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Episcopalis communio

· Apostolic Constitution of the Synod of Bishops ·

With the aim of more directly involving the People of God in the synodal experience of the Church, the Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis communio was presented Tuesday morning, 18 September, in the Holy See Press Office. It reformulates the structure, tasks and perspectives of the Synod of Bishops, instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1965, reintroducing the Synod as a constitutive dimension of the Church. It seeks to promote, within this environment, the sense of faith of all of the baptized.

While the fundamental structure remains, in essence, that which was established by Montini, the changes introduced by the constitution go far beyond simple procedural adjustments.

The document goes as far as to speak of a true and real refoundation of the Synodal organism, emphasized Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. He described the contents of the document and restated one of its key ideas, in which Pope Francis recalls that the Synod, while set up as an episcopal institution, it does not exist “separated from the rest of the faithful”. Rather, it is “an instrument suited to giving voice to the whole People of God, precisely by means of the Bishops”.

It is important that there be a stable incorporation of phases of preparation and of implementation, as noted by the Under-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Fabio Fabene. It is especially in the preparatory phase that the entire Church is called into question, through a consultative process that involves both priests and faithful.

In other news, it is worth noting that there is a chance that the assemblies will be held during different periods, allowing for sufficient analysis of the themes discussed. Further, the instructions regarding the final document will change: after the assembly approves the text, it will be presented to the Pope, who will then be able to decide whether to approve it (in the ordinary case of a consultative Synod), ratify it, or promulgate it (in the extraordinary case of a deliberative Synod). In both cases, the text will be part of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Pope.

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Aug. 18, 2019

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