During its Ninth Five-year term, the International Theological Commission conducted a study concerning synodality in the life and mission of the Church. The work was developed in a special subcommittee presided by Mgr. Mario Angel Flores Ramos and composed of the following members: Sister Prudence Allen, RSM, Sr. Alenka Arko, of the Loyola Community, Mgr. Antonio Luiz Catelan Ferreira, Mgr. Piero Coda, Rev. Carlos Maria Galli, Rev. Gaby Alfred Hachem, Prof. Hector Gustavo Sanchez Rojas, SCV, Rev. Nicholaus Segeja M'hela, Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, OP

The general discussions on this topic took place both during the various meetings of the Subcommittee and during the Plenary Sessions of the Commission itself, held in the years 2014-2017. This text was specifically approved by a majority of the members of the Commission during the 2017 Plenary Session, by means of a written vote. It was then submitted to the approval of its President, His Exc. Luis F. Ladaria, SI, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who, after receiving a favorable opinion from the Holy Father Francis, on 2 March 2018, authorized its publication.


1.     "The path of synodality is the path that God expects from the Church of the third millennium" [1] : this is the programmatic commitment proposed by Pope Francis in the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Synod of Bishops by Blessed Paul VI. Indeed, synodality - he underlined - "is the constitutive dimension of the Church", so that "what the Lord asks of us, in a certain sense, is already contained in the word" synod "» [2] .

2.    This document intends to offer some useful lines for the theological deepening of the meaning of this commitment together with some pastoral orientation regarding the implications that derive from it for the Church's mission. In the introduction we recall the etymological and conceptual data necessary to clarify in advance the content and use of the word "synodality", and then contextualize the pregnancy and novelty of the teaching offered to us by the Magisterium in the wake of the Vatican Council II .

Synod, Council, synodality

3.     "Synod" is an ancient and venerable word in the Tradition of the Church, whose meaning recalls the deepest content of Revelation. Composed by the preposition ouv, with, and by the noun o5oq, way, indicates the path made together by the People of God. It therefore refers to the Lord Jesus who presents himself as "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14 ; 6), and to the fact that Christians, in his following, are originally called "the disciples of the way" (see Acts 9,2, 19,9.23; 22,4; 24,14,22).

In the ecclesiastical Greek it expresses being summoned to the assembly of the disciples of Jesus and in some cases is synonymous with the ecclesial community [3] . Saint John Chrysostom, for example, writes that the Church is "a name that is walking together (ouvo5oq)" [4] . The Church in fact - he explains - is the assembly

convened to give thanks and praise to God as a chorus, a harmonious reality where everything is held (ouoTrnja), because those who compose it, through their mutual and ordered relationships, converge in dydnri and in opovoia (the same feeling).

4.    With a specific meaning, since the first centuries, the ecclesial assemblies convened at various levels (diocesan, provincial or regional, patriarchal, universal) are designated with the word "synod" to discern, in the light of the Word of God and listening of the Holy Spirit, the doctrinal, liturgical, canonical and pastoral questions that are gradually presented.

The Greek ouvoSoq is translated into Latin with synod us or concilium. Concilium, in profane use, indicates an assembly convened by legitimate authority. Although the roots of "synod" and "council" are different, the meaning is convergent. On the contrary, "council" enriches the semantic content of "synod" recalling the Hebrew "pnp - ( qahal) the assembly convened by the Lord - and its translation in Greek EKKAqoia, which designates in the New Testament the eschatological convocation of the People of God in Christ Jesus.

In the Catholic Church the distinction in the use of the words "council" and "synod" is recent. In Vatican II they are synonymous in designating the conciliar assise [5] . A clarification is introduced in the CodexIuris Canoniciof the Latin Church (1983), where a distinction is made between particular council (plenary or provincial) [6] and ecumenical council [7], on the one hand, Synod of Bishops [8] and diocesan Synod [_9], on the other [10] .

5.     In the theological, canonistic and pastoral literature of the last decades the use of a new conio noun, "synodality", related to the adjective "synodal", both derived from the word "synod" has been profiled. Thus we speak of synodality as the "constitutive dimension" of the Church and tout court of "Synodal Church". This novelty of language, which requires careful theological development, attests to an acquisition that is maturing in the ecclesial conscience starting from the Magisterium of Vatican II and from the experience lived, in the local Churches and in the universal Church, since the last Council until today.

Communion, synodality, collegiality

6.     Although the term and the concept of synodality are not explicitly found in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, it can be affirmed that the instance of synodality is at the heart of the work of renewal promoted by it.

The ecclesiology of the People of God emphasizes in fact the common dignity and mission of all the baptized, in the exercise of the multiform and ordered wealth of their charisms, their vocations, their ministries. The concept of communion expresses in this context the profound substance of the mystery and of the mission of the Church, which has its source and its culmination in the Eucharistic syntax [11] . It designates the res of the Sacramentum Ecdesiae: the union with God the Trinity and the unity among human persons that is realized through the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus [12] .

Synodality, in this ecclesiological context, indicates the specific modus vivendi et operandi of the People's Church of God which concretely manifests and realizes its being a communion in walking together, in gathering together and actively participating in all its members in its mission, evangelizing.

7.    While the concept of synodality recalls the involvement and participation of the whole People of God in the life and mission of the Church, the concept of collegiality specifies the theological meaning and form of exercise of the ministry of Bishops at the service of the particular Church entrusted to the pastoral care of each one and in the communion between the particular Churches within the one and universal Church of Christ, through the hierarchical communion of the Episcopal College with the Bishop of Rome.

Collegiality, therefore, is the specific form in which ecclesial synodality manifests itself and is realized through the ministry of Bishops on the level of communion between the particular Churches in a region and on the level of communion among all the Churches in the universal Church. Every authentic manifestation of synodality requires by its very nature the exercise of the collegial ministry of the Bishops.

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A threshold of novelty in the wake of Vatican II

8.    The fruits of renewal propitiated by Vatican II in promoting ecclesial communion, episcopal collegiality, conscience and synodal praxis have been rich and precious. However, many remain the steps to be taken in the direction traced by the Council [13] . On the contrary, today the impulse to realize a pertinent synodal figure of the Church, although widely shared and has experienced positive forms of implementation, appears in need of clear theological principles and incisive pastoral guidelines.

9.     Hence the threshold of novelty that Pope Francis invites to cross. In the path traced by Vatican II and followed by his predecessors, he stresses that synodality expresses the figure of the Church that springs from the Gospel of Jesus and which is called to incarnate today in history, in creative fidelity to Tradition.

In accordance with the teaching of Lumen gentium, Pope Francis emphasizes in particular that synodality "offers us the most adequate interpretative framework for understanding the same hierarchical ministry" [14] and that, according to the doctrine of sensus fidei fidelium [15], all members of the Church are active subjects of evangelization [16] . It follows that the establishment of a Synodal Church is an indispensable presupposition for a new missionary impulse that involves the entire People of God.

Synodality is also at the heart of the ecumenical commitment of Christians: because it represents an invitation to walk together on the path to full communion and because it offers - correctly understood - an understanding and experience of the Church in which the legitimate differences in logic of a mutual exchange of gifts in the light of truth.

Objective and articulation of the document

10.     This document commits itself in the first two chapters to respond to the need to deepen the theological meaning of synodality in the perspective of Catholic ecclesiology in tune with the teaching of Vatican II. In the first, we go back to the normative sources of Sacred Scripture and Tradition to highlight the rooting of the Synodal figure of the Church in the historical unfolding of Revelation and to highlight the fundamental connotations and specific theological criteria that define the concept and regulate its practice.

In the second, the theological foundations of synodality are proposed in conformity with the ecclesiological doctrine of Vatican II. articulating them with the perspective of the pilgrim and missionary People of God and with the mystery of the Church communion, with reference to the distinctive properties of unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity of the Church. Finally, the relationship between the participation of all the members of the People of God in the mission of the Church and the exercise of the authority of the Pastors deepens.

The third and fourth chapters, on this basis, intend to offer some pastoral orientations: the third, in reference to the concrete implementation of synodality at various levels, in the particular Church, in communion among the particular Churches in one region, in the universal Church; the fourth, referring to the spiritual and pastoral conversion and to the communitarian and apostolic discernment required for an authentic experience of the Synodal Church, appreciating its positive reflections in the ecumenical journey and in the social diaconia of the Church.



11.        The normative sources of the Synodal life of the Church in Scripture and Tradition attest that at the heart of the divine plan of salvation the vocation to union with God and to the unity in Him of the whole human race that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ shines forth and is realized through the ministry of the Church. They offer the basic lines necessary for the discernment of the theological principles that must animate and regulate life, structures, processes and synodal events. On this basis, we outline the forms of synodality developed in the Church during the first millennium and then, in the second millennium, in the Catholic Church, recalling some data on the synodal practice lived in other Churches and Ecclesial Communities.

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1.1. The teaching of Scripture

12     . The Old Testament attests that God created the human being, man and woman, in his image and likeness as a social being called to collaborate with him walking in the sign of communion, guarding the universe and orienting it to its goal ( Gen.l,26-28). From the beginning, sin undermines the realization of the divine plan, breaking the ordered network of relationships in which the truth, the goodness and the beauty of creation are expressed, and its vocation dimming in the heart of the human being. But God, in the richness of his mercy, confirms and renews the covenant to bring back on the path of unity what has been dispersed, restoring man's freedom and directing it to accept and live the gift of union with God and of the unity with the brothers in the common house of creation (see eg Gen9,8-17; 15; 17; Ex 19-24; 2 Sam7,ll).

13     . In carrying out his plan, God calls Abraham and his descendants (see Gen 12,1-3, 17,1-5, 22,16-18). This convocation (rrry / - the first term often translated into Greek with eKKAqoia), enshrined in the Covenant of Sinai (see Br 24,6-8; 34,20ss.), Gives relief and dignity to God's interlocutor to the People freed from slavery, which in the path of the exodus gathers around her Lord to celebrate the cult and live the Law recognizing its unique properties (see. Dt5.1 to 22; Gs8i Ne8.1 to 18).

The rrry / is the original form in which the synodal vocation of the People of God manifests itself. In the desert, God orders the census of the tribes of Israel, to each one assigning his place (see Nm 1-2). At the center of the assembly, the only guide and pastor, there is the Lord who makes himself present through the ministry of Moses (see Nm 12, 15-16, Gs8,30-35) to which others are associated in a subordinate and collegial: the Judges (see Ex 18 ; 25-26), the Elders (see Nm 11:16-17.24-30), the Levites (see Nml,SQ- 51). The assembly of the People of God includes not only men (see Exodus 24,7-8), but also women and children as well as strangers (cf.Gs 8.33.35). It is the partner convened by the Lord whenever he renews the covenant (see Dt27-28, Js 24, 2 Kings 23, Neh 8).

14      . The message of the Prophets inculcates in the People of God the need to walk along the troubles of history in fidelity to the covenant. The Prophets therefore invite the conversion of the heart to God and to justice in relations with others, especially the poorest, the oppressed, the foreigners, as a tangible testimony of the Lord's mercy (see Jer37\ 21, 38: 1).

For this to happen, God promises to give a new heart and spirit (see Ez 11,19) and to open a new exodus before his People (see _7er37-38): then he will make a new covenant, no longer engraved on stone tablets but on hearts (see Jter 31: 31-34). It will expand on universal horizons, since the Servant of the Lord will gather the nations (see /s53), and will be sealed by the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord upon all the members of his People (see Gl3:1-4).

15     . God realizes the new covenant he promised in Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah and Lord, who reveals with his kerygma, his life and his person that God is a communion of love that with his grace and mercy he wants to embrace in unity whole humanity. He is the Son of God, from eternity projected into love towards the bosom of the Father (see Jn 1,1.18), made man in the fullness of time (see Jn 1,14, Gal4,4) to lead to fulfillment of the divine plan of salvation (see J/58.29; 6.39; 5.22. 27). By never acting alone, Jesus achieves in all the will of the Father: who, dwelling in him, fulfills his work himself through the Son he has sent into the world (see Jn 14:10).

The Father's plan is fulfilled eschatologically in the Easter of Jesus, when he gives his life to resume it in the resurrection (see J/710:17) and share it as a filial and fraternal life to his disciples in the "without measure" Holy Spirit (see Jn 3:34). The Passover of Jesus is the new exodus that gathers in unity (ouvayciYri ev) all those who believe in him in faith (see Jn 11,52) and that He conforms to himself through baptism and the Eucharist. The work of salvation is the unity of Jesus asked of the Father in the imminence of passion: "As you, Father, you are in me and I in you, may they be one in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me "(Jn 17.21).

16     . Jesus is the pilgrim who proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of God (see Z.Ar4 ; 14-15, 8.1, 9.57, 13.22, 19.11) proclaiming "the path of God" (see Lk. 20,21) and tracing its direction ( Lk9,51-19,28). Indeed,

he himself is "the way" (cf. Jn 14 ;6) which leads to the Father, communicating to men in the Holy Spirit (see Jn 16:13) the truth and life of communion with God and with the brethren. To live the communion according to the measure of the new commandment of Jesus means to walk together in history as the People of God of the new covenant corresponding to the gift received (see 6V15.12 to 15). A living icon of the Church as the People of God, guided along the way by the risen Lord who illumines it with his Word and nourishes it with the Bread of life, is outlined by the evangelist Luke in the account of the disciples of Emmaus (see Lk. 24,13-35).

17 . The New Testament makes use of a specific term to express the power to communicate the salvation that Jesus received from the Father and which, in the strength (Suvcpq) of the Holy Spirit, exercises over all creatures: e^ouaia (authority). It consists in the communication of grace that makes "children of God"

(see Jn 1,12). This e^ouaia the Apostles receive from the Risen Lord, who sends them to teach the Gentiles baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that He has commanded (see MtlS>: 19-20). All the members of the People of God who have received "the anointing of the Holy Spirit" (cf. lJn .2,20,27), are taught by God (see -7/7 6:45) and guided "to the whole truth"

(see Jn 16 ; 13).

