Synod of Bishops, The Order for the Synod of Bishops, 29 September 2006.


RESCRIPT FROM THE PAPAL AUDIENCE

Taking into account the past revisions and additions to the Order of the Synod of Bishops in 1969 and 1971, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, acceding to the counsel of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on the opportuneness of updating the statutes contained therein to conform to the present Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches, gives his approval and orders its publication.1

At the same time, the Supreme Pontiff directs that the present text of the Order of the Synod of Bishops be conscientiously observed by all those to whom it pertains.

Given at the Vatican, 29 September 2006.

Tarcisio Card. Bertone

Secretary of State




THE ORDER OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

Preface

As the work of the Second Vatican Council progressed, the idea arose that the Roman Pontiff utilize his union with the Bishops in a more visible and efficacious manner in carrying out his office as Supreme Pastor of the Church.2 To achieve this end, Pope Paul VI, with the Apostolic Letter Apostolica Sollicitudo (15 September 1965), instituted the Synod of Bishops,3 establishing its structure and responsibilities. References to this new institution can be found in the Decrees of the Second Vatican Council Christus Dominus, 5 and Ad Gentes, 29.

The Synod of Bishops, representing in some way the entire episcopate of the Catholic Church, expresses in a special manner the spirit of communion uniting the Bishops with the Roman Pontiff and Bishops among themselves.4 It is the privileged place where the assembly of Bishops is immediately and directly subject to the power of the Roman Pontiff,5 manifests collegial fraternity and episcopal concern for the good of the whole Church and, under the action of the Holy Spirit, offers genuine counsel on various topics related to the Church.6

The fact that the Synod ordinarily has only a consultative role does not diminish its importance. In the Church the purpose of any collegial body, whether consultative or deliberative, is always the search for truth or the good of the Church. When it is therefore a question involving the faith itself, the consensus ecclesiae is not determined by the tallying of votes, but is the outcome of the working of the Spirit, the soul of the one Church of Christ.7

The Code of Canon Law, promulgated on 25 January 1983, codified the principal elements of the structure of the Synod of Bishops,8 and, along with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, promulgated on 18 October 1990, placed it among the bodies which, in ways corresponding to their office, cooperate with the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his supreme authority.9

Shortly after the institution of the Synod of Bishops, the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum was promulgated on 8 December 1966 for the effective ordering of the structure and activity of the Synod of Bishops, including the procedures to be followed at its various assemblies.10 The norms governing the synod were successively updated on two occasions to integrate practical elements resulting from the actual celebration of synodal assemblies.11

Likewise, to address specific needs which arose during synodal proceedings, it was necessary over the years to add further norms, such as Procedural Norms for Discussion Groups and some Explanatory Comments on certain articles of the Ordo Synodi.

Forty years of experience in celebrating synodal assemblies pointed to the urgency of another revision of the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, which included adding juridical elements from other related norms published from time to time.

The text of The Procedural Norms for Discussion Groups is found in the appendix of this present document.

PART I. SUPREME AUTHORITY AND THE PARTICIPANTS AT THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

Chapter I. The Roman Pontiff

Article 1

The Power of the Roman Pontiff

§1. The Synod of Bishops is directly under the authority of the Roman Pontiff, who alone has the right:

1º to convoke the Synod of Bishops as often as it seems to him opportune and to designate the place of the meeting;

2º to establish the topic for discussion at an opportune time before the celebration of the synod;

3º to ratify the election of its Members, who are to be elected according to the norms of Article 6, §1, §2, and also to appoint the other Members;

4º to decree that the material relating to the topic for discussion be sent to those who are to take part in the discussion;

5º to determine the agenda;

6º to preside over the Synod in person or through others;

7º to decide on the proposals expressed;

8º to ratify the decisions, when, in determined cases, the synod has been given deliberative power;

9º to conclude, to transfer, to suspend, to disband the Synod.

§2. If the Apostolic See becomes vacant or impeded after the convocation of the Synod or during its celebration, the Synod is immediately suspended, until the new Pontiff establishes whether to continue it or to convoke a new assembly.

Chapter II. The President-Delegate

Article 2

The Appointment of the President-Delegate

§1. The President-Delegate presides over the Assembly in the name and by the authority of the Roman Pontiff.

§2. The President-Delegate is appointed by the Roman Pontiff; his office ceases at the conclusion of the Assembly for which he is appointed.

§3. If the Roman Pontiff has delegated several persons to preside over the Assembly, they exercise their office in turns according to the order set by the Roman Pontiff.

Article 3

The Responsibility of the President-Delegate

The President-Delegate is:

1º to guide the workings of the Synod according to the faculties entrusted to him in the letter of delegation, following the agenda and observing the procedural norms set down in this Ordo;

2º to assign to certain Members, when deemed opportune, particular tasks, so that the Assembly might better proceed with its work;

3º to sign the Acts of the Assembly. If there are several President-Delegates, all sign the Acts concluding the Assembly.

Chapter III. Synodal Assemblies

Article 4

The Various Kinds of Synodal Assemblies

The Synod of Bishops meets:

1º in an Ordinary General Assembly, if the topic for discussion, by its very nature and importance, is for the good of the universal Church, and seems to require the learning, prudence and counsel of the entire Catholic episcopate.

2º in an Extraordinary General Assembly, if the topic for discussion demands immediate attention for the good of the entire Church.

3º in a Special Assembly, if the topic for discussion is of great importance to the good of the Church, but only in reference to one or more particular regions.

