I sat in on the sub-committee for Church and Society 2 last night (Saturday), the one dealing with issues of humanity - cloning, embryonic stem cell research, etc.
I don't have much to say on the actual issues. But it was interesting to observe the process they were using.
The other committees I've looked in on have been pretty relaxed, holding discussion and working toward consensus in holy conferencing. The chairs have been guiding and inclusive, reiterating as necessary, even drawing up documents to pull together the conversation, making sure everyone is on the same page.
The committee last night was a little different. They began every petition by having someone vote to adopt or reject the proposed legislation, and several times got bogged down in the semantics of Robert's Rules, because they tried to have open dialogue in the context of Robert's rules, and it wasn't really working that well.
This afternoon (Sunday), I went into Global Ministries. I thought that the standing rules had been changed so that the committees will vote on the actual petitions, and the same in the plenary, as opposed to voting concurrence or non-concurrence with the committee. But GM was voting concurrence/non-concurrence with the sub-committee. They were also not having people vote yea, they only asked for votes of no or not-voting. It made things go fast, because the pages didn't have to count all of the yes votes, they just subtracted the numbers of no's or not voting's.
I'm for doing what works. But I'm afraid, especially with the concurrence/non-concurrence voting, that things may get confusing when they return to the plenary.