Q. 1. What is the Synod of Bishops?
A. 1. According to the Vatican website, "The Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul Vl by Motu proprio "Apostolica sollicitudo" of 15 September 1965. Pope Paul Vl gave the definition of the Synod of Bishops at the Sunday Angelus of 22 September 1974: "It is an ecclesiastic institution, which, on interrogating the signs of the times and as well as trying to provide a deeper interpretation of divine designs and the constitution of the Catholic Church, we set up after Vatican Council II in order to foster the unity and cooperation of bishops around the world with the Holy See. It does this by means of a common study concerning the conditions of the Church and a joint solution on matters concerning Her mission. It is neither a Council nor a Parliament but a special type of Synod".
Literally speaking the word “synod”, derived from two Greek words syn meaning “together” and hodos meaning “road” or “way”, means a “coming together”. A Synod is a religious meeting or assembly at which bishops, gathered around and with the Holy Father, have the opportunity to interact with each other and to share information and experiences, in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application. The Synod, generally speaking, can be defined as an assembly of bishops representing the Catholic episcopate, having the task of helping the Pope in the governing of the universal Church by rendering their counsel. Pope John Paul II has referred to the Synod as “a particularly fruitful expression and instrument of the collegiality of bishops” (Speech to the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, 30 April 1983: L’Osservatore Romano, 1 May 1983).