Everyday at the Synod of Bishops, journalists are offered but one opportunity to observe the participants when they're gathered in Paul VI Hall. Accredited media are told to arrive outside the aula
at 8:30 AM. Then we wait for twenty minutes before being herded upstairs into the auditorium. A reporter is left no time to conduct interviews before the 9 AM session begins; maybe he can schedule a later appointment if the right bishop walks his way. As such, the media pool is better attended by cameramen who can quickly snap their daily images of Pope Benedict.
Still, several journalists can be expected to attend each morning. I'm certain I'm not the only one who has done so simply for the opportunity to pray with the synod fathers.
The Liturgy of the Hours is recited in Latin, of course, with a different bishop providing a brief reflection. The prayerful atmosphere was only broken once this morning: as the German bishop began his reflection, a plasticky clatter erupted as bishops broke out their translations headsets. (Germanicus,
after all, is the smallest of the synod's language-based working groups.)
Even though the Holy Father did not attend this morning (thus missing out on the reading of the synod's concluding message
), the atmosphere was noticeably jovial. With an end to the three-week synod now two days away, the Bishops were chatty with the journalists beforehand and some even gave us the thumbs-up as they entered the hall.