift from the assembly's standard procedure (which has traditionally seen a small media pool brought in to witness a day's opening prayers then be quickly whisked out), the first business round of this Extraordinary Synod on the Family will air over Vatican TV from 9am Rome (3am ET; 0700 GMT) this Monday – once transmission begins, the livefeed box is below (and will be available on-demand afterward).

Though the Holy See has indicated that the morning roster will be limited to remarks from one of the three presidents-delegate (that is, the cardinals who take daily turns guiding the discussions) and a report from the Synod's Secretary-General, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri – here overseeing his first assembly – as the body's permanent President, the Pope is always free to intervene at will for as long as he wishes... and on a day like this, a Francis-turn of the kind would seem to be more conspicuous by its absence. (SVILUPPO: True to form, the Pope delivered a six-minute talk at the first session.)

Texts, etc. to come as they emerge. That said, enjoy the front-row seat while it lasts – the usual restricted appearance of a press pool will resume Tuesday for most of the remainder of the fortnight. The cameras will return, however, for next week's post-discussion recap given by Budapest's Cardinal Peter Erdö before the Synod's 253 participants break into the circuli minores, the days-long small group conversations able to delve deeper into the issues at hand.

On a related note, as part of a crackdown intended to keep the discussions frank but discreet, what's long been the most extensive glimpse into the hall – the daily release of summaries of the talks given by each prelate and observer – is being replaced by general briefings from the Holy See Press Office, aided by a social media outreach.