Catholic Dictionary




An assembly of ecclesiastics, not necessarily all bishops, gathered together under ecclesiastical authority to discuss and decide on matters pertaining to doctrine, discipline, or liturgy under their jurisdiction. The words synod and council were for centuries synonymous, and the terms are still interchangeable. At the Council of Trent, synod referred to a diocesan assembly, which the council decreed should be held once every year. In the Code of Canon Law, diocesan synods were legislated to be held every ten years at least, at which only a bishop was to have legislative authority, everyone else being only a consultor. (Etym. Latin synodus; from Greek synodos, meeting: sun-, together + hodos, road, way, journey.)