18. The e^ouaia of the risen Lord is expressed in the Church through the plurality of spiritual gifts (to nvEupaTiKd) or charisms (to xapiapaTa) that the Spirit bestows within the People of God for the building up of the one Body of Christ. In their exercise, an objective Ta^iq must be respected , so that they can develop harmoniously and bring the fruit to which they are destined for the benefit of all (see 1 Corinthians 12 ; 28­30, Eph4 :11-13). The first place among them is that of the Apostles - among which a particular and pre­eminent role is attributed by Jesus to Simon Peter (see Mt 16,18s., Jn 21,15 sqq.): They are in fact entrusted with the ministry of guiding the Church in fidelity to thedepositum fidei{ ITim 6,20; 2Tim 1,12.14). But the term xapiopa also evokes the gratuitousness and pluriformity of the free initiative of the Spirit who gives each one his own gift in view of common utility (see ICor12,4-11; 29-30; Eph*t :7). In the logic, always, of mutual submission and mutual service (see 1 Cor 12:25): since the supreme and regulative gift of all is charity (see 1 Cor 12:31).

19      . The Acts of the Apostles attest to some important moments in the journey of the Apostolic Church in which the People of God is called to the communitarian exercise of the discernment of the will of the risen Lord. The protagonist who guides and guides this path is the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2 ; 2-3). It is the responsibility of the disciples, in the exercise of their respective roles, to listen to his voice to discern the path to follow (see ActsS : 19-21; 8: 26.29.39; 12.6-17; 13.1; -3; 16.6-7.9­10; 20.22). An example of this is the choice of "seven men of good repute, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom", to whom the Apostles entrust the task of "serving the tables" (see At&\ 1-6), and the discernment of the crucial question of mission to the Gentiles (see Acts 10).

20      . This question is dealt with in what tradition has called the "Apostolic Council of Jerusalem" (see Acts 15, and also Gal2:1-10). It is possible to recognize the production of a synodal event in which the apostolic Church, in a decisive moment of its journey, lives its vocation in the light of the presence of the risen Lord in view of the mission. This event, over the centuries, will be interpreted as the paradigmatic figure of the Synods celebrated by the Church.

The story accurately describes the dynamics of the event. Faced with the relevant and controversial question that questions it, the community of Antioch decides to turn "to the Apostles and the Elders" (15,2) of the Church of Jerusalem, sending to them Paul and Barnabas. The Jerusalem community, the Apostles and the Elders promptly meet (15.4) to examine the situation. Paul and Barnabas report what happened. A lively and open discussion follows (EK^riTriocooiv: 15,7a). In particular, Peter's authoritative testimony and profession of faith are heard (15.7b-12).

James interprets the events in the light of the prophetic word (see Am 9,11-12: Acts 15: 14-18), which attests to the universal salvific will of God, who chose "among the Gentiles a people" (e?j eBvcov Aaov; 15.14), and formulates the decision by offering some rules of behavior (15: 19-21). His speech attests to a vision of the Church's mission firmly rooted in God's plan and at the same time open to his being present in the progressive unfolding of the history of salvation. Finally, some envoys are chosen to send the letter that conveys the
decision taken with the prescriptions on the procedure to be followed (15.23-29), a letter that is delivered and read to the community of Antioch that rejoices (15,30-31).

21. All are actors in the process, although their role and contribution are diversified. The question is presented to the whole Church of Jerusalem (nav to nArjBoq; 15,12), which is present throughout its course and is involved in the final decision (e5o^e ToTq anocrroAoiq koi toTc; npeoPuTepoiq ouv oAp TfjeKKAr|oia; 15,22). But the Apostles (Peter and James, who take the floor) and the Elders, who exercise their specific ministry with authority, are asked in the first instance.

The decision is taken by James, the leader of the Church of Jerusalem, by virtue of the action of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church's path assuring its fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus: "We have decided, the Holy Spirit and us" (15,28). It is received and endorsed by the whole assembly of Jerusalem (15,22) and then by that of Antioch (15,30-31).

The initial diversity of opinions and the vivacity of the debate are addressed, in the mutual listening of the Holy Spirit through the witness of the action of God and the exchange of one's own judgment, to that consensus and unanimity (6|jo0u|ja56v, cf. it is the fruit of community discernment at the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church.

22   . The development of the Council of Jerusalem shows the path of the People of God live as a structured and articulated reality where everyone has a place and a specific role (see 1 Corinthians 12 :12-17, Rom 12 ;4-

5, Eph\ 4).

The apostle Paul, in the light of the Eucharistic syntax, evokes the image of the Church as the Body of Christ, to express both the unity of the organism and the diversity of its members. As in fact in the human body all the members are necessary in their specificity, so in the Church everyone enjoys the same dignity by virtue of Baptism (see Gal3:28, 1 Cor 12:13) and all must make their contribution to fulfill the design of salvation "according to the gift of Christ" ( Eph 4 ; 7).

All, therefore, are co-responsible for the life and mission of the community and all are called to work according to the law of mutual solidarity in respect of specific ministries and charisms, as each one draws his energy from the one Lord (see ICor 15,45).

23   . The goal of the People of God's path is the new Jerusalem, enveloped in the radiant splendor of God's glory, in which the celestial liturgy is celebrated. The book of the Apocalypse contemplates "the Lamb,

standing, as immolated" who redeemed for God with his blood "men of every tribe, language, people and nation" and made them, "for our God , a kingdom and priests, and they will reign over the earth the angels participate in the celestial liturgy and "myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands" with all the creatures of heaven and earth (see Rev. 5, Then the promise that encloses the deepest meaning of the divine plan of salvation will be fulfilled: "Here is the abode of God with men! He will dwell among them and they will be his people and he will be the "God-with-them" »( Rev. 21.3).

1.2. The testimonies of the Fathers and Tradition in the first millennium

24. Perseverance on the path of unity through the diversity of places and cultures, of situations and times, is the challenge to which the People is called to respond in order to walk in fidelity to the Gospel by throwing its seed in the experience of different peoples. Synodality emerged from the beginning as a guarantee and incarnation of the Church's creative fidelity to her apostolic origin and her Catholic vocation. It is expressed in a form that is unitary in substance, but which gradually becomes explicit, in the light of the scriptural attestation, in the living development of Tradition. This unitary form therefore knows different declinations according to different historical moments and in dialogue with different cultures and social situations.

25 . At the beginning of the second century, the testimony of Ignatius of Antioch describes the synodal conscience of the various local Churches which are recognized in solid expression of the one Church. In the letter he addresses to the community of Ephesus, he states that all his members are auvodoi, fellow travelers, by virtue of baptismal dignity and friendship with Christ [17] . It also emphasizes the divine order that compiles
the Church [
18], called to sing the praise of unity to God the Father in Christ Jesus [19] : the College of Presbyters is the council of the Bishop [20] and all the members of the community, each for their part, are called to build it. The ecclesial communion is produced and manifested in the Eucharistic synod presided by the Bishop, nourishing the conscience and the hope that at the end of history God will gather in his Kingdom all the communities that now live and celebrate it in faith [21] .

Fidelity to the apostolic doctrine and celebration of the Eucharist under the guidance of the Bishop, successor of the Apostles, ordained exercise of the different ministries and primacy of communion in mutual service to the praise and glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: these are the distinctive features of the true Church. Cyprian of Carthage, heir and interpreter in the middle of the III century of this Tradition, formulates the episcopal and synodal principle that must govern life and mission at the local level and at the universal level: if it is true that in the local Church should not be done nihil sine episcopo, it is equally true that it should not be done nihil sine consi/io vestro (presbyters and deacons) etsine consensu p/ebis [22]^ always keeping firm the rule according to which episcopatus unus est cuius a singulis in solidum pars tenetur[23\ .

26     . Beginning in the fourth century, ecclesiastical provinces are formed which manifest and promote communion among the local Churches and which have a Metropolitan at their head. In view of common deliberations, provincial synods are realized as specific instruments for the exercise of ecclesial synodality.

The 6th can. of the Council of Nicea (325) recognizes a pre-eminence (npeopeia) and a primacy at the regional level [24] at the offices of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch . At the Council of Constantinople I (381) the seat of Constantinople is added to the list of principal offices. The 3rd can. recognizes to the Bishop of this city a presidency of honor after the Bishop of Rome [25], a title confirmed by the 28th can. of the Council of Chalcedon (451) [26], when the seat of Jerusalem is associated with the list. This pentarchy is considered in the East as a form and guarantee of the exercise of communion and synodality between these five apostolic offices.

The Church in the West, recognizing the role of the Patriarchates in the East, does not consider the Church of Rome as a Patriarchate among others, but gives it a specific primacy within the universal Church.

27      . The apostolic canon 34 dating back to the end of the third century, well known in the East, states that any decision that goes beyond the competence of the local Church Bishop must be assumed synodically: "The Bishops of each nation (e0voq) must recognize the one who is the first (npoToq ) among themselves, and consider it their leader (KecpaAri), and do nothing important without his consent (yvcbpn) (...) but the first (npcoToq) can do nothing without the consent of all » [_27] . The synodal action in concord (opovoia) thus brought about by the Church is directed to the glorification of God the Father for Christ in the Holy Spirit. The role of npcoToq ,at the provincial and metropolitan level (and then patriarchal), it is to convoke and preside over the Synod on the respective levels to address common questions and issue the necessary resolutions by virtue of the Lord's authority (e^ouoia) expressed by the Synodally gathered Bishops.

28. Although in the Synods, periodically celebrated from the 3rd century on a diocesan and provincial level,

issues of discipline, worship and doctrine arisen in the local area are dealt with, firm belief is that the decisions taken are an expression of communion with all the Churches. This ecclesial feeling, attesting to the conscience that every local Church is an expression of the one and catholic Church, is manifested through the communication of the synodal letters, the collections of synodal canons transmitted to the other Churches, the request for mutual recognition between the different venues, the exchange of delegations that often involves tiring and dangerous journeys.

From the beginning the Church of Rome enjoys a singular consideration, in virtue of the martyrdom suffered there by the apostles Peter - whose bishop is recognized as his successor [28] - and Paul. The apostolic faith in it firmly guarded, the authoritative ministry exercised by its Bishop at the service of the communion among the Churches, the rich praxis of synodal life attested in it make it the point of reference for all the Churches, who also turn to it to settle the disputes [29], thus acting as a place of appeal [30] . The Roman office also becomes the prototype of the organization of the other Churches at both the administrative and the canonical level in the West.

29. In 325 the first ecumenical council, convoked by the emperor, is celebrated in Nicaea. It sees the presence of the Bishops from different regions of the East and the Legates of the Bishop of Rome. His profession of faith and his canonical decisions are recognized in their normative value for the whole Church, despite the troubled reception, as will happen also on other occasions throughout history. In the Council of Nicea for the first time, through the synodal exercise of the ministry of Bishops, the e^ouoia of the risen Lord who guides and guides the path of the People of God in the Holy Spirit is expressed on an universal level, successive ecumenical councils of the first millennium, through which the identity of the one and catholic Church stands out. of the heads of the different Churches, the ouvepyeia of the Bishop of Rome, the auvcppovr|ar|q of the other Patriarchs and the agreement of his teaching with that of the previous Councils [31] .

30 . As for the modusprocedendi, the Synods of the first millennium at the local level, on the one hand, refer to the Apostolic Tradition, on the other they are marked, in their concrete procedures, by the cultural context in which they take place [32] .

In the case of the Synod of a local Church, in principle, respecting their respective roles, the whole community participates in all its components [33] . In the Provincial Synods, the participants are the Bishops of the different Churches, but Presbyters and Monks can also be invited to offer their contribution. Only the Bishops participate in the Ecumenical Councils celebrated in the first millennium. It is above all the diocesan and provincial Synods to forge the synodal practice widespread in the first millennium.

1.3. The development of synodal praxis in the 2nd millennium

31. With the beginning of the second millennium, the synodal practice gradually assumes different procedural forms in the West and in the East, in particular after the breaking of the communion between the Church of Constantinople and the Church of Rome (11th century) and the fall of the ecclesiastical territories relevant to the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem under the political control of Islam.

In the Eastern Churches the synodal practice continues according to the Tradition of the Fathers, particularly on the level of patriarchal and metropolitan Synods, but extraordinary Synods are also celebrated with the participation of the Patriarchs and Metropolitans. In Constantinople the activity of a permanent Synod (Zuvo5oq ev5r||jouoa) was consolidated, known since the 4th century BC. also in Alexandria and Antioch, with regular assemblies to examine liturgical, canonical and practical questions and with different procedural forms in the Byzantine period and, after 1454, in the Ottoman period. The practice of the permanent synod is alive to date in the Orthodox Churches.

32   . In the Catholic Church the Gregorian reform and the struggle for libertas Ecdesiae contribute to the affirmation of the primacy of the Pope. Who, if on the one hand liberates the Bishops from subordination to the Emperor, on the other, if not well understood, risks weaken the conscience of local Churches.

The Roman Synod, which since the fifth century served as the council of the Bishop of Rome and in addition to the Bishops of the Roman province, also Bishops present in Rome at the time of the celebration, together with the presbyters and deacons, becomes the model of the Councils of the Middle Ages. They are presided over by the Pope or his Legate, they are not exclusively assemblies of Bishops and ecclesiastics, but expressions of Western Christianitas 'm which they sit in different roles, alongside the ecclesiastical authorities (Bishops, Abbots and Superiors of Religious Orders), also the authorities civilians (representatives of the Emperor, the kings and great dignitaries) and theologians and canonists .

33   . On the level of local Churches, also following the extensive synodal practice exercised in the Western Roman Empire established by Charlemagne, the Synods lose their purely ecclesial character and take the form of national or national Synods, attended by the Bishops and others, ecclesiastical authorities under the presidency of the King.

During the Middle Ages there were no examples of revitalization of the synodal practice in the broadest sense of the word. Thus, for example, by the Monks of Cluny. A contribution to keep alive the synodal praxis also the Chapters of Catholic Churches, as well as the new communities of religious life, in particular the Mendicant Orders [34] ■                                                                                              8/35

34   . A singular case is produced, on the end of the Middle Ages, on the occasion of the Western Schism (1378­1417), with the simultaneous presence of two and then even three pretenders to the papal title. The solution of the intricate question is produced by the Council of Constance (1414-1418), through the application of the ecclesiastical emergency right provided by medieval canonistics, proceeding to the election of the legitimate Pope. In this situation, however, the conciliarist thesis is aimed at establishing the superiority of a permanent conciliar regime on the primacy of the Pope.

