Pope Francis will make the short journey on Monday to the Ergife Palace Hotel in Rome, where he will open the 74th General Assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI). The Pope’s message to the Italian bishops will be broadcast live by Vatican Media.
A Synodal Journey
The theme of this year’s General Assembly is “Proclaiming the Gospel in a time of rebirth – setting out on a synodal journey.”
The idea for a national synod was discussed by the bishops during their conference in Florence in 2015, with Pope Francis and his allies lending support to the project. Earlier this year, the Pope made his expectations clear: “After five years, the Italian Church must begin the process of a national synod, community by community, diocese by diocese. In the Florence Conference there is precisely the intuition of the road to take in this synod. Now, take it up again: It is the moment. And start walking.”
Less than a month later, the Conference president Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti presented the Pope with a proposal “to give a first impulse to the synodal path in the Peninsula.”
In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Bassetti said, “We took the cue from the Pope’s invitation and prepared a draft that we submitted to the Holy Father to begin already to offer an opening to this synodal movement.”
During this week’s General Assembly, the bishops will also be electing two vice-presidents (for northern Italy and Central Italy); members of the Council for Economic Affairs; and Presidents of the Episcopal Commissions.
The bishops Conference has announced two “briefings” for journalists, in addition to a press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, where Cardinal Bassetti will present the General Assembly’s final statement. However, journalists will not be permitted to follow the actual workings of the Assembly, officially due to anti-Covid norms.