The Synod on Synodality

What is the 2021 - 2024 Synod?

The objective of the current Synod is to listen, as the entire People of God, to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. We do so by listening together to the Word of God in Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church, and then by listening to one another, and especially to those at the margins, discerning the signs of the times. In fact, the whole Synodal Process aims at fostering a lived experience of discernment, participation, and coresponsibility, where a diversity of gifts is brought together for the Church’s mission in the world.  -Synod Vademecum 1.3

What is a Synod in the Catholic Church?

Many people may find the name “Synod on Synodality” and its purpose puzzling.

The word derives from an ancient Greek term that means “coming together” or “travelling together.” Ancient Christians developed a custom of local leaders coming together to pray and make decisions about matters affecting all the Christian communities in a region. They gathered in the faith that their prayers and discussions would reveal God’s will and the way to achieve it.

These gatherings came to be called “synods” and began a tradition of regional synods for bishops, as well as larger ones called “ecumenical councils.” In principle, these were for all bishops worldwide to discuss issues consequential for the whole church.

The most recent one, the Second Vatican Council or “Vatican II,” met from 1962 to 1965 and launched important changes in church law and structure.

One of Vatican II’s goals was to revitalize the importance of bishops as heads of their local churches and emphasize their cooperation with one another. As a “college” under the leadership of the pope, the bishops are mutually responsible for the governance of the whole church.

To assist this revitalization, Pope Paul VI created a permanent structure for a Synod of Bishops, with a secretariat in Rome and a General Assembly gathered regularly by the pope. Since 1967, the popes have brought this assembly together 18 times: 15 “Ordinary Assemblies” and three “Extraordinary,” in addition to a number of “Special Assemblies” involving particular regions of the world.

Where is the Synod Up To?

The next phase of the Synod asks the people of God to move from "What do we want or need to do?" to the "How do we do things?"

We are invited to continue the synodal conversation and provide food for thought for the next Assembly in October 2024.  The broad question for us is "How can we be a  synodal church in mission?"

Diocesan Synod News and Resources

Diocesan Synthesis Document

The synthesis document for the Diocese of Middlesbrough at the end of phase one.

Click here.

Becoming a Missionary Church

This document results from a Diocesan Synod Day held in November 2023.

Click here.

All Disciples

All Missionaries

Towards a Listening and Accompanying Church

9 March 2024 | 9:30 - 15:00

English Martyrs, Dalton Terrace


Book your place, click here.

Synthesis Report Extract

From 16th Synoday Assembly for use in the Diocese of Middlesbrough towards 2024

Click here.

National and International Synod News and Resources

Preparatory Document

This document is useful to understand how synodality is rooted in the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church. 

Click here.

Vatican Synod Website

Keep up with all the Synod news from the Vatican.

Click here.

International Synod News

All up-to-date information on the Synod can be found by clicking here.

Synod News

 England and Wales

Click here.

National Synthesis England and Wales

Click here.

Synod Resources

Sharing resources preparing for the Synod year 2024.

Click here.

Synthesis Report

At the conclusion of the 16th Assembly of the Synod.

Click here.

Bishops' Reflection

A Reflection from the Bishops of England and Wales following the compilation of the Synodal National Synthesis Document.

Click here.

The Fundamental questions we are asked?

How is our “journeying together” as the Church happening today in your parish/community? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

In responding to this question, you are invited to recall your experiences:

• What experiences of your local Church – including reflecting on the time of the pandemic – does this question call to mind? Re-read these experiences in greater depth:

• What has the experience taught us about what it means to be Church? “When we say ‘our Church’, who is part of it?” How does your particular Church ensure you are part of the ‘journey’? Who is missing?

• What would you wish to celebrate about how your parish/community lives its mission?

• What areas of mission are we neglecting? Gather the fruits to share:

• What might the Holy Spirit be saying to us?

• What steps might the Spirit be inviting us to take in order to make our communities more welcoming, inclusive and missionary?

Keywords for the Synodal Process

Communion: The communion we share finds its deepest roots in the love and unity of the Trinity. We all have a role to play in discerning and living out God’s call for his people.

Participation: In a synodal Church the whole community, in the free and rich diversity of its members, is called together to pray, listen, analyse, dialogue, discern and offer advice on making pastoral decisions which correspond as closely as possible to God's will.

Mission: The Church exists to evangelize. We can never be centred on ourselves. Our mission is to witness to the love of God in the midst of the whole human family.

Ten Themes To Explore

The Holy See suggests ten themes to explore to enable us to respond fully to the fundamental question.

1. Companions on the journey

2. Listening

3. Speaking out

4. Celebration

5. Sharing Responsibility for our Common Mission

6. Dialogue in Church and Society

7. Ecumenism

8. Authority and Participation

9. Discerning and Deciding

10. Forming ourselves in Synodality

Basic Attitudes for the Synodal Process

Prayer: Synodality is a spiritual experience rooted in prayer. It is not a round-table discussion but rather a way of being Church which comes from prayer and is led by prayer.

Attentive Listening: We pay deep attention to the person speaking, welcoming without judgment what is being said. Awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit allows us to sit in silence. We listen with humility, patience and a readiness to learn.

Speaking from the Heart: We speak from our personal experience, paying attention to our feelings. We avoid generalised statements and the temptation to apportion blame. We offer our words as a gift to the group and do not seek to dominate or manipulate. We do not say anything which could be heard as hateful or belittling of others.