Inside the Vatican Synod on Family: An Expert Evangelical's View as a Fraternal Delegate (Day 1)

Editor's note: The Christian Post has arranged with noted evangelical Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, an expert on and friend of The Catholic Church, to provide exclusive and rare coverage of the World Synod of the Catholic Church scheduled for October 3-24.

This Vatican Synod is generating great interest among Catholics and Evangelicals alike as Pope Francis continues to make overtures for increased cooperation with Evangelicals to protect religious freedom in a world of increased persecution of Christians.

Schirrmacher is president of the International Council of the International Society for Human Rights und Ambassador for Human Rights and executive chair of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, the largest evangelical association in the world.

Only one evangelical was invited to this year's three-week Synod: Dr. Schirrmacher. Below is his exclusive CP blog post from this historic meeting:

thomas schirrmacher vatican synod
The Vatican Synod 2012 with the fraternal delegates. |
vatican synod and thomas schirrmacher
Some of the fraternal delegates at the Vatican Synod of 2012. |
pope francis and thomas schirrmacher
Pope Francis and Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher in a private photo. |
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October, 3, 2015

It is the Saturday before the official opening of the Vatican Synod on Family with a mass in St. Peter's Cathedral. So most delegates arrive today. The the so-called fraternal delegates stay in the Comunitá San Pietro Canisio, where Jesuits' stay during their time in Rome. It is only three minutes walking distance from the Vatican and two minutes from the office of the Pontifical Council for Propagating Christian Unity, that hosts the fraternal delegates.

Fraternal delegates have nearly all right of Catholic delegates with the exception of voting rights. They can apply to speak for three minutes in the discussions (as all others), take part in the small group discussions, the language groups, and there is really nothing hidden from them. The fraternal delegates sit in the 4th and 5th row of 25 rows in the left block and thus have a better seating than most archbishops and bishops, only Cardinals and members of the Curia sit up front. It is amazing how open the Vatican handles the fraternal delegates, whose role thus is much different from typical 'observers' from other churches and denominations visiting international church gatherings or conferences.

Tomorrow at 9 am the ten fraternal delegates will be taken through the masses of people here in Rome to special seating near the altar and the Pope and besides the Catholic delegates, who all will be dressed alike. The Pope's sermon could be a first signal where he is heading with the synod.

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