The Synod is a means of gathering information on a particular theme from the local Churches, established by Pope Paul VI in 1965. Pope Francis, repeating what his predecessor, Paul VI, said, stated that the Synod has a “consultative role, offering information and counsel to the Roman Pontiff on various ecclesial questions, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”. Furthermore, the role of the Synod of Bishops is primarily that of “listening to the People of God”. The Synod, therefore, is the “suitable instrument to give voice to the entire People of God”.
Almost every two years since 1967, the Church has celebrated a Synod of Bishops. This is a special and unique moment in the life of the Church. Bishops from all over the world gather in order to assist the Bishop of Rome with “providing for the good of the universal Church”. In each Synod, the Church “journeys together”, along a specific path, focusing on a theme chosen by the Pope. In the end, the Pope “confirms his brethren in the faith” regarding “matters and situations that bear upon the internal life of the Church and upon the kind of action that [we] should be carrying on in today’s world” (Pope Paul VI).
The themes that have been chosen throughout the years manifest the various concerns that the Popes have shared with the Bishops, themes that are critical to promoting a missionary Church. Pope Paul VI’s themes included priesthood, evangelization and catechesis; St. Pope JP II’s included the family, reconciliation and laity; Pope Benedict XVI’s included the Eucharist, the Word of God, Africa, the Middle East and New Evangelization; and Pope Francis’ have included the family, young people, the Pan-Amazon region and, now, in 2023, Synodality.