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Catholic Dictionary




An assembly of bishops, chosen from various parts of the world, that meets in Rome every several years to "render more effective assistance to the supreme pastor of the Church in a consultative body which will be called by the proper name of Synod of Bishops. Since it will be acting in the name of the entire episcopate, it will at the same time show that all bishops in hierarchical communion share in the solicitude for the universal Church" (Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church, I, 5). Although by its nature permanent, the synod performs its duties only for a time and when called upon. Normally operating as a consultative body, to inform and counsel the Pope, it may also have deliberative (decision-making) power, when this is conferred by the Sovereign Pontiff, who must in all cases confirm the synodal deliberations to give them validity.