What’s unique about the Synod on synodality?

A collaboration from Julian Paparella - Salt & Light Television

What exactly is a synod?

A synod is a gathering, traditionally of bishops, that helps the Church to walk forward together in the same direction. The word “synod” comes from the Greek syn-hodos, meaning “the same way” or “the same path.” Synods were common in the first centuries of Christianity, giving bishops the opportunities to meet and discuss issues of importance for the life of the Church. In 1965, Pope Paul VI instituted the Synod of Bishops at the universal level of the Church. He wanted a way of continuing the fraternal, collegial exchange that had been experienced at the Second Vatican Council. Since then, synods have been organized every two or three years, bringing together bishops, experts, and various delegates to discuss topics like the Eucharist, the Word of God, the Middle East, the new evangelization, the family, young people, and the Amazon.

So what’s unique about this Synod on synodality?

Unlike past synods, this one is not about addressing a particular issue, like most synods before, but about becoming who God calls us to be as a Church, all of us together, amidst the reality of today’s world!

It is no longer only a one-month Synod of Bishops but a three-year synodal process for the entire People of God! All are invited and no one is to be left behind or excluded! Lay people have played a significant role in the preparation of this Synod, and now, for the first time ever, lay participants are full voting members.

It is a synod that aims on giving the entire Church a lived experience of synodality. Il is about becoming a more synodal Church all around the world. The aim of the Synod is not just to talk about synodality, but to put synodality into practice from now onwards, in every diocese, parish, and country across the whole world. This calls all of us to renew our way of being and working together moving forward.


But what is synodality anyways?

Fundamentally, synodality is about journeying together. This happens through listening to one another in order to hear what God is saying to all of us. It is about realizing that the Holy Spirit can speak through anyone to help us walk forward together on our journey as the People of God. “Walking together” is at the heart of what the Church is all about, as the People of God on pilgrimage in the midst of the world. In the days of the early Church, Saint John Chrysostom said that for him “Church” and “synod” were synonyms. In this sense, synodality is a way of renewing the Church from her deepest roots, in order to be more united with one another and better carry out our mission in the world. Concretely, being “synodal” is a way of being and a way of working that takes a more grassroots, collaborative approach. It highlights the fact that we all have something precious to contribute to the Body of Christ. In this way, a “synodal Church” is a Church which listens: “It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. The faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome: all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit.” (Pope Francis)

In summary, this will naturally call us to change our ways of doing things, in order to become more and more who we truly are as a Church: walking together, amidst the entire human family humanity, guided by the Holy Spirit. So, accompanying the members of the Synod, let us pray.

Holy Spirit, lead the Church on our pilgrim path as we listen to You speaking through one another. Enkindle Your love in our hearts to walk forward together as a Church that accompanies all of humanity on our common journey to You. Amen.

Synod 2021 - 2024

For a synodal Church:
communion, participation and mission.


Synodal-U Community

The Society of Jesus joins people from different corners of the world who want to walk together in their synodal formation.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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