Conciliarism in its theological justification and in its practical configuration is judged not to conform to the legacy of Tradition. However, he gives a lesson to the history of the Church: the dangers of schism always lurking can not be avoided and the continuous reform />7the Church's capacities and membris can not be achieved without a correct exercise of that synodal practice which, in the tradition as its own guarantee the primacy authority of the Pope.

35   . A century later, the Catholic Church, in response to the crisis triggered by the Protestant reform,

celebrated the Council of Trent. It is the first Council of modernity that qualifies for some characteristics: it no longer has the figure of a Council of the Christianitas as in the Middle Ages, sees the participation of the Bishops together with the Superiors of the religious Orders and of the monastic Congregations, while the Legates of the Princes, though participating in the sessions, they do not have the right to vote.

The Council establishes the norm of the celebration of the diocesan Synods every year and of the provincial ones every three years, contributing to transmitting the impulse of the Tridentine reform to the whole Church. An example and model is the action of St. Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, who calls 5 provincial and 11 diocesan synods along his ministry. A similar initiative in America is undertaken by San Turibio de Mogrovejo, Bishop of Lima, who convenes 3 Provincial Councils and 13 Diocesan Synods, to which are added the three Provincial Councils in Mexico in the same century.

The diocesan and provincial synods celebrated after the Council of Trent did not aim, according to the culture of the time, the active involvement of the entire People of God - the congregatio fideiium -, but transmit and put in place rules and regulations. The apologetic reaction to the criticism of ecclesiastical authority by the Protestant reform and its contestation by numerous strands of modern thought, accentuated the hierarchical vision of the Church as societasperfecta et inaequaiium, coming to identify in the Pastors, with the Pope at the top, the Ecc/esia docens and in the rest of the People of God the Ecc/esia discens.

36   . The ecclesial communities born of the Protestant reform promote a specific form of synodal praxis, in the context of an ecclesiology and a sacramental and ministerial doctrine and practice that deviate from the Catholic Tradition.

The synodal government of the ecclesial community, in which a certain number of faithful participates by virtue of the common priesthood deriving from Baptism, is considered the most appropriate structure for the life of the Christian community according to Lutheran confession. All the faithful are called to take part in the election of ministers and to take care of fidelity to the teaching of the Gospel and of the ecclesiastical system. In general, this prerogative is exercised by civilian rulers, giving rise in the past to a regime of close ties with the state.

In the Church communities of the Reformed tradition the doctrine of the four ministries (pastors, doctors, presbyters, deacons) of Giovanni Calvino is affirmed, according to which the figure of the presbyter represents the dignity and the powers conferred on all the faithful with Baptism. The priests, together with the pastors, are therefore responsible for the local community, while the synodal practice foresees the presence of the assembly of the doctors, of the other ministers and of a majority of lay faithful.

Synodal practice remains a constant in the life of the Anglican Communion at all levels - local, national and supranational. The expression according to which it is synodicaiiygoverned, but episcopally led, does not simply mean a division between legislative power (proper to the Synods, involving all the members of the People of God) and executive power (specific to the Bishops), but rather synergy between the charism and the

personal authority of the Bishops, on the one hand, and on the other, the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out on the whole community.

37.        The First Vatican Council (1869-1870) establishes the doctrine of the primacy and infallibility of the Pope. The primacy of the Bishop of Rome, so "in blessed Peter the principle and perpetual and visible foundation of unity is established faith and communion ", is presented by the Council as the ministry placed to guarantee the unity and indivisibility of the episcopate at the service of the faith of the People of God [35] . The formula according to which the ex cathedra definitions of the Pope are irreformable "for themselves and not by virtue of the consent of the Church" [36] "does not make consensus ecr/es/aesuperfluous "but affirms the exercise of authority that is proper to the Pope by virtue of his specific ministry [37] . This is attested by the consultation, conducted through the Bishops to the entire People of God, commissioned by Blessed Pius IX in view of defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception [38], a practice followed by Pius XII with reference to the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary [39] .

38.        The need for a pertinent and consistent relaunching of the Synodal praxis in the Catholic Church is already announced in the nineteenth century thanks to the work of some prophetic voices such as Johann Adam Mohler (1796-1838), Antonio Rosmini (1797-1855) and John Henry Newman (1801-1890), who refer to the normative sources of Scripture and Tradition, announcing the renewal propitiated by the biblical, liturgical and patristic movements. They underline as primary and fundamental, in the life of the Church, the dimension of communion which implies an ordered synodal practice at the various levels, with the enhancement of

the sensus fidei fideliurrm intrinsic relationship with the specific ministry of the Bishops and the Pope. Also the emergence of a new climate in ecumenical relations with the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and a more careful discernment of the requests advanced by the modern conscience with regard to the participation of all citizens to the management of public affairs, they push for a renewed and deepened experience and presentation of the mystery of the Church in its intrinsic synodal dimension.

39      . We must not forget the birth and the progressive consolidation, starting from the second half of the nineteenth century, of a new institution which, without yet enjoying a precise canonical profile, sees the Bishops of the same nation gathering in Episcopal Conferences: a sign of the reawakening of a collegial interpretation of the exercise of the episcopal ministry in reference to a specific territory and in consideration of the changed geopolitical conditions. In the same spirit, on the eve of the twentieth century it is celebrated in Rome, convened by Leo XIII,. a Latin American plenary council, which sees the participation of the Metropolitans of the ecclesiastical provinces of the Continent (1899). On the front of theology and of the ecclesial experience, the conscience grows that "the Church is not identified with her Pastors, that the whole Church, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is the subject or the" organ "of Tradition , and that the laity have an active role in the transmission of the apostolic faith " [40] .

40     . The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council incorporates the design of Vatican I and integrates it in the perspective of an overall "updating", assuming the gains gained in previous decades and composing them in a rich synthesis in the light of Tradition.

The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium illustrates a vision of the nature and mission of the Church as a communion in which the theological assumptions are traced for a pertinent relaunch of synodality: the mystery and sacramental conception of the Church; his nature as a People of God, pilgrim in history to the heavenly homeland, in which all the members are given by the Baptism of the same dignity as children of God and invested with the same mission; the doctrine of the sacramentality of the episcopate and of collegiality in hierarchical communion with the Bishop of Rome.

The Decree Christus Dominus emphasizes the subjectivity of the particular Church and urges the Bishops to exercise the pastoral care of the Church entrusted to them in communion with the presbyter, availing themselves of the help of a specific senate or council of priests and formulating an invitation to that in each diocese is to set up a pastoral council, of which priests, religious and laity belong . It also expresses the wish, on the level of communion among the local Churches in a region, that the venerable institution of the Synods and Provincial Councils will regain new vigor, and is invited to promote the Institute of Episcopal

Conferences. In the Decree Orientalium Ecdesiarum the patriarchal institution and its synodal form are valued in relation to the Eastern Catholic Churches.

41. With regard to the revitalization of the Synodal praxis on the level of the universal Church, Blessed Paul VI establishes the Synod of Bishops. It is a "permanent council of Bishops for the universal Church", subject directly and immediately to the power of the Pope, who "has the task of giving information and advice" and that "he will also be able to enjoy deliberative power, when he has been conferred by the Roman Pontiff " [41] . This institution aims to continue to bring the benefits of communion lived during the Council to the People of God.

St. John Paul II, on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Year 2000, draws a balance on the journey undertaken to embody in conformity with the teaching of Vatican II the very essence of the mystery of the Church through the various structures of communion. Much has been done - he underlines - but "much remains to be done to better express the potential of these instruments of communion ...(e) respond promptly and effectively to the problems that the Church has to face in the rapid changes of our time" [42] .

In the now more than fifty years since the last Council to date the conscience of the communal nature of the Church has matured in ever wider strata of the People of God and positive experiences of synodality have been produced at the diocesan, regional and universal level. In particular, 14 Ordinary General Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops were held, the experience and activity of the Episcopal Conferences were consolidated and synodal assemblies were held everywhere. Furthermore, councils have been established that have fostered communion and cooperation between the local Churches and the Episcopates to draw up pastoral lines at the regional and continental levels.



42 . The teaching of Scripture and Tradition attests that synodality is the constitutive dimension of the Church, which through it is manifested and configures as the People of God on the way and assembly convened by the risen Lord. In chapter 1, in particular, the exemplary and normative character of the Council of Jerusalem was highlighted (Acts 15,4-29). It shows, in the face of a decisive challenge for the early Church, the method of community and apostolic discernment which is an expression of the very nature of the Church, a mystery of communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit [43]. Synodality does not designate a simple operative procedure, but the peculiar form in which the Church lives and works. In this perspective, in the light of the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, this chapter focuses on the foundations and the theological contents of synodality.

2.1. The theological foundations of synodality

43.      The Church is de Trinitate plebs assembled[44] called and qualified as the People of God to direct her journey in the mission "to the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit" [45] . In this way the Church participates in Christ Jesus and through the Holy Spirit, in the life of communion of the Most Holy Trinity destined to embrace the whole of humanity [46] . In the gift and commitment of communion the source, the form and the purpose of synodality are found in that it expresses the specific modus vivendi et operandi the People of God in the responsible and orderly participation of all its members in the discernment and implementation of the ways of his mission. In the exercise of synodality, the vocation of the human person is translated to live the communion that is realized through the sincere gift of self, in union with God and in unity with the brothers and sisters in Christ [47] .

44.        To implement the plan of salvation the risen Jesus communicated the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles (see John 20,22). On the day of Pentecost the Spirit of God has been poured out on all those who, coming from everywhere, listen to and welcome the kerygma, foreshadowing the universal convocation of all peoples in the one People of God (see Acts2\ll). The Holy Spirit, from the heart of hearts, animates and molds the communion and mission of the Church, Body of Christ and living Temple of the Spirit (see .7/72:21; 1 Cor2 :1- 11). "To believe that the Church is Holy and Catholic and One and Apostolic is inseparable from faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit" [48] .                                                                                            11 /35

45     . The Church is one because it has its source, its model and its goal in the unity of the Most Holy Trinity (see Jn 17 ; 21-22). It is the pilgrim People of God on earth to reconcile all men in the unity of the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor 12 ; 4).

The Church is /70/y because it is the work of the Most Holy Trinity (see 2 Corinthians 13,13): sanctified by the grace of Christ, who gave herself as a Spouse to the Bride (see Eph 5,23) and vivified by the love of Father poured out of hearts through the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5 ; 5). In it the communio sanctorum is realized in its double meaning of communion with the holy realities ( sanctajanti of communion among the sanctified persons ( sancti) [49]. Thus, the Holy People of God walk towards the perfection of holiness which is the vocation of all its members, accompanied by the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Martyrs and Saints, being constituted and sent as a universal sacrament of unity and salvation.

The Church is Catholic because it preserves the integrity and the totality of the faith (see Mt 16,16) and is sent to gather together in one holy People all the peoples of the earth (see Mt 28:19). It is apostolic because it is built on the foundation of the Apostles (see Eph 2:20), because faithfully it transmits their faith and because it is taught, sanctified and governed by their successors (see Ats20.19).

46     . The action of the Spirit in the communion of the Body of Christ and in the missionary journey of the People of God is the principle of synodality. In fact, being the nexus amoris 'm the life of God the Trinity, he communicates this same love to the Church which is built up as Koivcovia Touayiou

nveupaToq ( 2Cor 13,13). The gift of the Holy Spirit, the same and the same in all the baptized, manifests itself in many forms: the equal dignity of the baptized; the universal vocation to holiness [50]; the participation of all the faithful in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Jesus Christ; the wealth of hierarchical and charismatic gifts [51]; the life and mission of every local Church.

47     . The Synodal path of the Church is shaped and nourished by the Eucharist. It is "the center of all Christian life for the universal Church, for the local Churches and for the Christian faithful". [52] Synodality has its source and its culmination in the liturgical celebration and in singular form in the full, conscious and active participation in the Eucharistic syntax [53] . Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ means that "although we are many, we are one bread and one body, because we all share one bread" (1 Cor 11:17).

The Eucharist represents and visibly realizes the belonging to the Body of Christ and the co-belonging among Christians (1 Co/12:12). Around the Eucharistic table the different local Churches are constituted and meet in the unity of the one Church. The Eucharistic syntax expresses and realizes the ecclesial "we" of the communio sanctorum in which the faithful are shared in the multiform divine grace. The Ordo adSynodum, from the Councils of Toledo of the seventh century to the Caerimoniale Episcoporump ro m u I gated in 1984, shows the liturgical nature of the synodal assembly foreseeing at its beginning and as its center the celebration of the Eucharist and the enthronement of the Gospel.

48      . The Lord spreads his Spirit in every place and in every time on the People of God to make him share in his life, nourishing him with the Eucharist and guiding him in synodal communion. "To be truly" synodal "therefore is to advance in harmony under the impulse of the Spirit" [54] . Although the synodal processes and events have a beginning, a development and a conclusion, synodality describes in a specific form the historical path of the Church as such, it animates its structures and directs its mission. The Trinitarian and anthropological, Christological, pneumatological and Eucharistic dimensions of the divine plan of salvation that is realized in the mystery of the Church describe the theological horizon within which the synodality has stood out and implemented through the centuries.

2.2. The synodal journey of the pilgrim and missionary People of God

49     . Synodality manifests the "pilgrim" character of the Church. The image of the People of God, summoned among the nations (Acts2.\ 1-9, 15: 14), expresses its social, historical and missionary dimension, which corresponds to the condition and vocation of the human being as a homo viator. The path is the image that illuminates the intelligence of the mystery of Christ as the Way that leads to the Father [55] . Jesus is the way
of God towards man and of these towards God [
56] . The graceful event with which he became a pilgrim, by planting his tent among us ( Jn 1:14), is prolonged in the synodal journey of the Church.

