Pope Francis has announced a universal Synod inviting all Catholics across the globe to discern together how to better listen and communicate with each other to bolster our communion in Christ Jesus. Similar to our recent diocesan synod, all Catholics in Vermont will be invited to participate in parish listening sessions, diocesan listening sessions and digital surveys.
— Bishop Christopher Coyne
What is the Synod of Bishops?
A helpful short definition of the Synod of Bishops is a gathering of bishops that:
- fosters closer unity between the bishops and the Pope.
- provides counsel to the Pope on matters of faith and morals, and discipline of the Church.
- studies questions concerning the Church in the world (c.f. Code of Canon Law c. 342).
Voting in the Synod of Bishops is limited to bishops present at the synod gathering. However, clergy, men and women religious, theologians, catechists, canon lawyers, and lay experts all participate in the synod gathering with bishops by providing their counsel.
What is Synodal Process?
The synodal process or synodality is not simply a gathering or meeting of bishops, nor is it a process of the administrative arm of the Church. Rather, synodality is the path and process of the Church as communion. It is the communion of all the baptized who are listening to each other, dialoguing with each other, and praying together to hear the voice of Holy Spirit as we all seek holiness and proclaim the Gospel. Synodality involves clergy, religious and laity listening and speaking, praying, and discerning together, and placing the hopes and concerns of the People of God at the foot of the bishops, who, united with the Pope, decide matters of faith and morals to preserve the faith and strengthen the Church throughout the world.
What is different about this Synod?
This Synod is unique because the Holy Father is asking that the entire Church participate in this Synod. The faithful, clergy and religious are invited to pray, listen, and talk together with the bishops before the 2023 gathering of Bishops in Rome. In our Diocese, we will pray, listen and talk with one another through parish listening sessions, diocesan listening sessions and digital surveys.
—Originally published in the Nov. 27 – Dec. 3, 2021, edition of The Inland See.