Saturday afternoon was the last time the Synod met here, in Synod Hall. The cardinals and bishops had read the meeting's final document in private, and they were ready to vote on its contents.
They began voting in a climate of silence and concentration. And it seems that Pope Francis joined them, also voting on 94 points in the document.
"Voting for number 11 is open.”
Following the votes, the Pope gave an important speech to close the Synod. He thanked the participants for their involvement. But he also had stern words for those that expressed themselves with "not entirely benevolent words.”
He spoke further of the relationship between doctrine and mercy.
"The experience of the Synod has also made us understand better that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who defend the letter but instead the spirit; not ideas but instead people; not formulas but instead the gratuity of the love of God and his forgiveness.”
He explained that he does not seek to minimize laws, but instead to exalt the greatness of God, who treats people with mercy, independent of their actions.
"The first duty of the Church is not to distribute convictions or anathemas but instead to proclaim the mercy of God, call for conversion, and drive all humans to the salvation of the Lord.”
While the Synod is over, Pope Francis explained, the Church will now "walk together” to bring the light of the Gospel to every situation.
Following his speech, the Pope received a standing ovation from the bishops. They then left the hall one by one. When Pope Francis departed, he quickly greeted the press before heading straight to Casa Santa Marta.