50 . The Church walks with Christ, through Christ and in Christ. He, the Wanderer, the Way and the Fatherland, gives his Spirit of love ( Rom 5 ; 5) because in him we can follow the "most perfect way" (1 Cor 12:31). The Church is called to follow in the footsteps of her Lord until He returns (1 Cor 11:26). It is the People of the Way (Acts9,2; 18,25; 19,9) towards the heavenly Kingdom ( Phi/3.20). Synodality is the historical form of his walking in communion until the final repose ( Heb 3.7-4.44). Faith, hope and charity guide and inform the pilgrimage of the assembly of the Lord "in view of the future city" ( Heb3\ 14). Christians are "people of passage and foreigners" in the world ( 1 Pet2:11), honored with the gift and responsibility of announcing the Gospel of the Kingdom to all.

51. The People of God is on the way until the end of time ( Mt 28.20) and up to the ends of the earth (Acts 1 ; 8). The Church lives through space in the different local Churches and walks through time from the Easter of Jesus to her parousia. It constitutes a singular historical subject in which the eschatological destiny of the definitive union with God and of the unity of the human family in Christ is already present and operative [57] . The synodal form of his journey expresses and promotes the exercise of communion in each of the local pilgrim Churches and among them in the one Church of Christ.

52     . The synodal dimension of the Church implies communion in the living Tradition of the faith of the different local Churches among themselves and with the Church of Rome, both in a diachronic sense - antiquitas- and in a synchronic sense - universitas. The transmission and reception of the symbols of the faith and of the decisions of the local, provincial and, specifically, universal synods of the Ecumenical Councils, has expressed and guaranteed in a normative way the communion in the faith professed by the Church everywhere, always and by everyone ( quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est) [58] .

53     . Synodality is lived in the Church at the service of the mission. Ecc/esia peregrinans nature its missionary east [59], it exists to evangelize [60] . The whole People of God is the subject of the proclamation of the Gospel [61] . In it, every Baptized person is summoned to be the protagonist of the mission because we are all missionary disciples. The Church is called to activate the ministries and charisms present in her life in synergy synergy to discern the ways of evangelization in listening to the voice of the Spirit.

2.3. The synodality expression of the ecclesiology of communion

54      . The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium offers the essential principles for a pertinent understanding of synodality in the perspective of the ecclesiology of communion. The order of its first chapters expresses an important gain in the self-consciousness of the Church. The sequence: Mystery of the Church (chapter 1), People of God (chapter 2), hierarchical constitution of the Church (chapter 3), emphasizes that the ecclesiastical hierarchy is placed at the service of the People of God so that the Church's mission may actualize in conformity with the divine plan of salvation, in the logic of the priority of everything above the parts and of the end above the means.

55     . Synodality expresses the being the subject of the whole Church and of everyone in the Church. Believers are ouvo5oi, companions on the journey, called to be active subjects as participants in the one priesthood of Christ [62] and recipients of the different charisms bestowed by the Holy Spirit [63] in view of the common good. Synodal life testifies to a Church made up of free and different subjects, united in communion, which is manifested in a dynamic form as a single community subject which, resting on the cornerstone that is Christ and on the columns that are the Apostles, is built like many stones he lives in a "spiritual house" (see 1 Pet2\ 5), "the dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Eph 2:22).

56     . All the faithful are called to bear witness and to proclaim the Word of truth and life, as they are members of the prophetic, priestly and royal People of God by virtue of Baptism [64] . The Bishops exercise their specific apostolic authority in teaching, sanctifying and governing the particular Church entrusted to their pastoral care in service to the mission of the People of God.

The anointing of the Holy Spirit manifests itself in the sensus fideiof the faithful [65] . "In all the baptized,

from the first to the last, the sanctifying force of the Spirit that urges us to evangelize operates. The People of God are holy because of this anointing that makes them infallible "in believing". This means that when he believes he is not mistaken, even if he does not find words to express his faith. The Spirit guides him in the truth and leads him to salvation. As part of his mystery of love for humanity, God endows the whole of the faithful with an instinct of faith - the sensus fidei - that helps them discern what really comes from God. The presence of the Spirit grants to Christians a certain connaturality with the divine realities and a wisdom that allows them to grasp them intuitively » [66] . This connaturality is expressed in the " sentire cum Ecciesia: to feel, to feel and to perceive in harmony with the Church. It is required not only to theologians, but to all the faithful; unites all the members of the People of God in their pilgrimage. It is the key to their "walking together" » [67] .

57     . Assuming the ecclesiological perspective of Vatican II. Pope Francis outlines the image of a Synodal Church as "an inverted pyramid" that integrates the People of God, the Episcopal College and in it, with its specific ministry of unity, the Successor of Peter. In it, the summit lies below the base.

"Synodality, as a constitutive dimension of the Church, offers us the most adequate interpretative framework for understanding the hierarchical ministry itself. (...) Jesus established the Church by placing at the top of the Apostolic College, in which the apostle Peter is the "rock" (see Mt 16.18), the one who must "confirm" the brothers in the faith (see Lk. 22,32). But in this Church, as in an inverted pyramid, the summit lies below the base. This is why those who exercise authority are called "ministers": because, according to the original meaning of the word, they are the smallest of all" [68] .

2.4. Synodality in the dynamism of Catholic communion

58      . Synodality is a living expression of the catholicity of the Church communion. In the Church Christ is present as the Head united with his Body ( Eph 1,22-23) so that it receives from him the fullness of the means of salvation. The Church is also catholic because it is sent to all men to unite the whole human family in the plural richness of its cultural expressions, under the lordship of Christ and in the unity of his Spirit. The synodal journey expresses and promotes its catholicity in this double sense: it exhibits the dynamic form in which the fullness of faith is shared by all the members of the People of God and encourages their communication to all men and to all peoples.

59     . As a Catholic, the Church realizes the universal in the local and the local in the universal. The particularity of the Church in one place is realized within the universal Church and the universal Church is manifested and realized in the local Churches and in their mutual communion and with the Church of Rome.

"A particular Church, which voluntarily separated itself from the universal Church, would lose its reference to God's plan (...). The Church as a whole is becoming an abstraction if it does not take body and life precisely through the particular Churches. Only a constant attention to the two poles of the Church will enable us to perceive the richness of this relationship " [69] .

60     . The intrinsic correlation of these two poles can be expressed as the mutual inhabitation of the universal and the local in the one Church of Christ. In the Church as Catholic, variety is not mere coexistence but interpenetration in mutual correlation and dependence: an ecclesiological pericoresis'm which Trinitarian communion meets its ecclesial image. The communion of Churches among them in the one universal Church illumines the ecclesiological meaning of the collegial "we" of the episcopate gathered in the cum Petro etsub Petro unit.

61. Local Churches are community subjects that realize the unique People of God in the different cultural and social contexts in an original way and share their gifts in a reciprocal exchange to promote "bonds of intimate communion" [ZO] . The variety of the local Churches - with their ecclesiastical disciplines, their liturgical rites, their theological heritages, their spiritual gifts and their canonical norms - "shows very clearly the catholicity of the undivided Church" [Zl] . The ministry of Peter, centrum unitatis, "protects legitimate differences and simultaneously watches for divergences to serve unity instead of damaging it" [72]. The Petrine ministry is

placed at the service of the unity of the Church and at the guarantee of the particularity of each local Church. Synodality describes the path to follow in order to promote the catholicity of the Church in discerning the ways to travel together in the universal Church and distinctly in each particular Church.

2.5. Synodality in the tradition of apostolic communion

62      . The Church is apostolic in a threefold sense: inasmuch as it has been and is continuously built on the foundation of the Apostles (see Eph 2:20); inasmuch as it conserves and transmits, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, their teachings (see Acts2A2, 2 Tim 1:13-14); as it continues to be guided by the Apostles through the college of Bishops, their successors and pastors of the Church (Acts 20 j_28 ) [Z3] . Here we focus our attention on the relationship between the Synodal life of the Church and the apostolic ministry which is actualized in the ministry of Bishops in collegial and hierarchical communion with each other and with the Bishop of Rome.

63     . The Lumen gentium teaches that Jesus constituted the Twelve "in the manner of a college ( collegium),

that is, of a stable class ( coetus), of which he put Peter at the head, chosen among them" [74] . He affirms that the episcopal succession is carried out through the consecration of the Bishops, which gives them the fullness of the sacrament of the Order and inserts them into collegial and hierarchical communion with the head and the members of the college [Z5]±. He therefore declares that the episcopal ministry, in correspondence and deriving from the apostolic ministry, has a collegial and hierarchical form. It illustrates the bond between the sacramentality of the episcopate and the episcopal collegiality overcoming the interpretation that freed the episcopal ministry from its sacramental root and weakened the collegial dimension attested by Tradition. [76] . Thus, in the framework of the ecclesiology of communion and collegiality, it integrates the doctrine of Vatican I on the Bishop of Rome as the "visible principle and foundation of the communion of bishops and of the multitude of the faithful" [ZZ] .

64      . On the basis of the doctrine of the sensus fideiof the People of God and of the sacramental collegiality of the episcopate in hierarchical communion with the Pope, one can deepen the theology of synodality. The synodal dimension of the Church expresses the character of an active subject of all the baptized and at the same time the specific role of the episcopal ministry in collegial and hierarchical communion with the Bishop of Rome.

This ecclesiological vision invites us to promote the unfolding of the synodal communion between "all", "some" and "one". At different levels and in different forms, on the level of the particular Churches, on that of their groupings at the regional level and on that of the universal Church, synodality implies the exercise of the sensus fidei of the universitas fidelium (all), the ministry of college of Bishops, each with its presbytery (some), and the ministry of unity of the bishop and of the Pope (one). Thus, in the synodal dynamics, the community aspect that includes the whole People of God, the collegial dimension relative to the exercise of the episcopal ministry and the primatial ministry of the Bishop of Rome are thus conjugated.

This correlation promotes that singu/aris conspiratio between the faithful and the Pastors [Z8] which is an icon of the eternal conspiratio lived in the Holy Trinity. Thus the Church "tends incessantly to the fullness of divine truth, until the words of God come to pass in it" [Z9] .

65     . The renewal of the Synodal life of the Church requires activating processes of consultation of the entire People of God. "The practice of consulting the faithful is not new in the life of the Church. In the Church of the Middle Ages a principle of Roman law was used: Quodomnes tangit, ab omibus tractarietapprobari

debet (what concerns everyone must be treated and approved by everyone). In the three fields of the life of the Church (faith, sacraments, government), tradition united a hierarchical structure with a concrete regime of association and agreement, and was considered to be an apostolic practice or an apostolic tradition " [80]. This axiom should not be understood in the sense of conciliarism at the ecclesiological level or of parliamentarism at the political level. Rather, it helps to think and exercise synodality in the bosom of ecclesial communion.

66     . In the Catholic and apostolic vision of synodality there is mutual implication between the communio fidelium, the communio episcoporum and the communio ecciesiarum. The concept of synodality is broader
than that of collegiality, because it includes the participation of everyone in the Church and of all the Churches. Collegiality properly expresses the rise and expression of the communion of the People of God in the episcopal class, that is, in the college of the Bishops
cum Petro and sub Petro, and through it the communion among all the Churches. The notion of synodality implies that of collegiality, and vice versa, since the two realities, being distinct, support each other and authenticate each other. The teaching of the Vatican II on the sacramentality of the episcopate and collegiality is a fundamental theological premise for a correct and integral theology of synodality.

2.6. Participation and authority in the Synodal life of the Church

67      . A Synodal Church is a participatory and co-responsible Church. In the exercise of synodality it is called to articulate the participation of all, according to the vocation of each one, with the authority conferred by Christ to the College of Bishops headed by the Pope. Participation is based on the fact that all the faithful are enabled, and called to place the respective gifts received from the Holy Spirit at the service of one another. The authority of the Pastors is a specific gift of the Spirit of Christ Head for the building up of the whole Body, not a delegated and representative function of the people. On this point it is opportune to make two clarifications.

68     . The first refers to the meaning and value of the consultation of all in the Church. The distinction between deliberative vote and consultative vote must not lead to an underestimation of the opinions and votes expressed in the various synodal assemblies and in the various councils. The expression votum tantum consu/tivum, to designate the weight of the evaluations and proposals made in these advanced places, is inadequate if we understand it according to the mens of civil law in its various expressions [81] .

The consultation expressed in the synodal assemblies is in fact differently qualified, because the members of the People of God who participate in it respond to the Lord's call, they listen to what the Spirit says to the Church through the Word of God that resounds in actuality and interprets, with the eyes of faith the signs of the times. In the Synodal Church the whole community, in the free and rich diversity of its members, is called to pray, listen, analyze, dialogue, discern and advise in taking pastoral decisions that are more in conformity with the will of God. In order to formulate their own decisions, the Pastors must therefore listen carefully to their wishes ( vote) of the faithful. Canon law requires that, in specific cases, they must operate only after having solicited and acquired the various opinions according to the juridically determined formalities [82] .

69      . The second clarification concerns the proper function of governing Pastors [83] . There is no externality or separation between the community and its Pastors - who are called to act in the name of the one Shepherd - but the distinction of tasks in the reciprocity of communion. A synod, an assembly, a council can not make decisions without the legitimate Pastors. The synodal process must take place within a hierarchically structured community. For example, in a diocese, it is necessary to distinguish between the process to elaborate a decision ( decision-making) through a common work of discernment, consultation and cooperation, and the taking of pastoral decision ( decision-taking).) which belongs to the authority of the Bishop, guarantor of apostolicity and catholicity. The elaboration is a synodal task, the decision is a ministerial responsibility. A pertinent exercise of synodality must contribute to a better articulation of the ministry of personal and collegial exercise of apostolic authority with the synodal exercise of discernment by the community.

