With 464 participants, the next Synod, which begins on October 4th, is likely to be one of the busiest ever. So much so that the venue had to be moved from the so-called Synod Hall to the Paul VI Hall, the one used for the Pope’s audiences.
Those who will be in the Synod Hall have very diverse backgrounds. But when the first provisional list was published by the Holy See Press Office, Italian journalists were the first to point out the most surprising name on the list: Luca Casarini, an Italian layman, one of the special guests personally chosen by Pope Francis. “Here are some groups of people dedicated to rescuing people by boat. I invited one of them, the director of Mediterranea Saving Humans, to the Synod. They tell you terrible stories,” said Pope Francis on September 23rd, during the interview on the papal flight back from Marseille, referring to Mr Casarini.
Casarini himself was probably the first to be surprised by the Pope’s invitation. In an interview this July with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, he said he stopped going to church when he was 12. Nothing strange, as it has often happened to many Italians. But if the Synod on Synodality is intended to sketch the profile of the Church of the future, as its promoters have so often said, the question is: what contribution will Casarini be able to make to the Synod, speaking about something he does not know and has no experience of?
Casarini, to be fair, said in the interview quoted above that he felt he was “the last of the last” and is going to the Synod “to listen, not to teach”. But the fact that there is also a chair for someone with such a questionable personal history remains surprising, to say the least.
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