Friday, October 06, 2006

Pope Calls Synod

Synod called by Pontiff for October 2008

Oct. 06 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has called a meeting of the Synod of Bishops for October 2008, to discuss the theme: "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

The 12th ordinary assembly of the worldwide Synod will be held October 5-26, 2008. This will be the second meeting of the Synod during this pontificate; Pope Benedict presided at the October 2006 meeting of the Synod, dedicated to the discussion of the Eucharist. (That Synod had originally been called by Pope John Paul II (bio - news); Pope Benedict confirmed the plans shotly after his election.) The Pontiff's apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, summarizing and concluding the work of the 2006 Synod, is expected soon.

Meeting early in June, the council for the Synod of Bishops finished a final draft document on the Eucharist, which was submitted to the Pope as the basis for his apostolic exhortation. At the same time the council proposed three possible themes for the next full meeting of the Synod. The Pope chose the theme on the Word of God.

At their next meeting, the members of the Synod council will begin preparations for the October 2008 meeting. The first major task is to compose the lineamenta: the preliminary document sketching the main lines of discussion for the meeting. The lineamenta is then circulated among the world's bishops for comments and suggestions, and the Synod council then prepares the instrumentum laboris that is the working document for the Synod discussions.

Pope Paul VI established the Synod as a "permanent council of bishops for the universal Church," with his motu proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo in September 1965. The first general assembly of the Synod, meeting in 1967, drew 197 bishops to discuss the preservation and teaching of the Catholic faith. Subsequent meetings of the ordinary assembly during the pontificate of Paul VI were devoted to the priesthood and social justice (1971), evangelization (1974), and catechesis (1977). During the long pontificate of John Paul II there were 6 meetings of the ordinary assembly, devoted to discussions of the family (1980), reconciliation and penance (1983), the laity (1987), priestly formation (1990), consecrated life (1994), and the duties of bishops (2001). The October 2008 session will be the 12th ordinary assembly, but the 22nd Synod meeting since 1965. In 1969, Pope Paul VI called a special session of the Synod to discuss the role of episcopal conferences. Pope John Paul II convened an extraordinary synods in 1985 to review the 20 years since Vatican II. He also called 8 extraordinary synods to discuss the work of the Church in particular countries or regions: the Netherlands (1980), Europe (1985 and again in 1999), Africa (1994), Lebanon (1995), the Americas (1997), Asia (1998), and Oceania (also 1998).

Before his death, Pope John Paul indicated that he planned to convene a second extraordinary Synod for Africa. In June 2005, Pope Benedict confirmed that plan, and preparations for that meeting are underway, although a date for the assembly has not yet been fixed.


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