70     . In summary, in light of its normative sources and its theological foundations, referred to in chapters 1 and 2, one can sketch a detailed description of synodality as constitutive dimension of the Church.

a) Synodality refers first of all to the peculiar style which characterizes the life and mission of the Church, expressing its nature as walking together and uniting in the assembly of the People of God summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. It must be expressed in the ordinary way of living and working of the Church. This modus vivendiet operandi\s realized through the community listening of the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist, the fraternity of communion and the co-responsibility and participation of the whole People of God, at its various levels and in the distinction of different ministries and roles, to his life and his mission .

b)   Synodality then designates, in a more specific and determined sense from the theological and canonical point of view, those structures and ecclesial processes i n which the synodal nature of the Church is expressed at the institutional level, in a similar way, on the various levels of its realization. : local, regional, universal. These structures and processes are at the service of the authoritative discernment of the Church, called to identify the direction to follow in listening to the Holy Spirit.

c)  Synodality finally designates the punctual occurrence of those Synodal events in which the Church is called by the competent authority and according to specific procedures determined by ecclesiastical discipline, involving in different ways, on the local, regional and universal level, the whole People of God under the presidency of the Bishops in collegial and hierarchical communion with the Bishop of Rome, for the discernment of his journey and of particular issues, and for the assumption of decisions and orientations in order to fulfill his evangelizing mission.




71. The theological intelligence of synodality in the ecclesiological perspective of the Second Vatican Council invites us to reflect on the concrete modalities of its implementation. It is a matter of reviewing, in broad terms, what is currently foreseen by the canonical order to highlight its meaning and potential and give it new impetus, discerning at the same time the theological perspectives of its pertinent development. This chapter starts from the Synodal vocation of the People of God and then describes the synodal structures at the local, regional and universal levels, mentioning the various subjects involved in the processes and in the Synod events.

3.1. The synodal vocation of the People of God

72     . The entire People of God is called upon by their original synodal vocation. The circularity between the sensus fideiof which all the faithful are honored, the discernment effected at the different levels of realization of synodality and the authority of those who exercise the pastoral ministry of unity and government, describes the dynamics of synodality. This circularity promotes the baptismal dignity and co-responsibility of all, enhances the presence of the charisms disseminated by the Holy Spirit in the People of God, recognizes the specific ministry of Pastors in collegial and hierarchical communion with the Bishop of Rome, ensuring that processes and events Synodal events take place in fidelity to the depositum fidei and listening to the Holy Spirit for the renewal of the Church's mission.

73     . In this perspective, the participation of the lay faithful is essential. They are the immense majority of the People of God and we have much to learn from their participation in the various expressions of the life and mission of the ecclesial communities, of popular piety and of general pastoral care, as well as of their specific competence in the various fields, of cultural and social life [84] .

This is why their consultation is indispensable in starting the processes of discernment within the framework of the synodal structures. It is therefore necessary to overcome the obstacles represented by the lack of formation and recognized spaces in which the lay faithful can express themselves and act, and from a clerical mentality that risks to keep them at the margins of ecclesial life [85] . This calls for a priority commitment in the work of formation to a mature ecclesial conscience, which must be translated at institutional level into a regular synodal practice.

74     . The principle of co-essentiality between hierarchical gifts and charismatic gifts in the Church on the basis of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council should also be valued decisively [86]„ It involves the involvement of the Church in the synodal life of the communities of consecrated life, of the movements and of the new ecclesial communities. All these realities, often created by the impulse of charisms given by the Holy Spirit for the renewal of the life and mission of the Church, can offer significant experiences of synodal articulation of the life of communion and the dynamics of community discernment put in place within them,                                                                                            17/35
together with stimuli in identifying new ways of evangelization. In some cases, they also propose examples of integration among the various ecclesial vocations in the perspective of ecclesiology of communion.

75. In the Synodal vocation of the Church, the charism of theology is called to carry out a specific service by listening to the Word of God, the wisdom, scientific and prophetic understanding of the faith, the evangelical discernment of the signs of the times, dialogue with society and cultures at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. Together with the experience of faith and the contemplation of the truth of the faithful people and with the preaching of the Pastors, theology contributes to the ever deeper penetration of the Gospel [8Z] . Moreover, "as for any other Christian vocation, the ministry of the theologian, in addition to being personal, is also community and collegia!" [88]. Ecclesial synodality therefore commits theologians to do theology in a synodal form, promoting among them the capacity to listen, to dialogue, to discern and integrate the multiplicity and variety of the instances and contributions.

76     . The synodal dimension of the Church must be expressed through the implementation and governance of processes of participation and discernment capable of manifesting the dynamism of communion that inspires all ecclesial decisions. Synodal life is expressed in institutional structures and in processes that lead, through different phases (preparation, celebration, reception), to synodal events in which the Church is convened according to the various levels of implementation of its constitutive synodality.

This commitment requires attentive listening to the Holy Spirit, of fidelity to the Church's doctrine and at the same time of creativity to identify and make operative the most suitable instruments for the ordered participation of all, the exchange of respective gifts, the incisive reading of the signs of the times., effective planning in the mission. To this end, the implementation of the Synodal dimension of the Church must integrate and update the patrimony of the ancient ecclesiastical system with the synodal structures that emerged as a result of Vatican II and must be open to the creation of new structures [89] .

3.2 Synodality in the particular Church

77     . The first level of the exercise of synodality takes place in the particular Church. In it is realized "a special manifestation of the Church in the full and active participation of all the Holy People of God at the same liturgical celebrations, especially to the same eucharist, to the same prayer, to the same altar to which the bishop surrounded by his priests and ministers presides" [90] .

The bonds of history, language and culture, which mold interpersonal communication and its symbolic expressions in it, delineate its peculiar face, promote in its concrete life the exercise of a synodal style and form the basis for effective missionary conversion. . In the particular Church, Christian witness is incarnated in specific human and social situations, allowing an incisive activation of the synodal structures at the service of the mission. As Pope Francis pointed out, "only to the extent that these organisms remain connected with the" bottom "and start from the people, from the problems of every day, a synodal Church can begin to take shape"[91].

3.2.1 The Diocesan Synod and the EparchialAssembly

78     . The diocesan Synod in the Churches of the Latin Rite and the Eparchial Assembly in the Eastern Rite Churches [92] represent the "summit of the Diocesan participation structures", among them occupying "a place of primary importance" [93] . In fact, they constitute the event of grace in which the People of God who live in a particular Church are summoned and gathered in the name of Christ, under the presidency of the Bishop, to discern pastoral challenges, to seek together the paths to be followed in the mission and actively cooperate in making appropriate decisions to listen to the Spirit.

79. Being at the same time "an act of government and an event of communion" [94], the diocesan Synod and the Eparchial Assembly renew and deepen the conscience of ecclesial co-responsibility of the People of God and are called to concretely outline the participation of all its members, members to the mission according to the logic of "all", "some" and "one".

The participation of "all" must be activated through consultation in the process of preparing the Synod, in order to reach all the voices that are an expression of the People of God in the particular Church. The participants in the assemblies and synods by way of office, election or episcopal appointment are the "some" who are entrusted with the task of the celebration of the Diocesan Synod or of the Eparchial Assembly. It is essential that, as a whole, the Synods offer a meaningful and balanced image of the particular Church, reflecting the diversity of vocations, ministries, charisms, skills, social background and geographical origin. The Bishop, successor of the Apostles and Shepherd of his flock, who convokes and presides the Synod of the particular Church [95], he is called to exercise the ministry of unity and guidance with his own authority.

3.2.2        Other structures at the service of the Synodal life in the particular Church

80 . In the particular Church, various bodies are appointed to support the Bishop's ministry in the ordinary pastoral guidance of the Diocese: the diocesan Curia, the College of Consultors, the Chapter of Canons and the Council for Economic Affairs. On the instructions of the Second Vatican Council, the Presbyteral Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council l"961 were established as permanent areas for the exercise and promotion of communion and synodality.

81. The presbyteral Council is presented by the Second Vatican Council as "council or senate of priests representing the presbytery" with the aim of "helping the Bishop in the government of the Diocese". In fact, the Bishop is called to listen to priests, to consult and discuss with them "about the pastoral needs and the good of the Diocese" [97] . It is inserted in a specific way in the overall synodal dynamism of the particular Church, becoming animated by its spirit and configuring itself according to its style.

The diocesan pastoral council is called to offer a qualified contribution to the overall pastoral care promoted by the bishop and his presbyterate, becoming on occasion also a place of decision under the specific authority of the bishop [98] . Because of its nature, the rate of attendance of its meetings, the procedure and the objectives of its commitment, the diocesan pastoral Council proposes itself as the permanent structure most favorable to the implementation of synodality in the particular Church.

82      . In various particular Churches, to give impetus to the implementation of Vatican II. Assemblies are also held regularly to express and promote communion and co-responsibility and to contribute to the planning of integrated pastoral care and its evaluation. These Assemblies have an important meaning in the synodal journey of the ecclesial community as a framework and ordinary preparation for the implementation of the diocesan Synod.

3.2.3        Synodality in the life of the parish

83     . The parish is the community of the faithful who realizes in a visible, immediate and daily form the mystery of the Church. In the parish we learn to live as disciples of the Lord within a network of fraternal relationships in which we experience communion in the diversity of vocations and generations, charisms, ministries and competences, forming a concrete community that lives in solidarity, his mission and his service, in the harmony of the specific contribution of each one.

84      . It includes two synodal structures: the parish pastoral council and the council for economic affairs, with the lay participation in consultation and pastoral planning. It seems necessary to revise the canonical norms that currently only suggest the constitution of the parish pastoral council making it compulsory, as did the last Synod of the Diocese of Rome [99] . The implementation of an effective synodal dynamic in the particular Church also calls for the diocesan pastoral council and the parish pastoral councils to work in a coordinated way and to be properly exploited [100] .

3.3 Synodality in particular Churches at regional level

85     . The regional level in the exercise of synodality is that experienced in the groupings of particular Churches present in the same region: a Province, as was the case especially in the early centuries of the Church, or a country, a continent or part of it. These are "organically joined" groupings, "in union of fraternal charity to promote their common good", moved "by a loving commitment to the universal mission" [101]. The

commonality of the historical origins, the cultural homogeneity, the need to face similar challenges in the mission make it possible to present the People of God in the original form in the different cultures and in different contexts. The exercise of synodality at this level promotes the common journey of the particular Churches, reinforces their spiritual and institutional bonds, fosters their exchange of gifts and tunes their pastoral choices [102] ■ In particular, synodal discernment can inspire and encourage common choices to "favor new processes of evangelization of culture" [103] .

86     . Since the first centuries, in the East as in the West, the Churches founded by an Apostle or a collaborator have played a specific role within their Province or Region, since their Bishop has been recognized as Metropolitan or Patriarch respectively. This led to the birth of specific synodal structures. In them, the Patriarchs, the Metropolitans and the Bishops of the individual Churches are expressly called to promote synodality [104], whose commitment becomes even more consistent through the maturation of the conscience of episcopal collegiality which must also be expressed at the regional level.

87      . In the Catholic Church of the Latin rite are synodal structures at the regional level: the Provincial and General Particular Councils, the Episcopal Conferences and the different groupings of these, even at the continental level; in the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite: the Patriarchal Synod and the Provincial Synod, the Assembly of the Hierarchs of various Eastern Churches sui juris I" 1051 and the Council of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East. Pope Francis defined these ecclesial structures as intermediate instances of collegiality and recalled that the hope of Vatican II "that these organisms may contribute to increasing the spirit of episcopal collegiality" [106] .

3.3.1       Special Councils

88     . The particular Councils celebrated on the regional level constitute the specific structure of the exercise of synodality in a grouping of particular Churches [107] . In fact, they contemplate the participation of the People of God in the processes of discernment and decision, so as to express not only the collegial communion between the Bishops, "but also that with all the components of the portion of the People of God entrusted to them" and consequently " communion among the Churches ", making it the" proper place for the most important decisions, especially those concerning faith " [108] . The CIC, in addition to reaffirming the pertinent scope of the synodal discernment exercised therein in the doctrine and the regime, emphasizes its pastoral character [109].

3.3.2        Episcopal Conferences

89     . The Episcopal Conferences in the context of a country or a region are a recent institute which arose in the context of the affirmation of national States and as such they have been valued by the Second Vatican Council rilOl in the perspective of the ecclesiology of communion. By expressing their episcopal collegiality,

they have as their main goal the cooperation between the Bishops for the common good of the Churches entrusted to them for the service of the mission in their respective nations. Their ecclesiological relevance was recalled by Pope Francis, who invited them to study their attributions also in the doctrinal sphere [111]. This study must be carried out by reflecting on the ecclesiological nature of the Episcopal Conferences, on their canonical status, on their concrete attributions in reference to the exercise of episcopal collegiality and the implementation of a more detailed synodal life on the regional level. In this perspective, attention must be paid to the experiences gained in recent decades as well as to the traditions, theology and the law of the Eastern Churches [112] ■

90     . The relevance of Episcopal Conferences regarding the promotion of the Synod journey of the People of God is that "the individual Bishops represent their own Church" [113]. The development of an effectively participatory methodology, with appropriate procedures for consulting the faithful and receiving the different ecclesial experiences in the phases of preparation of the pastoral guidelines issued by the Episcopal Conferences, with the participation of lay people as experts, goes in the direction of enhancing these values. Episcopal collegial structures for the implementation of synodality. Important, in view of the activation of synodal processes on the national level, are also the Ecclesial Conferences promoted by the Episcopal Conferences: as for example the ten-year Council of the Church in Italy [114] .

91.        On the level of the universal Church, a more precise procedure in the preparation of the Synod of Bishops' Assemblies may allow the Episcopal Conferences to contribute more effectively to the synodal processes involving the whole People of God, through the consultation of lay faithful and experts in the phase of preparation.

3.3.3. Patriarchates in the Eastern Catholic Churches

92.        In the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Patriarchate constitutes a synodal structure that expresses the communion between the Churches of the same province or region that have the same theological, liturgical, spiritual and canonical patrimony [115] . In the Patriarchal Synods, the exercise of collegiality and synodality requires harmony between the Patriarch and the other Bishops as representatives of their Churches. The Patriarchate promotes unity in diversity and catholicity through the communion of the faithful within the same patriarchal Church, in communion with the Bishop of Rome and the universal Church.

