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What is Synodality and why is it discussed so often?


One of the major reforms of Pope Francis' pontificate is legal in nature. It covers the “Episcopalis Communio,” the rules and regulations for the Synod of Bishops. 

1- WHAT IS A SYNOD?

Pope Paul VI created the synod after the Second Vatican Council to strengthen the relationship between bishops and the pontiff. The goal was to create an open dialogue on concrete pastoral matters. However, the assembly of bishops should not be confused as a political debate. 

POPE FRANCIS
“The Synod is not a parliament. It is a protected space for the Holy Spirit to act.

2- WHAT HAS THE POPE CHANGED?

Each pope has adapted the function of the synod to fit the needs of the moment. In the case of Pope Francis, he decided to involve not only bishops, but also the rest of the Church community. 

That is why the Vatican sends a questionnaire to Catholics in the dioceses before each assembly. With the results, a report was made that served as a guide for the bishops participating in the Synod. 

DARIO VITALI
Consultant, General Secretary of the Synod

“The pope asked several times that listening be a fundamental principle in the life of the Church. . In a democracy what works in general is the opinion of the majority. In the Synodal Church, the principle that regulates the life of the Church is the 'sensus fidei.' This is, the voice of the Holy Spirit manifested through the baptized.”

3- WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE 'EPISCOPALIS COMMUNIO' DOCUMENT?

With the document 'Episcopalis Communio,' the pope sent a message to bishops, priests, religious and laity not to forget that the Church is not only the hierarchy, but all the baptized persons.  

PHILIP GOYRET
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
“Jesus Christ founded the Church and gave it to the apostles. This might lead one to think that the Church has a pyramidal structure. This, as often happens, has some truth and some incompleteness, because a bishop is not a monarch.”

This was how Pope Francis is culminating the journey begun by his predecessors to underline an essential dimension of the Church: synodality.

The final document of the Synod on “Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment” recalls these words by Pope Francis.

POPE FRANCIS
Oct. 17, 2015

“Synodality is the path that God expects of the Church of the third millennium.”

The document points out that synodality is key to the missionary impulse that the Church needs.

Synodality literally means to walk together and it is a very particular way of understanding the relationships between the pope, bishops and the rest of the baptized. It was an essential mark of the early Church.