Synod of Bishops (Catholic)

The Synod of Bishops is a body in the Roman Catholic Church, by Pope Paul VI. has been established by the Motu Proprio Apostolica sollicitudo on 15 September 1965.

  • 3.1 Shareholders' Meetings
  • 3.2 Extraordinary General Meetings
  • 3.3 Special meetings

Legal Status


As an objective of the Synod of Bishops is to intensify the relationship between the pope and bishops from around the world and to examine general church affairs. Your device goes back to the Second Vatican Council. There the idea of ​​collegiality of the bishops was decisively promoted and constituted. The wearing Pope Paul VI. with the establishment of the invoice Synod.

The Synod of Bishops is an ecclesiastical advisory body of the Pope. It meets to discuss agenda items submitted by the Pope. Only in an exceptional individual cases they may adopt, by authorization of the pope legally binding decrees. In this case, the decrees are set by the Pope in force ( can. 343 CIC). You are not an expression of the will of the College of Bishops, whose maximum power does not require authorization by the Pope. This is a major difference to an ecumenical council. So far there has been no case of such a decree .. In general, following the Synod of a so-called Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation enacted by Pope, which summarizes the results of the consultancy.

Pontifical rights

The Synod of Bishops is under the direct authority of the Pope ( can. 344 CIC). Its privileges are in can. 344 CIC listed. He comes right to the convening of ( n 1), the confirmation of the Synod elected and the appointment of the remaining ( n 2), the determination of the agenda items within a reasonable period ( n 3), the determination of the agenda ( n 4), the Presidency or the provision of a personal representative ( n 5) and closing, laying interruption or cancellation of the Synod (n. 6).

Occurs during the Synod Holy See is vacant or disability of the Apostolic See, the Synod is interrupted ( can. 347 CIC, Article 1 § 2 Ordo Synodi Episcoporum ).


The membership was governed by the Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo. In 2006, a revised Ordo Synodi Episcoporum was issued. Membership always ends with the conclusion of the Synod.

Assembly forms

In the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, it distinguishes between Ordinary General Meetings ( can. 346 § 1 CIC), the Extraordinary General Meetings ( can. 346 § 2 CIC) and the special meetings ( can. 346 § 3 CIC). General meetings to advise on issues that affect the whole church, special meetings on issues that odere several specific regions affect a region.

Annual General Meeting

The Ordinary General Assembly shall consist of elected, seconded and appointed members of the synod. Be selected, the respective representatives of the national Episcopal Conferences of the Latin Church and some representatives of the clerical religious associations. Sent the heads of the autonomous Eastern patriarchy, Major Archbishop and Metropolitan churches sui iuris. The Kardinalpräsides Departments of the Roman and all other synod members are appointed.

Extraordinary General Meeting

The Extraordinary General Assembly shall be able to convene quickly, therefore dispensing with the election of representatives of the Episcopal Conferences. Instead, the conferences will be represented by its chairman or his first deputy. Otherwise there is no difference to the Annual General Meeting.

Special Assembly

At the special meeting attended only by representatives of the region concerned. In addition, only the Kardinalpräsides participate, the Curia authority has any relation to the agenda items.

Permanent Secretariat

The Synod of Bishops is constituted as a permanent constitutional body. This fact bears the establishment of the Permanent Secretariat invoice. The Secretary-General is appointed by the Pope in the long term ( can. 348 CIC). He is the Sekretariatsrat aside. Twelve members of the Council are elected by the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the end of the meeting with regard to the next, three appointed by the Pope (Art. 13 Ordo Synodi Episcoporum ). The Council shall meet at least twice a year. The term of office of members expires at the next meeting of the General Assembly.


The conference hall for special meetings and Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary Synod of Bishops is on the first floor above the lobby of the Vatican audience hall. This new synod hall ( " Aula Nuova del sínodo " ), Pope Paul VI. build a small auditorium. Since 1971 took place there still important meetings of the Synod of Bishops.