3.3.4 The Regional Councils of the Episcopal Conferences and the Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches

93      . The same reasons that presided over the birth of the Episcopal Conferences at the national level led to the creation of councils, at the macro-regional and continental level, of various Episcopal Conferences and, in the case of the Eastern Catholic Churches, of the Assembly of Hierarchs of Churches suiiuris and of the Council of the Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches. These structures encourage attention to the inculturation of the Gospel in different contexts, taking into account the challenge of globalization, and contribute to manifesting "the beauty of the multifaceted face of the Church" in its Catholic unity [116L Their ecclesiological significance and their canonical status should be further explored, taking into account the fact that they can promote processes of synodal participation in a "determined geocultural region" [117], starting from the specific conditions of life and culture that characterize the Churches, details that are part of it.

3.4 Synodality in the universal Church

94      . Synodality as the constitutive dimension of the Church is expressed on the level of the universal Church in the dynamic circularity of consensus fidelium, episcopal collegiality and primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Based on this foundation, the Church is challenged from time to time by circumstances and concrete challenges to respond to which, in fidelity to the depositum fideiand with creative openness to the voice of the Spirit, she is called to activate listening to all the subjects that together they form the People of God to converge in the discernment of the truth and in the journey of the mission.

95     . In this ecclesiological context the specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome stands out with regard to the exercise of synodality on the universal level. "I am persuaded - said Pope Francis - that, in a Synodal Church, even the exercise of the Petrine primacy will be able to receive more light. The Pope does not stand alone above the Church; but within it as baptized among the baptized and inside the episcopal college as a bishop among the bishops, called at the same time - as the successor of the apostle Peter - to lead the Church of Rome which presides in love all the Churches " [118] .

96     . The Episcopal College carries out an irreplaceable ministry in the exercise of synodality on the universal level. In fact, insofar as it intrinsically includes itself its Head, the Bishop of Rome, and acts in hierarchical communion with him, it is "the subject of supreme power over the whole Church" [119] .

3.4.1 The Ecumenical Council

97     . The Ecumenical Council is the most complete and solemn extraordinary event in which episcopal collegiality and ecclesial synodality are expressed on the level of the universal Church: for this reason Vatican H designates it Sacrosancta Synodus [120] . It expresses the exercise of the authority of the Episcopal College united to its Head, the Bishop of Rome, at the service of the whole Church [121] . The formula " a cum Patribus" employed by the Blessed Paul VI in the promulgation of Vatican II documents he manifests the intimate communion of the College with the Pope who presides him as the subject of the pastoral ministry on the universal Church.

98      . The Ecumenical Council constitutes the specific form of representation of the one and catholic Church as a communion of the particular Churches, since "all [the bishops] together with the Pope represent the universal Church" [122] . The representation in it of the entire People of God through the Episcopal College, with the Bishop of Rome at the head, derives from the fact that episcopal ordination gives the Bishop the presidency of a particular Church by inserting it sacramentally into the apostolic succession and the Episcopal College. Thus, the Ecumenical Council is the supreme implementation of ecclesial synodality in the Bishops' communion with the Pope as a representation of communion among the particular Churches through their Pastors,

summoned in unum for the discernment of the journey of the universal Church.

3.4.2         The Synod of Bishops

99      . The Synod of Bishops, instituted by Blessed Paul VI as a permanent synodal structure, is one of the most precious legacies ofVatican II. The Bishops who make it up represent the whole Catholic Episcopate [123], so that the Synod of Bishops shows the participation of the Episcopal College, in hierarchical communion with the Pope, in solicitude for the universal Church [124] . It is called to be "an expression of episcopal collegiality within a whole Synodal Church" [125] .

100.       Each synodal assembly develops according to successive phases: preparatory, celebratory and implementation. The history of the Church bears witness to the importance of the consultative process in order to gain the opinion of Pastors and faithful. Pope Francis has indicated a masterly line of such perfection in the wider and attentive listening of the sensus fideiof the People of God thanks to the implementation of consultation procedures on the level of particular Churches, so that the Synod of Bishops "is the point of convergence of the dynamism of listening conducted at all levels of the life of the Church " [126] .

Through the process of consulting the People of God, the ecclesial representation of the Bishops and the presidency of the Bishop of Rome, the Synod of Bishops is a privileged structure for the implementation and promotion of synodality and at all levels in the life of the Church. Through consultation, the synodal process has its starting point in the People of God and through its inculturated phase of implementation it has its point of arrival in it.

The Synod of Bishops is not the only possible form of participation by the College of Bishops in the pastoral concern for the universal Church. The CIC underlines this: "It is up to the Roman Pontiff, according to the needs of the Church, to choose and promote the ways in which the College of Bishops can exercise collegially its office for the universal Church" [127] .

3.4.3        Structures serving the synodal exercise of primacy

101.         The College of Cardinals, originally composed of Presbyters and Deacons of the Church of Rome and the Bishops of the suburbs of the dioceses, historically constitutes the Synodal Council of the Bishop of Rome, to assist it in exercising its specific ministry. This function has developed over the centuries. In its current configuration, it reflects the face of the universal Church, assists the Pope in his ministry in favor of it and for this purpose is convened in the Consistory. This function is exercised in singular form when it is convened in the Conclave to elect the Bishop of Rome.

102 . The Roman Curia [128], which by its very nature is intimately related to episcopal collegiality and ecclesial synodality, is constituted as a permanent service of the Pope's ministry in favor of the universal Church . In asking for the reform in the light of the ecclesiology of communion, Vatican II emphasized certain elements that favored the increase in synodality, including: the inclusion of diocesan bishops to "represent the mentality to the Supreme Pontiff., the desires and needs of all the Churches "and the consultation of the lay faithful" so that they too may play the role they enjoy in the life of the Church " [129] .



103. Synodality is ordered to animate the life and the evangelizing mission of the Church in union and under the guidance of the Lord Jesus who promised: "where there are two or three in my name, I am in their midst" ( Mt 18, 20), "behold I am with you until the end of the world" ( MatQ&,2G). The Synodal renewal of the Church undoubtedly passes through the revitalization of the synodal structures, but is expressed first of all in the response to the gratuitous call of God to live as his People walking in history towards the fulfillment of the Kingdom. In this chapter some specific expressions are taken into consideration: formation in the spirituality of communion and the practice of listening, dialogue and community discernment; the relevance for the ecumenical journey and for a prophetic diakonia in the construction of a fraternal, supportive and inclusive social ethos.

4.1 For the synodal renewal of the life and mission of the Church

104 . "Every renewal of the Church consists essentially of increased fidelity to her vocation" [130] . In fulfilling her mission, the Church is therefore called to a constant conversion which is also a "pastoral and missionary conversion", consisting in a renewal of mentalities, attitudes, practices and structures, in order to be ever more faithful to her vocation. [131]. An ecclesial mentality shaped by the synodal conscience welcomes and promotes grace by virtue of which all the baptized are qualified and called to be missionary disciples. The great challenge for the pastoral conversion that ensues for the life of the Church today is to intensify the mutual collaboration of everyone in the evangelizing witness starting from the gifts and roles of each one, without clericalizing the laity and without secularizing the clerics, avoiding in any case the temptation of "excessive clericalism that keeps the lay faithful on the edge of decisions" [132] .

105. Pastoral conversion for the implementation of synodality requires that some paradigms often still present in ecclesiastical culture be overcome, because they express an understanding of the Church not renewed by the ecclesiology of communion. Among them: the concentration of responsibility for the mission in the ministry of pastors; the insufficient appreciation of the consecrated life and of the charismatic gifts; the scarce valorization of the specific and qualified contribution, within their sphere of competence, of the lay faithful and women among them.

106       . In the perspective of communion and the implementation of synodality, we can point out some fundamental lines of orientation in pastoral action:

to. the activation, starting from the particular Church and at all levels, of the circularity between the ministry of Pastors, the participation and co-responsibility of the laity, the impulses coming from the charismatic gifts according to the dynamic circularity between "one", "some" and "all";

b.  the integration between the exercise of the collegiality of the Pastors and the synodality experienced by the whole People of God as an expression of communion among the particular Churches in the universal Church;

c.  the exercise of the Petrine ministry of unity and guidance of the universal Church by the Bishop of Rome in communion with all the particular Churches, in synergy with the collegial ministry of the Bishops and the synodal journey of the People of God;

d.  the opening of the Catholic Church towards the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the irreversible commitment to walking together towards full unity in the reconciled diversity of their respective traditions;

is. social diakonia and constructive dialogue with the men and women of different religious confessions and convictions in order to realize together a culture of encounter.

4.2. The spirituality of communion and formation for the synodal life

107       . The ethos of the Church People of God summoned by the Father and guided by the Holy Spirit to form in Christ "the sacrament, which is the sign and instrument, of union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" [133] it is released and nourished by personal conversion to the spirituality of

communion [134] ■ All the members of the Church are called to welcome her as a gift and commitment of the Spirit that is exercised in docility to her motions, to educate herself to live in the communion the grace received in Baptism and brought to fulfillment by the Eucharist: the paschal transit from the "I "Individualistically meant to the ecclesial" we ", where every" I", being clothed with Christ (see Gal2.20), lives and walks with the brothers and sisters as a responsible and active subject in the one mission of the People of God.

Hence the need for the Church to become "the home and school of communion" [135] . Without conversion of heart and mind and without ascetic training to the reception and mutual listening, little use would be made of the external instruments of communion, which could instead be transformed into simple masks without heart or face. "If juridical wisdom, by setting precise rules for participation, manifests the hierarchical structure of the Church and averting temptations of arbitrariness and unjustified pretensions, the spirituality of communion gives a soul to the institutional fact with an indication of trust and openness that fully responds, to the dignity and responsibility of every member of the People of God " [136] .

108       . The same provisions required to live and mature the sensusfidei, of which all believers are honored, are called for to exercise it on the synodal path. This is an essential point in the formation of the synodal spirit,

since we live in a cultural environment where the demands of the Gospel and also human virtues are often not the object of appreciation and adequate education [13Z]. Among these provisions we must remember: participation in the life of the Church centered in the Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; the exercise of listening to the Word of God to enter into dialogue with it and translate it into life; adherence to the Magisterium in its teachings of faith and morals; the awareness of being members of one another as the Body of Christ and of being sent to the brothers, starting from the poorest and most marginalized. These are summarized attitudes in the formula cum cum Ecc/esia: that "feeling, experiencing and perceiving in harmony with the Church" which "unites all the members of the People of God in their pilgrimage" and is "the key to his" walking together"» [138]. Concretely, it is a matter of bringing out the spirituality of communion "as an educational principle in all the places where man and Christian are formed, where the ministers of the altar, the consecrated, pastoral workers are educated, where the families and communities " [139] .

109       . The Eucharistic syntax is the source and the paradigm of the spirituality of communion. In it are expressed the specific elements of the Christian life called to shape the affectus sinoda/is.

to. The invocation of the Trinity . The Eucharistic syntax begins with the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity. Convened by the Father, by virtue of the Eucharist the Church becomes in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the living sacrament of Christ: "Where there are two or more gathered in my name, there are I in the midst of them" (see /W18.19 ). The unity of the Holy Trinity in the communion of the three divine Persons manifests itself in the Christian community called to live "union in truth and charity" [140], through the exercise of the respective gifts and charisms received from the Holy Spirit, in view of the common good.

b.    Reconciliation . The Eucharistic syntax encourages communion through reconciliation with God and with the brothers. The confession S//7S celebrates the merciful love of the Father and expresses the desire not to follow the path of division caused by sin but the path of unity: "When you are offering your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against of you, go first to reconcile with your brother and then present your offer"( MtS : 23-24). Synodal events involve the recognition of one's own frailties and the demand for mutual

forgiveness. Reconciliation is the way to live the new evangelization.

c.   Listening to the Word of God . In the Eucharistic syntax the Word is heard to welcome the message and to enlighten the path of it. One learns to listen to God's voice by meditating on the Scriptures, especially the Gospel, by celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist,

welcoming the brothers, especially the poor. Who exercises pastoral ministry and is called to break the bread of the Word together with the Eucharistic Bread, must know the life of the community to communicate the message of God in the here and now that it lives. The dialogical structure of the Eucharistic liturgy is the paradigm of community discernment: before listening to one another, the disciples must listen to the Word.

d. Communion . The Eucharist" creates communion and propitiates communion" with God and with the brothers [141]. Generated by Christ through the Holy Spirit, communion is shared by men and women who, having the same dignity as baptized, receive from the Father and exercise different vocations with responsibility - arising from baptism, from confirmation, from the sacred order and from specific gifts of the Holy Spirit - to form one body of many members. The rich and free convergence of this plurality in unity is what must be activated in synodal events.

is. The mission . Ite, missa est. The communion carried out by the Eucharist urges the mission. Those who participate in the Body of Christ are called to share their joyful experience with everyone. Every synodal event urges the Church to come out of the camp (see Hebrews 13.13) to bring Christ to those who are waiting for his salvation. St. Augustine affirms that we must "have one heart and one soul on the journey to God" r 1421 . The unity of the community is not true without this inner fe/osthat guides it along the paths of time towards the eschatological goal of "God all in all" (see 1 Cor. 15,28). It is always necessary to be challenged by the question: how can we truly be the Synodal Church if we do not live "outgoing" towards everyone to go together to God?

4.3. Listening and dialogue for community discernment

110 . The Synodal life of the Church is realized through the effective communication of faith, life and missionary commitment activated among all its members. It expresses the communio sanctorum that lives by prayer, takes nourishment from the sacraments, flourishes in mutual love and towards everyone, grows in participation in the joys and trials of the Bride of Christ. In the synodal journey, communication is called to make itself explicit through the community listening of the Word of God to know "what the Spirit says to the Churches" (Ap 2:29). "A Synodal Church is a Church that listens ... (...) faithful people, Episcopal College, Bishop of Rome: each one listening to others; and all listening to the Holy Spirit" [143] .

Ill. Synodal dialogue implies courage in speaking and listening. It is not a matter of engaging in a debate in which one interlocutor tries to overtake others or counteracts their positions with blunt arguments, but to express with respect what is perceived in conscience suggested by the Holy Spirit as useful in view of community discernment, open at the same time to grasp how much in the positions of others it is suggested by the same Spirit "for the common good" (see ICor 12,7).

