Dear Friends in Christ,

We’re just completing the second full week of the Synod – it began on October 7 and ends on October 28. I thought I’d have time to offer more frequent updates, but that hasn’t been the case. First of all, what is a Synod?

A Synod is a gathering of Bishops, in this case an international Synod called by the Pope to consider the call to a New Evangelization. There are about 264 Bishops and Cardinals here from all over the world – the Synod fathers and the ones who actually vote on the final proposals – as well as 45 “experts” and 49 “observers.” The experts are mostly theologians (I’m classified here as an expert) and the observers are mostly representing different expressions of evangelization and new movements. Experts work to help draft documents, participate in discussions and advise bishops, but aren’t able to speak. The observers are able to speak for four minutes to share about their movements or their evangelization experience. Deacon Zoli Kunszabo, our country coordinator from Hungary, is here as an observer and gave a very fine sharing on the importance of the basic Gospel message which was well received.

The Holy Father is attending about one-third of the sessions. He doesn’t say anything but he does listen attentively. Since the last time I’ve seen him, he has definitely become frailer and is walking now with the help of a cane.

The sessions run from 9-12:30 each morning – including Saturdays – and from 4:30 (sometimes 3:30 for the experts) until 7:00 in the evening. Many nights and early mornings, I have had writing assignments and I’ve been pretty tired at the end of the day. I’ve also given a number of talks here in Rome to various groups and done a number of interviews. We also had a special reception co-sponsored by the Angelicum University and Sacred Heart Major Seminary where we presented our degree programs in evangelization to Synod fathers and other interested guests. Maybe about sixty people overall attended this event. The seminary also had shipped over here a good quantity of my new book, Will Many Be Saved: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization, which I’ve been able to give to a number of the Synod fathers and others as well.

It’s wonderful to hear from Bishops from all over the world. The picture that is emerging is that the Church all over the world is significantly challenged, by the growing influence of secularism, the pressure from Islam, and the rise of Evangelical/Pentecostal churches that are attracting many Catholics. Another thing that is emerging is that the Church is about to commit itself very seriously to the call to the new evangelization.

There is still some confusion here about what exactly this is, how to correlate inter-religious dialogue and the preaching of the Gospel, and other issues as well, but I’m sure the Holy Spirit will bring something very good out of all this.

The end result of the Synod is to present a number of “propositions” to the Pope for him to take into account in writing a “Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the New Evangelization.” This probably won’t happen for at least a year. It just takes that long here in Rome!

When the Synod ends next weekend, I’ll try to write more. I am looking forward to getting back home on October 30 but realize what a privilege it is to be present for all this. I’ve been asked to even work this Sunday (!) and miss the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekawitha in order to help complete the propositions. I’ve also been asked to be the final editor for the propositions, all of which will be put into English before being translated into Latin.

If you’d like a quick update on what the New Evangelization is all about, just go to the “Free Resources” page on our web site where we have posted some articles I’ve written on this topic.

Please continue to pray for me that I may be docile to the Holy Spirit and obedient to His leadings.

Your brother in Christ,


Ralph Martin


Renewal Ministries