Edward Pentin has a very interesting post Synod interview with Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sidney, Australia:
Was there a problem with translations of the final document?
Some of the organizers seemed to resent that at least half the synod fathers and nearly all the auditors did not speak Italian. But the fact is that less than 1% of the world’s population speaks Italian.
If the Church is to have truly international meetings, it has to improve its act linguistically and ensure everyone gets the texts in the several official languages of the meeting. That did not happen at this synod. There were other problems with the timetable and synod rules that also left some feeling manipulated.
It’s very difficult to vote on a paragraph just by hearing it through the interpreter, isn’t it?
Yes, it was read so fast the translators struggled to keep up, and the fathers could not take notes in their own language. So we were not always sure what we were being asked to vote Yes or No to.
Any serious international meeting today ensures the delegates get the texts in front of them in the official languages. If the U.N. or trade organizations can do it, so can the Church. …
I recognize, of course, that the Vatican has a small staff compared to many international organizations. But if we are going to invest in the travel, accommodation and time of 300 or so Church leaders and advisers for a whole month, the cost of professional translation would be small by comparison.
How influential and how representative do you think the youth auditors were?
We had a group of 36 young people present throughout. They were delightful. They were lovely to talk to informally, and they were not backward in coming forward in the general assemblies and the small-group discussions. Most of them were very idealistic. It really added to the whole process, having them around. But at times I felt they hunted in a pack: They would clap and cheer and whoop comments that played to a very particular script. Some said the young people were being coached to promote certain viewpoints — I don’t know about that. But one of the most international of the synod fathers observed that there seemed to be no or few young people of a more “classical disposition” (his words) present to speak for that point of view and that this made the young auditors not entirely representative of their generation.
Did you sense that people who were advocating more tradition and orthodoxy, like the Africans, were shut down, perhaps?
No, I don’t think it was just the more traditionally minded who were shut down: We all were. The fact was that after our initial short speeches, it was almost impossible for bishops to get a hearing again in the general assembly.
Even in the free discussions?
The free discussions were very few, usually in the last hour of a very long day. On at least one occasion, that time was taken up almost completely by speeches from ecumenical representatives. On other days, various announcements intruded. And when free discussion did happen, only cardinals and youth auditors were heard; no bishops at all. You got your little speech at the start, and that was about it, when it came to the general assembly.
How was it that so much material on “synodality” got into the final document?
Well, it wasn’t in the working document, it wasn’t in the general assembly discussions, it wasn’t in the language-group discussions, in wasn’t in the reports from the small groups — it just appeared, as if from nowhere, in the draft final document.
There was some pushback from the synod fathers against this obvious manipulation. It meant some voted against the synodality paragraphs, not because they disagreed with them, but because they disagreed with these ill-fitting paragraphs being intruded so late in the process for no good reason.
Go here to read the rest. In this Pontificate synod is spelled r-i-g-g-e-d.