The criterion that "unity prevails over conflict" applies specifically to the exercise of dialogue, to the management of diversity of opinions and experiences, to learn "a style of building history, a vital area where conflicts , tensions and opposites can reach a pluriform unity that generates new life ", making possible the development of' a communion in differences " [144] . In fact, dialogue offers the opportunity to acquire new perspectives and new points of view to illuminate the enforcement of the topic in question.

It is a matter of exercising "a relational way of looking at the world, which becomes shared knowledge, a vision in the vision of the other and a common vision of all things" [145] . For Blessed Paul VI, true dialogue is a spiritual communication [146] that requires specific attitudes: love, respect, trust and prudence [147], in "a climate of friendship, more, service" I" 1481 . Because the truth - underlines Benedict XVI - "is logos that creates diaiogosvnA, therefore, communication and communion" [149] .

112 . An essential attitude in synodal dialogue is humility, which propitiates the obedience of each person to the will of God and mutual obedience in Christ [150]. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, illustrates its meaning and dynamics in relation to the life of communion to "have the same feeling (cppovqoric;), the same dydnri, being a single soul and thinking in one" (2, 2). He targets two temptations that undermine community life: the partisan spirit (epiBeia) and vainglory (KevoSo^ia) (2,3a). The attitude to be had instead is humility (Taneivocppoouvn): either by considering others superior to themselves, and by putting first good and common interest (2,3b-4). Paul recalls in this regard the one in whom the community has been constituted by faith: "think and act among you that which is (also) in Christ Jesus" (2,5). The cppovrionq of the disciples must be that which is received from the Father in being in Christ. The kenosisof Christ (2.7-10) is the radical form of his

obedience to the Father and for the disciples it is the call to feel, think and discern together with humility the will of God in following the Master and Lord.

113       . The exercise of discernment is at the heart of the Synod processes and events. This is how it has always been in the Synodal life of the Church. The ecclesiology of communion and the specific spirituality and praxis that derive from it, involving the entire People of God in the mission, make it become "today more than ever necessary (...) to educate oneself on the principles and methods of a discernment that is not only personal, but also in the community " [151] . It is a matter of identifying and treading as Church, through the theological interpretation of the signs of the times under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the path to follow in service of the God's design eschatologically realized in Christ [152] which wants to be realized in every kairos of history [153]. Community discernment allows us to discover a call that God makes heard in a determined historical situation [154] .

114       . Community discernment involves the attentive and courageous listening of the "groans of the Spirit" (see Romans 8:26) who make their way through the cry, explicit or even mute, which rises from the People of God: "listening to God, until to hear with him the cry of the People; listening to the People, until you breathe the will to which God calls us " [155] . The disciples of Christ must be "contemplatives of the Word and contemplatives of the People of God" [156]. Discernment must be carried out in a space of prayer, meditation, reflection and the study necessary to listen to the voice of the Spirit; through a sincere, serene and objective dialogue with the brothers and sisters; with attention to the real experiences and problems of every community and every situation; in the exchange of gifts and in the convergence of all energies in view of the building up of the Body of Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel; in the crucible of the purification of affections and thoughts that makes the intelligence of the Lord's will possible; in the search for evangelical freedom from any obstacle that could weaken openness to the Spirit.

4.4. Synodality and ecumenical journey

115. The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Catholic Church, where there is the one universal Church of Christ [15Z], it is recognized for many reasons united with all those who are baptized [158] and that "the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from to use them (the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities) as means of salvation, whose efficacy derives from the same fullness of grace and truth that has been entrusted to the Catholic Church " [159]. Hence the commitment of the faithful Catholics to walk together with other Christians towards full and visible unity in the presence of the Crucified and Risen Lord: the only one able to heal the wounds inflicted on his Body throughout history and to reconcile with the the gift of the Spirit the differences according to the truth in love.

The ecumenical commitment describes a journey that involves the whole People of God and calls for the conversion of the heart and mutual openness to destroy the walls of distrust that have separated Christians for centuries, to discover, share and enjoy the many riches that they unite as gifts of the only Lord in virtue of the one Baptism: from prayer to listening to the Word and to the experience of mutual love in Christ, from the witness of the Gospel to the service of the poor and marginalized, from the commitment to a just social life and in solidarity with that for peace and the common good.

116 . It is necessary to record with joy the fact that in recent years the ecumenical dialogue has recognized in synodism a revealing dimension of the nature of the Church and constitutive of its unity in the multiplicity of its expressions. This is the convergence on the notion of the Church as koinonia, which is realized in every local Church and in its relationship with other Churches, through specific synodal structures and processes.

In the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, the recent document of Chietiaffirms that ecclesial communion, rooted in the Holy Trinity [160], has developed in the first millennium, in the East and in the West, "structures of synodality inseparably linked with the primacy " [161], whose theological and canonical inheritance" constitutes the necessary reference (...) to heal the wound of their division at the beginning of the third millennium " [162] .

The document of Faith and Constitution of the Ecumenical Council of Churches The Church. Towards a Common Vision emphasizes that "under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the whole Church is synodal / conciliar, at all levels of ecclesial life: local, regional and universal. Synodality or conciliarity reflects the mystery of the trinitarian life of God, and the structures of the Church express it in order to realize the life of the community as communion " ["163] .

117       . The consensus on this vision of the Church allows us to focus our attention, with serenity and objectivity, on the important theological issues that remain to be dissolved. First of all, it deals with the question concerning the relationship between the participation in the synodal life of all the baptized, in whom the Spirit of Christ awakens and nourishes the sensus fideand the consequent competence and responsibility in the discernment of the mission, and the proper authority of the Pastors, deriving from a specific sacramentally given charism; and, secondly, the interpretation of the communion between the local Churches and the universal Church expressed through the communion between their Pastors with the Bishop of Rome, with the determination of what pertains to the legitimate plurality of the expressive forms of faith in the different cultures and of what is inherent in his perennial identity and his Catholic unity.

In this context, the implementation of the synodal life and the deepening of its theological meaning constitute a challenge and an opportunity of great importance in the continuation of the ecumenical journey. Indeed, it is within the horizon of synodality that, with creative fidelity to the depositum fidei and consistent with the criterion of the hierarchy veritatum [164] / the "exchange of gifts" promises to be mutually enriched by walking towards unity as reconciled harmony of the inexhaustible riches of the mystery of Christ reflected in the beauty of the face of the Church.

4.5. Synodality and social diakonia

118       . The People of God walks in history to share with everyone the leaven, the salt, the light of the Gospel. For this reason, "evangelization also implies a journey of dialogue" [165] in the company with the brothers and sisters of the different religions, convictions and cultures that seek the truth and commit themselves to building justice, to open the heart and the mind of all to recognize the presence of Christ walking beside us. The initiatives of meeting, dialogue and collaboration are accredited as precious steps in this common pilgrimage and the synodal journey of the People of God is revealed as a school of life to acquire

the ethosit is necessary to practice dialogue with everyone without irony and compromise. Today, then, when the awareness of the interdependence among the peoples obliges us to think of the world as the common home, the Church is called to demonstrate that the catholicity that qualifies it and the synodality in which it expresses itself is a leaven of unity in diversity, and of communion in freedom. This is a fundamental contribution that the life and synodal conversion of the People of God can offer to the promotion of a culture of encounter and solidarity, respect and dialogue, inclusion and integration, gratitude and gratuity.

119       . The synodal life of the Church offers itself, in particular, as a diaconia in the promotion of a social, economic and political life of the peoples in the sign of justice, solidarity and peace. "God, in Christ, does not only redeem the single person, but also the social relations between men" [166]. The practice of dialogue and the search for shared and effective solutions in which we commit ourselves to building peace and justice are an absolute priority in a situation of structural crisis in the procedures of democratic participation and mistrust in its principles and inspirational values., with the danger of authoritarian and technocratic drift. In this context, the priority and criterion of every social action of the People of God is the imperative to listen to the cry of the poor and that of the earth [167], urgently calling, in the determination of the choices and projects of society, the place and the privileged role of the poor, the universal destination of goods, the primacy of solidarity, the care of the common home.



120      . "Walking together - teaches Pope Francis - is the constitutive path oft he Church; the amountthat allows us to interpret reality with the eyes and the heart of God; the condition to follow the Lord Jesus and to be

servants of life in this wounded time. Breath and synodal passage reveal what we are and the dynamism of communion that animates our decisions. Only in this horizon can we truly renew our pastoral care and adapt it to the Church's mission in today's world; only in this way can we face the complexity of this time, grateful for the journey taken and decided to continue it with parresia" [168] .

121. The parresia in the Spirit asked of the People of God in the synodal journey is the trust, frankness and courage to "enter the breadth of God's horizon" to "announce that in the world there is a sacrament of unity and therefore humanity is not destined for disarray and confusion » [169] . The lived and persevering experience of synodality is for the People of God the source of the joy promised by Jesus, the leaven of new life, the launching pad for a new phase of missionary commitment.

Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, who "gathered the disciples to invoke the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:14), and thus made possible the missionary explosion that took place at Pentecost" [170], accompany the synodal pilgrimage of the People of God, pointing to the goal and teaching the beautiful, tender and strong style of this new stage of evangelization.

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[14]   Francis, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Svnod of Bishops. 17 October 2015: AAS107 (2015) 1141 .

[15]   Cf. International Theological Commission. The "sensus fidei" in the life of the Church (2014^. 91.

[16]   See Francesco, Es. Ap. Evanaeiii aaudium. 24 November 2013, 120: AAS 105 (2013) 1070

[17]   Ignatius of Antioch, AdEphesios, IX, 2; FX Funk (ed.), Apostolic Patres, I, Tubingen, 1901, p. 220.

[18]   Ignatius of Antioch, AdSmyrnaeos, VIII, 1-2 (Funk, I, p.282); To Ephesios, V, 1 (Funk, I, page 216); III, 1 (page 216); Ad Trallianos, IX, 1 (Funk, I, 250).

[19]   Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Ephesios, IV (Funk, I, p.216).

[20]   Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trallianos, III, 1 (Funk, I, page 244).

[21]     Didache, IX, 4; Funk, I, p. 22. This practice was later in a certain way institutionalized. See Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrnaeos,VIII, 1-2 (Funk, I, p.282)) Cyprian, Epistuia 69, 5 (CSEL III, 2, p.720); Decathoiicae ecclesiae unitate, 23 (CSEL III, 1, pp. 230-231); John Chrysostom, In Ioannem homiiiae. 46 (PG 59,

260); Agostino, Sermo 272 (PL 38, 1247 s.).

[22]   Cyprian, Epistuia, 14,4 (CSEL III, 2, p.512).

[23]   Cipriano, De cathoiicae ecclesiae unitate, 5 (CSEL III, 1, p.214).

\_24~\_ConcHiorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Bologna 2002, pp. 8-9.

\_2S\_Conciiiorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Bologna 2002, p. 32.

[;26].Conciiiorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Bologna 2002, pp. 99-100.

[27]   Canons of the Apostles (Mansi, Sacrorum Conciiiorum nova etamplissima collectio I, 35).

[28]   Cf. in the second century, Ignatius of Antioch, AdRomanos, IV, 3 (Funk, I, 256-258); Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, III, 3.2 (SCh 211, p.32).

[29]   Cf. Clement Romano, 1 dementis, V, 4-5 (Funk, I, pp. 104-106).

[30]   Cf. Sardic Synod (343), can. 3 and 5, DH 133-134.

[31]   Cf. Ecumenical Council of Nicaea II, DH 602.

[32]   The practice of the Roman Senate and of the Concilia municipaHa is attested in Africa (see, for example, the Council of Carthage of 256). In Italy the procedural methods known in the practice of the imperial government are used (see the Council of Aquilea of 381). In the Kingdom of the Visigoths and then in that of the Franks the Synods tend to reflect the political praxis known there (see Ordo de celebrando Conciiio of the 7th century).

[33]    On the presence of the laity in the local synods cf. Origen, Diaiogus cum Heradius, IV, 24 (SCh 67, 62); for the practice in use in North Africa, see Cyprian, Epistuia 17, 3 (CSEL III, 2, p.522); Epistuia 19, 2 (CSEL III, 2, pp. 525-526); Epistuia 30, 5 (CSEL III, 2, pp. 552-553). As for the synod of Carthage of 256,

" praesente etiam plebis maxima parte"\s affirmed ( Sententiae episcoporum number LXXXVII, CSEL III, 1, pp. 435-436). L [1] Epistuia 17, 3 proves that Cipriano intends to take the decision in agreement with all the piebs, while recognizing the unique value of the consensus ofcoepiscopes.

[34]   Their convents are gathered in provinces and submitted to a Superior General whose jurisdiction extends over all the members of the Order. The Superiors of the Order - the general, the provincial and those of the

individual convents - are elected by the representatives of the members of the Order for a given period and are assisted in the exercise of their authority by a Chapter or Council.

[35]   Vatican Ecumenical Council I, Cost. Dogm. De Ecclesia Christi, Pastoraeternus. DH 3059. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium, 18.

[36]   Vatican Ecumenical Council I, Dogmatic Constitution. Pastor aeternus, DH 3074; Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 25.

[37]   "What is excluded - explains the document of the CTI, The sensus fidei in the life of the Church, at n. 40 - is the theory according to which such a definition would require this consent, antecedent or consequent, as a condition for being authoritative ».

[38]   Blessed Pius IX, Lett. Enc. Ubiprimum nu/iis. (1849), n. 6.

[39]   Pius XII, Lett. Enc. Deiparae Virgin is Mariae. >44542 (1950), 782-783.

[40]   International Theological Commission. The sensus fidei in the life of the Church. (2014), 41.

[41]   Blessed Paul VI, Lett. Ap. in the form of Motu proprio Apostolica soi/icitudo. 15 September 1965: >44557 (1965), 776.

[42]   St. John Paul II, Lett. Ap. Novo millennio ineunte. 6 January 2001, 44; AAS 93 (2001), 298

[43]     Benedict XVI, Homilv at the inaugural Mass of the 5th Genera! Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate. Aparecida. 13 May 2007, AAS 99 (2007), 435: "This is the" method "with which we work in Church (...). It is not just a question of procedure; it is the reflection of the very nature of the Church, mystery of communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit (...) "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" ».

[44]   Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium r 2-4; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the missionary activity of the Church Ad gentes, 7 December 1965, 2-4.

