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Vatican releases working document for Synod

The Vatican has released the instrumentum laboris, or working document, that will guide the discussions of the Synod of Bishops later this year.

At a press conference in Rome on Friday, Cardinal Jan Schotte, secretary general of the Synod, emphasised the importance of the Synod as an instrument of the collegial government of the Church. The Synod of Bishops has met periodically since the practice was introduced by Pope Paul VI in 1967; Pope John Paul II has increased the frequency of these meetings.

Catholic World News reports that Cardinal Schotte acknowledged that the role of the Synod should evolve, so that the bishops can provide more guidance to the universal Church. (The role of the Synod was discussed at length during the recent extraordinary consistory of the College of Cardinals.) However, Cardinal Schotte also cautioned that the Synod is a consultative rather than legislative body.

The Synod of Bishops -- composed of some delegates chosen by national episcopal conferences, and others appointed by the Holy See-- will meet from 30 September to 27 October. The theme for the Synod's discussions this year will be the responsibility of the diocesan bishop. Previous Synod meetings have centered on the family (1980), the sacrament of Reconciliation (1983), the laity (1987), priestly formation (1990), and consecrated life (1994).