About the Synod¶
The Synod of Bishops is an advisory body of the Catholic Church that renders cooperative assistance to the Pope in exercising his office. It assembles every 2 to 3 years. It is permanent, even when not in session. It was created as part of the Vatican Council II.
From the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis expressed his desire to strengthen the collegial aspects of the Church’s governance, and he argued for more recognition of charismatic gifts in the Church. He has held major synods on the topics of the family (2014), on youth (2018), and on the Church in the Pan-Amazon region (2019).
The Synod on Synodality (or simply “Synod”) is the short name for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome in October 2023.
The goal of this synod is to document more clearly the “modus vivendi et operandi” of the Church: How it works in daily life, how it is governed, how decisions are made, how it collaborates with the public.
This modus vivendi et operandi has been “clear” from the beginning, but a need to describe it in modern language has emerged after 2nd Vatican Council. A suitable name for it started to emerge under Pope Francis: synodality
By convening the Synod on Synodality, Pope Francis invites the entire Church to reflect on this theme, which is decisive for its life and mission.
Pope Francis insists that “it is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.” (Vademecum 1.2)
The official theme of this synod is “For a synodal Church – Communion, Participation and Mission”.
By journeying together and reflecting together on the journey that has been made, the Church will be able to learn through her experience which processes can help her to live communion, to achieve participation, to open herself to mission. (PD, 1)
Communion stands for how we interact with each other in daily life
Participation stands for how we interact within the hierarchy of our organization
Mission stands for how we interact with those who are outside of the Church
These three areas of activity (“levels”, “dimensions”) are profoundly interrelated. They are the vital pillars of a synodal Church. There is no hierarchy between them. Rather, each one enriches and influences the trajectory of the other two. There is a dynamic relationship between the three that must be articulated with all three in mind.
The preparation for the Synod starts in October 2021, two years before the actual meeting, with consultation meetings in each diocese. During this phase we listen to what Estonia has to say at the Synod.
The core team will collect reports of consultation meetings and synthesize them into a ten page summary, which will be read by the Vatican.
After the assembly of the Synod, an implementation phase that will again involve the local teams.
Key dates in Estonia:
17. October 2021: Start of the diocesan phase. Dedicated Holy Mass in every parish. Main celebration at 11:30 in Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral, Tallinn.
Between October 2021 and March 2022: Consultation meetings
April 2022: Synthesis of the results
Every submitted report of every consultation meeting will be published on this website. And in April 2022 the core team will elaborate a synthesis of the results because we can’t expect the bishops of the Synod to read all reports of every country. This synthesis will be a special process for which the Vatican has issued directives, but for which we in Estonia have not yet decided the implementation process.
More than simply responding to a questionnaire, this phase is meant to offer as many people as possible a truly synodal experience of listening to one another and walking forward together, guided by the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.” (PD, 32)