[45]   Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium r 51; Cost. Dogm. Dei Verbum, 2; Cost. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 6.

[46]   Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium r 4, 8, 13-15, 18, 21, 24­25; Cost. Dogm. Dei Verbum. 10; Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Const, on the Church in the contemporary world Gaudium etSpes. 7 December 1965, 32; Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio. 21 November 1964, 2-4, 14-15, 17-18, 22.

[47]   Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Const. Past. Gaudium etspes. 24.

[48]    .  CCC 750.

[49]   Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 49.

r501 Ibid., 39-42.

[51]   Ibid., 4, 12b; cfr. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church luvenescit Ecclesia. May 15, 2016, 12-18.

[52]   Missale Romanum, General Instruction, 16.

[53]   Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium r 10, 14.

[54]   J. Ratzinger, "The Synodal Functions of the Church: the Importance of Communion among the Bishops", in L 'Osservatore Romano, January 24, 1996, 4.

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[55]   Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiael, 2; III, prol.

[56]   Cf. St. John Paul II, Lett. Enc. Redemptorhominis. 7-14.

[57]   See International Theological Commission, Selected themes of ecclesiologv r (1985), II.

[58]   Cf. Vincenzo di Lerins, Commonitorium II, 5; CCSL 64, 25-26, p. 149.

[59]  Vatican Ecumenical Council, Deer. Ad aentes r 2.

[60]   Blessed Paul VI, Ex. Ap. EvangeliiNuntiandi. 8 December 1975, 14, ,44568 (1976) 13.

[61]  Vatican Ecumenical Council II, Deer. Ad aentes. 35.

[62]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 10.

f631 Ibid.. 12, 32.

[64]    See CCC 783-786.

[65]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 12a.

[66]   Francis, Ex. Ap. Evangelii Gaudium, 119, AAS CV (2013) 1069-1070.

[67]    International Theological Commission, The "sensus fidei" in the life of the Church (2014), 90.

[68]    Francesco, Commemorating Discourse of the 50th Anniversary of the institution of the Svnod of Bishops. AAS 107 (2015) 1139, 1141-1142.

[69]   Blessed Paul VI, Ex. Ap. Evangelii Nuntiandi. 62, >44568 (1976) 52; cfr. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Certain aspects of the Church understood as communion. chap. II.

[ZQ] Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 13c.

1711 Ibid.. 23.

1721 Ibid.. 13c.

1731 CCC 857.

[Z4] Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium r 19.

1751 Ibid.. 21.

[76] Ibid., 22a: "As St Peter and the other Apostles constitute, by the will of the Lord, a single apostolic college, in equal reason ( equalratione) the Roman Pontiff, successor of Peter, and the Bishops, successors of the Apostles, are united"

1771 Ibid.. 23a.

[Z8] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Dei Verbum, 10.

1791 Ibid.. 8.

[80]    International Theological Commission, The "sensus fidei" in the life of the Church, (2014), 122.

[81]     Cf. F. Coccopalmerio, The "Consultancy" of the Parish Pastoral Council and the Council for Economic Affairs of the Parish, in "Quaderni di Diritto ecclesiale", 1 (1988) 60-65.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              31/35
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[82]    The CIC establishes that when a Superior needs the consent and advice of a Collegium or a Coetus

he must convene it or consult him according to the law (can. 127 § 1, canon 166, see canon 166-173). For the act to be valid, it must solicit the opinion of all (canon 127 § 1).

[83]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 27.

[84]   Francesco, Es. Ap. Evangeiii aaudium. 126, AAS 105 (2013) 1073.

T851 Ibid. . 102.

[86]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 4, 12; cfr. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.Lett. Iuvenescit Ecciesia. 10.

[87]   Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Dei Verbum. 8.

[88]   International Theological Commission, Theology todav: perspectives, principles and criteria. (2012), 45.

[89]   Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the institution of the Svnod of Bishops. AAS 107 (2015), 1143.

[90]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium. 41; cfr. Deer. Christus Dominus. 11.

[91]   Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the institution of the Svnod of Bishops. AAS 107 (2015) 1143.

[92]    See CIC, cann. 460-468; CCEO, cann. 235-243. In Eastern Tradition the term "Synod" is attributed to the Episcopal Assemblies; cfr. Congregation for Bishops - Congregation for the Evangelization of

Peoples, Instruction on Diocesan Synods (1977); Id., DirectoryApostolorum Successoreson the ministry of Bishops (2004), 166-176.

[93]   Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops. 166.

T941 Ibid.

[95]    Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Deer. Christus Dominus. lib .

[96]   See ibid., 27.

[97]  Vatican Ecumenical Council, Deer. Presbvterorum ordinis. 7.

[98]   Cf. St. John Paul II, Ex. Ap. on the vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world, Christ/'ffdeles laid. December 30, 1988, 25, AAS 81 (1989) 437 .

[99]               _Book        of the Synod of the Diocese of Rome - according to Diocesan Synod, 1993, p. 102.

[100]   Cf. St. John Paul II, Ex. Ap. Christifideies laid. 27, AAS 81 (1989) 441.

[101]   Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium r 23c; Deer. Christus Dominus r 36 .

[102]   St. John Paul II, Lett. Ap. Novo millennio ineunte. 29, AAS 93 (2001) 285-286.

[103]   Francis, Ex. Ap. Evangeiii Gaudium, 69 , AAS 105 (2013) 1049.

[104]   "This office of Head of the Ecclesiastical Province, established over the centuries, is a hallmark of synodality in the Church" (Francesco, Motu proprio Mitis IudexDominus Iesus r Criterii, V: AAS 107 [2015] 960). In the Eastern Catholic Churches, the metropolitan institution knows two figures: the Province within the patriarchal Church and the Metropolitan Church suiiuris (see CCEO, respectively cann. 133-139 and 155-
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173); the ius if regendof the latter is a specific note of synodality and can be a stimulus for the whole Church (see UR 16, OE 3 and 5).

[105]   The Latin Church is mentioned in canon 322 of CCEO. It is therefore a broad form of interracial synodality.

[106]   Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the institution of the Svnod of Bishops. AAS 107 (2015), 1143.

[107]   The 1917 CIC provided for the celebration of the Provincial Council at least once every 20 years (canon 283); the current suggests that it be celebrated "whenever it seems opportune" (can 440).

[108]   St. John Paul II, Ex. Ap. Post-Synod on the Bishop Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World Pastores Greais. 16 October 2003, 62.

[109]    Cf. CIC, can. 753 and can. 445. On particular councils: cann. 439-446 .

[110]    Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium 23; Cost. Sacrosanctum Concilium. 37-38; Deer. Christus Dominus. 36, 39.

rilll Cf. Francesco, Es. Ap. Evanoelii Gaudium. 32 , AAS 105 (2013) 1033-1034.

[112]   Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 23; Deer. Orientalium ecdesiarum, 7-9.

[113]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 23.

[114]   Cf. Francesco, Discourse to the participants of the 5th National Convention of the Italian Church.

AAS1V7 (2015) 1286.

ni51 CCEO , can. 28.

[116] St. John Paul II, Lett. Ap. Novo millennio ineunte. 40, AAS 93 (2001) 295.

[HZ] Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Deer. Ad oentes. 22.

[118]   Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the institution of the Svnod of Bishops. AAS 107 (2015), 1144.

[119]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 22.

[120]    See ibid., 1, 18.

[121]    See ibid., 25; Deer. Christus Dominus. 4; CIC 337 § 1.

[122]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 23a.

[123]   Blessed Paul VI, Lett. Ap. in the form of Motu Proprio Apostolica sollicitudo r I and lb, AAS 57 (1965) 776; cfr. Vatican Ecumenical Council II, Deer. Christus Dominus. 5; CIC, can. 342-348.

[124]  Vatican Ecumenical Council, Deer. Christus Dominus. 5.

[125]   Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the institution of the Svnod of Bishops. AAS1Q7 (2015) 1143 .

ri261 Ibid.. 1140.

ri271 CIC , can. 337 § 3.

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[128]   "The universality of the service of the Curia - said Pope Francis - comes from and flows from the catholicity of the Petrine ministry" and therefore expresses its "diaconal primacy" ( Discourse in the presentation of the Christmas wishes of the Roman Curia. 21 December 2017).

[129]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Deer. Christus Dominus. 9.

[130]  Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Deer. Unitatis redintearatio. 6.

[131]   Cf. Francesco, Es. Ap. Evangelii Gaudium. 25-33 , AAS 105 (2013), 1030-1034; V General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate, Concluding Document of Aparecida, 365-372.

[132]    Francis, Ex. Ap. Evangelii Gaudium. 102 , AAS 105 (2013) 1062-1063.

[133]   Vatican II Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium. 1. "In her pilgrimage to this world, the one and holy Church was constantly characterized by a tension, sometimes painful, to unity (...). The Second Vatican Council committed itself to realize, perhaps as never before, this mysterious and common dimension of the Church Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Fraternal Life in Community" Conoregavit nos in unum Christi amor ", 2 February 1994, 9.

[134]   Cf. St. John Paul II, Ap. Novo millennio ineunte, 43, AAS 93 (2001) 297.

T1351 Ibid.

T1361 Ibid. . 45.

[137]   Cf. Francesco, Es. Ap. Evangelii gaudium. 64 and 77 , AAS 105 (2013) 1047, 1052.

[138]   International Theological Commission. The "sensus fidei" in the life of the Church. (2014), 90.

[139]   St. John Paul II, Lett. Ap. Novo millennio ineunte. 43, AAS 93 (2001) 297.

[140]   Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Const. Gaudium etspes. 24.

[141]   St. John Paul II, Lett. Enc. on the Eucharist in its relationship with the Church Ecclesia de Eucharistia. 17 April 2003, 40, AAS95 (2003) 460.

[142]    Agostino d'Ippona, Rule, I, 3, PL 32, 1378.

[143]   Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the institution of the Svnod of Bishops. >445107 (2015), 1140.

[144]   Francis, Ex. Ap. Evangelii Gaudium. 228 , AAS 105 (2013) 1113.

[145]   Francesco, Lett. Enc. on the Faith Lumen fidei. 29 June 2013, 27, AAS 105 (2013) 571.

[146]   Blessed Paul VI, Lett. Enc. Ecclesiam suam. 6 August 1964, 83, AAS 56 (1964) 644.

T1471 Ibid. . 83-85.

T1481 Ibid. . 90.

[149]    Benedict XVI, Lett. Enc. Caritas in Veritate, 29 June 2009, 4, >145 101 (2009) 643.

[150]   Cf. Benedetto da Norcia, Rule, 72.6.

r 1511 St. John Paul II, Ecclesial Convention of Palermo 1995, reported by the Pastoral Note of the CEI, With the gift of charity within history, 1996, n. 32.

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[152] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Dei Verbum, 4.

1531 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Const. Gaudium etspes. 4, 11.

1541 Cf. St. John Paul II, Ex. Ap. Post-Synodal Pastores Da bo Vobis. 25 March 1992, 10, AAS 82 (1992), 672.

155] Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Svnod of Bishops. >445107 (2015) 1141.

1561 See Francis, Ex. Ap. Evanaeiii Gaudium. 154, AAS 105 (2013) 1084.

157] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen gentium r 8.

1581 See ibid.. 15.

159] Vatican Ecumenical Council II, Deer. Unitatis redintearatio r 3.

1601 See Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and he Orthodox Church, Synodality and Primacy in the First Millennium: a common understanding in service to the unity of the Church, Chieti, 21 September 2016, 1.

1611 Ibid.. 20.

1621 Ibid.. 21.

1631 Commission of faith and constitution of the World Council of Churches, The Church: towards a common vision (2013) 53.

164]  Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Deer. Unitatis redinteoratio, 11c.

165]  Francis, Ex. Ap. Evangeiii Gaudium, 238, AAS 105 (2013) 1116.

1661 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2 April 2004, 52; cfr. Francesco , Es. Ap. Evangeiii gaudium, 178 , AAS 105 (2013) 1094.

1671 Cf. Francesco, Lett. Enc. on the care of the common house Laudato ves. 24 May 2015, 49, AAS 107 2015) 866.

168] Francesco, Salutation at the opening of the work of the 70th Genera! Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Rome 22 May 2017.

169]  Francis, Address to the Congregation for Bishops, 27 February 2014.

170]  Francis, Ex. Ap. Evangeiii gaudium, 284 , AAS 105 (2013) 1134.

T21 Ibid.


[3]   See G. Lampe A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1968, 1334-1335.


[4]  "'EKKAeoia ouvo5ou ecrriv ovopa" ( Exp. In Psaim., 149, 1: PG 55, 493); cfr. Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Svnod of Bishops, AAS107 (2015), 1142.


[5]  Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution, on the divine revelation Dei Verbum. 1; Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium. 1.


f61 CIC 439 , 1; 440, 1.


171 CIC 337, 1.


[8]            _CIC           342.


[9]            _CIC           460.


[10]  In the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (19901 mention is made of the Ecumenical Council (CCEO 50), and the Synod of Bishops (CCEO 46.1), the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchal Church (CCEO) 102), the Synod of Bishops of the Archiepiscopalian Major Church (CCEO 152), the Metropolitan Synod (CCEO 133, 1) and the permanent Synod of the Patriarchal Curia (CCEO 114, 1).


[II]    Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Certain aspects of the Church understood as communion (28 May 1992), which affirms, recalling the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (see Lumen gentium 4f8f 13-15,18,21, 24-25; Dei Verbum 10; Gaudium etspes 32; Unitatis redintearatio 2-4. 14-15, 17-19, 22) and the Final Report of the II Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the 1985 (see II, C, 1): "The concept of communion ( koinonfa), already highlighted in the texts of the Second Vatican Council, it is very adequate to express the profound core of the mystery of the Church and can be a key to reading a renewed Catholic ecclesiology ».


[12]  Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution, on the Church Lumen gentium. 21 November 1964, 1.


[13]  Cf. St. John Paul II, Lett. Ap. at the end of the great Jubilee of the year two thousand, Novo millennio ineunte, 6 January 2001, 44: AAS 93 (2001) 298.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               28/35


[1]    Francesco, Speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Svnod of Bishops. 17 October 2015: >145107 (2015) 1139.