In keeping with his usual tradition on papal trips, Pope Francis held an in-flight press conference on his way back to Rome, in which he opened up about the debate surrounding last month’s Synod of Bishops. “The Synod is a path, it is a journey, firstly. Secondly the synod is not a Parliament. It’s a protected space in which the Holy Spirit may speak,” the Roman Pontiff told journalists on his Nov. 30 flight back from Turkey. His response was given to a question posed by Patricia Thomas of The Associated Press, who asked about the synod midterm report’s controversial phrasing regarding persons with homosexual orientation. The 46 minute in-flight press conference took place on the Pope’s way back from a three-day trip to Ankara and Istanbul, which focused heavily on ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox churches. In his answer to the question, the pontiff recalled how during the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary synod of bishops on the family, a press conference was given each day with both Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi and a selection of the synod participants who spoke about what was said that day. While there were some “contrasting things” due to differing opinions, everything was summed up in the midterm report, the pontiff observed, recounting how that “working draft” was then given to small groups who worked in four languages: English, Spanish, Italian and French. All of the groups’ contributions were made public, the pontiff explained, noting how the controversial paragraphs regarding persons of homosexual orientation were returned to the writing commission, who then “tried to insert all of the amendments.” “The substantial part remains but everything had to be reduced. Everything. Everything. Everything. And what remained of the substantial part was what became the final relatio. But it isn’t over,” he said. Because the final relatio of this synod is the “lineamenta” — or starting point — for next year’s gathering, the Pope stressed that it is provisionary, and has been sent to the episcopal conferences so they can discuss it and send their own amendments, so that another “instrumentum laboris” can be drafted. “But, it’s a path. For this reason, you can’t take (the) opinion of one person or draft. The Synod has to be seen in its totality,” Pope Francis explained. “Also, I don’t agree — and this is a personal opinion which I don’t want to impose — but I don’t agree with saying that ‘Today, this Father said this,’ or ‘Today, this Father said this,’” the Pope said. Rather, if someone wants to say something, “let them say what was said but not who said it. Why? Because, I repeat, the synod is not a parliament, it’s a protected ecclesial space.” And this protections exists, he observed, “so (that) the Holy Spirit can work. And this is my response.”