Previous meetings

Shareholders' Meetings

  • 2nd Annual General Meeting, 30 September-6 November 1971: " The priestly ministry and justice in the world." The Synod remained virtually ineffective, even though they gave two statements on the ministerial priesthood ( Ultimis temporis) and justice in the world ( De justitia in mundo ).
  • 3rd Annual General Meeting, September 27 - October 26, 1974 " Evangelization in the Modern World " Following this General Assembly on questions of evangelization ( vulgo: Mission ) first appeared in a papal encyclical that but from the results of the Synod, was created with its own priorities of the Pope, derived the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi of 18 December 1975.
  • 4th Annual General Meeting, 30 September-29 October 1977 " Catechesis in our time." The last of Pope Paul VI. responsible fourth meeting was devoted to catechesis; this, wrote Pope John Paul II, the Post-Synodal Exhortation Catechesi tradendae of 16 October 1979.
  • 5th Ordinary General Assembly, 26 September-25 October 1980: " The Christian Family " with the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981).
  • 6th Annual General Meeting, 29 September-29 October 1983, "Reconciliation and Penance in the mission of the Church today "; it follows the Post-Synodal Exhortation Reconciliatio et paenitentia (2 December 1984).
  • 7th Ordinary General Assembly, 1 October to 30 October 1987: " The Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and the world"; then the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Christ laici (30 December 1988) is published.
  • 8th Annual General Meeting, 30 September-28 October 1990: " The Formation of Priests in the Circumstances of the Present ", summarized in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (25 March 1992).
  • 9th Annual General Meeting, 2 October to 29 October 1994: " The consecrated life and its mission in the Church and the world"; thereafter follows the comprehensive Post-Synodal Exhortation Vita consecrata (25 March 1996).
  • The 12th Annual General Meeting, 5 to 23 October 2008: " The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church ". The results were presented by Benedict XVI. summarized in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, on 30 September 2010.
  • The 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 7 to 28 October 2012 " new evangelization for the transmission of the faith ." As he had already announced his Apostolic Letter Porta fidei, he also opened the " Year of Faith ".

Extraordinary General Meetings

The first extraordinary general meeting of 11 October - October 28, 1969 worked on the topic: "Cooperation between the Holy See and the Episcopal Conferences ". Indirect occasion for the meeting were several comments from the Bishops' Conferences of the encyclical Humanae vitae July 25, 1968.

The second extraordinary and perhaps most important General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of November 24 - December 8, 1985 tribute to the 20th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. In this synod the mandate for the development of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a project that has (later Benedict XVI. ) Coined responsible Cardinal Ratzinger goes back.

Francis, Pope since February 2013, has invited for the 5 to 19 October 2014 one (the third ) Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in the Vatican. It is under the theme " The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization." As usual with Synods, the Vatican has published a preliminary document. This document comprises a theological introduction to the theme of the Synod and a list of questions to which the Synod Secretariat in Rome wants to involve the local church.

Special Assemblies

Localized Synods were held for different parts of the world, such as the following special meetings:

  • 28 November to 14 December 1991 as the first Special Assembly for Europe, " That we are witnesses of Christ who has set us free. "
  • 26 November to 14 December 1995 as the Special Assembly for Lebanon, " Christ is our hope, renewed by his Spirit, we witness agreed his love ", Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Lebanon (May 10, 1997)
  • 22 November to 12 December 1998 as the Special Assembly for Oceania, "Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania: Walking His Way, Telling His Truth, to live His life ", Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania (22 November 2001)
  • 4 October to 25 October 2009 as the Second Special Assembly for Africa: "The Church in Africa in service to reconciliation, justice and peace " - " You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (Mt 5, 13-14 EU), Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae munus (19 November 2010).

Secretaries General

  • Bishop Władysław Rubin (1967-1979)
  • Archbishop Jozef Tomko Curia (1979-1985)
  • Jan Pieter Cardinal Schotte (1985-2004)
  • Curia, Archbishop Nikola Eterović (2004-2013)
  • Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri (since 2013)

Literature on the topic Synod of Bishops ( selection)

  • Andreas R. Batlogg, Synod of Bishops and collegiality, in: Stimmen der Zeit, 226 tape, 2008, No. 10, page 649 - 650