Lay contribution to synod of bishops bolstered

Pope Francis has announced new rules to bolster lay people’s contribution in the synod of bishops process so it can become a “privileged instrument of listening to the People of God.”

He has published a new apostolic constitution, “Episcopalis Communio,” which sets out how local bishops must consult with the laity on the “questions to be dealt with in the synodal assembly.”

Episcopalis Communio emphasises that those who teach must listen.

Francis introduced the need for pre-synod detailed consultations of the laity before the 2014 bishops gathering on the family. Episcopalis Communio formalises this requirement.

Francis has repeatedly said synods are not just a gathering of bishops but a collective discernment process for all Catholics.

His new constitution strengthens the synod of bishops secretariat and the office of the general secretary to help guide proceedings when the synod is not meeting.

Critics of the 2014 and 2015 gatherings on the family have accused Francis and his allies of “rigging” the synods in a progressive direction.

Francis’s new laws hand much more power to the synod, and away from the Church’s central bureaucracy, by stating that a final document from a synod gathering “if expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff” is part of the “ordinary Magisterium of the Successor to Peter.”

Critical for the success of the Pope’s synod vision is the bishops’ ability to listen to ordinary Catholics whom Francis describes as “infallibile in credendo”, meaning “infallible in belief.”


News category: World.