Pedro Gabriel is back with another interview about Amoris Laetitia,  Pope Francis’s landmark 2016 document on marriage and the family. This time his guest is papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, whose book Wounded Shepherd  chronicles the 2014-2016 synodal process leading to the promulgation of the document and the debates and controversies before, during, and after the process.

Pedro and Austen discuss the history of synodality in the early Church and the revival of the Synod of Bishops by Pope Paul VI following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). They also discuss the Synod on the Family convened under Pope John Paul II in 1980, the issues it addressed, and the developments in society in the ensuing years. Ivereigh also described how under Francis, the synods became much more open places for dialogue and debate than they had under his two predecessors. Under Popes Benedict and John Paul II, he said that the curia and Vatican officials kept a tight grip on the proceedings, quoting a bishop who gave the analogy that these gatherings were like being on “a transatlantic flight but without the movies — you were stuck in the same seat uh for three weeks, listening to pre-prepared speeches that just repeated the same old points.” Putting it in other words, he explained “that the Synod had ceased to be — or had not become — a genuine mechanism of ecclesial discernment.”

I won’t spoil the rest of the video, but it’s well worth watching for Austen Ivereigh’s insider perspective on what is so unique about Pope Francis’s approach to synodality and the “inside baseball” on how Amoris Laetitia came to be.

Visit The City and the World for the full transcript. For more from Pedro and Claire Gabriel, subscribe to their email list here and to Pedro’s YouTube channel here.

I will upload the audio to our podcast channel as soon as I get a chance.

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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

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