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Ordinary Synod of Bishops

Oct 14

Written by:
10/14/2018 12:00 AM  RssIcon

As I write this, the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the topic of Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment is convening in Rome. This is the fifteenth ‘Ordinary Synod of Bishops’ since the Second Vatican Council. The Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 and from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website, the Synod process was established “to continue the spirit of collegiality and communion that was present at the Council. The Synod is an assembly of bishops from around the world who assist the Holy Father by providing counsel on important questions facing the Church in a manner that preserves the Church's teaching and strengthens her internal discipline.”

These gatherings are guided by working documents that are available on the Vatican website, usually last a period of about three weeks, and involve delegates of bishops for all the countries around the world. During their meetings, they discuss various points developed in the preparatory documents and have time to pray over the material and time for discussion with bishops from other parts of the world. Various other ‘experts’ in the field for that Synod are typically also invited and able to address the assembly and offer their opinions and reflections. The bishop delegates for this Synod are Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston and Houston, Texas, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop Caggiano of Bridgeport, CT, and Bishop Barron, an Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire Ministry.

The Synod typically results in a document, usually at the level of an Apostolic Exhortation, that recaps the work of the Synod and clarifies how this time together will help the Church move forward together. Some examples of these types of documents are ‘Pastores Dabo Vobis, (I will Give You Shepherds)’ that helps guide the work of seminaries and houses of formation for priests, and ‘Verbum Dei’ (On the Word of God) which examined how the Scripture guides and inspires the work of the Church today.

The days of the Synod are filled with short speeches by the participants and delegates, typically only three to five minutes in length, that focus on one small aspect of the overall document. Maybe it is a question asking for clarification, maybe it is a challenge to a point raised in a previous intervention, etc. There is a panel that is in charge of collecting all of those notes and questions and interventions, collating them together, and presenting them to the main committee and ultimately to the Holy Father for his reflection and guidance to write the post synod exhortation.

Luckily, in our world today, there are many ways to follow the work of the Synod and to be involved in that process. Obviously, prayer is a big part of our involvement. You can also follow along via Catholic News Service ( or via Catholic News Agency ( They also have twitter and facebook feeds for the Synod as well.

The work of the Church continues, despite our flaws, at both the parish, national and international level. Let us all pray for her work to continue in calling us all to a deeper trust in the providence of God!


In Christ,

Fr. Kyle Schnippel

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Re: Why do we place a white pall on the casket of the deceased at funeral Masses?
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