Chapter IV. Participants at the Synod

Article 5

Members or Synod Fathers

§1. At an Ordinary General Assembly of a Synod the following participate:

1º a) Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, Metropolitans of the Metropolitan Churches sui iuris of the Eastern Catholic Churches or a Bishop, competent in the material to be treated at the Synod, designated by the Patriarch, Major Archbishop or Metropolitan of the Metropolitan Churches sui iuris, with the consensus of the Synod of Bishops or Council of the Hierarchy of the Church over which they preside;

b) Bishops elected by the Synod of Bishops and by the Council of the Hierarchy of the Eastern Catholic Churches, according to the norms of Article 6, §1, 5º;

c) Bishops elected from their individual national Episcopal Conferences according to Article 6, §1, 3º;

d) Bishops elected from Episcopal Conferences of several nations which do not have a conference of their own, according to the norms of Article 6, §1, 4º;

e) Ten Men-Religious, representatives of Clerical Religious Institutes, elected by the Union of Superiors General, according to Article 6, §2;

2º The Heads of the Departments of the Roman Curia.

§2. At an Extraordinary General Assembly the following participate:

1º a) Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, Metropolitans of the Metropolitan Churches sui iuris of the Eastern Catholic Churches or, if unable, a Bishop designated according to the norms of Article 5, §1, 1º a);

b) Presidents of the national Episcopal Conferences, or, if unable, the first Vice-President;

c) Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of several nations which do not have a conference of their own, or, if unable, the first Vice-President;

d) Three Men-Religious, representatives of Clerical Religious Institutes, elected from the Union of Superiors General;

2º The Heads of the Departments of the Roman Curia.

§3. At a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops the following participate;

1º Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, Metropolitans of the Metropolitan Churchessui iuris of the Eastern Catholic Churches or a Bishop, competent in the material to be treated at the Synod, designated by the Patriarch, Major Archbishop or Metropolitan of the Metropolitan Churches sui iuris, with the consensus of the Synod of Bishops or the Council of the Hierarchy of the Churches over which they preside; Eastern Bishops elected according to the norms of Article 5, §1, 1º b), as well as the representatives of both Episcopal Conferences of one or more nations, and of Religious Clerical Institutes as set down in the same Article, §1, in Article 6, §1, 4º, and for the number of Religious, in Article 6, §2, 4º; however, all are to pertain to the regions on whose behalf the Synod is convoked.

2º At the Special Assembly also participate the Heads of the Departments of the Roman Curia which have responsibility for the matters to be treated;

§4. At the individual assemblies there are also Members, Bishops or Religious from Clerical Religious Institutes or Ecclesiastics who are specialists in the material to be treated, appointed by the Supreme Pontiff, up to 15% of the total number of Members.

Article 6

The Election of Members

§1.

1º Bishops are to be delegated by the Episcopal Conferences of one or more nations through an election by secret ballot at a plenary session of the conference.

2º Such elections are done in accord with the norms set down in canon 119, 1º of the Code of Canon Law. If more than one Member is to be elected, an individual vote is taken for the election of each Member, so that not more than one Member is elected with each voting.

3º The number of Bishops who represent their individual Episcopal Conferences is determined in the following manner:

a) 1 for each national Episcopal Conference that does not exceed 25 Members;

b) 2 for each national Episcopal Conference with 26 to 50 Members;

c) 3 for each national Episcopal Conference with 51 to 100 Members; and

d) 4 for each national Episcopal Conference having more than 100 Members.

4º The Episcopal Conferences comprised of many nations choose those who represent them according to the same norms.

5º The Eastern Catholic Churches, in addition to what is stipulated in Article 5, §1, 1º a), can elect one representative, according to the norms of canon 956, §1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, for a Synod of Bishops or Council of the Hierarchy the Church which might have 26 to 50 Members or two representatives for a Synod or Council of the Hierarchy which might have 51 to 100 Members.

6º In electing Bishops, great attention should be given not only to their knowledge and prudence in a general sense, but also to their theoretical and practical experience in the material to be treated at the Synod.

7º The Heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches, referred to in Article 5, §1, 1º a), and the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences are to communicate the name(s) of the one(s) elected to the General Secretary through the papal representative of the given nation, at least 5 months before the opening of the Assembly.

§2.

1º The election of Men-Religious, referred to in Article 5 of this Ordo, is to be done bearing in mind the individual election procedure mentioned in §1, 2º of this Article.

2º In electing Men-Religious, attention should be given not only to their knowledge and prudence in a general sense but also to their theoretical and practical experience in the material to be treated at the Synod.

3º The President of the Union of Superiors General is to communicate the names of those elected to the General Secretary at least 5 months before the opening of the Assembly.

4º For a Special Assembly, the Union of Superiors General is to elect not more than two Men-Religious Members, representatives of the Clerical Religious Institutes, who know both the material for treatment and the territory for which the Synod is convoked, even if they do not belong to this territory.

§3. The names of the Bishops and Religious who are elected are not to be made known to the public until their election is ratified by the Roman Pontiff.

§4. The Synods of Bishops, the Councils of the Hierarchy of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Episcopal Conferences and the Union of Superiors General, in reference to §1 and §2, are to elect one or two alternate Members or Substitutes, who, with the approval of the Roman Pontiff, will take part in the Synod in the event that the persons whose place they take, are unable to be present.

§5. At the beginning of each synodal assembly the elected Members are to present to the Roman Pontiff, through the General Secretary, the official document of their deputation signed by Head of the respective Eastern Catholic Church, the President and the Secretary of the individual conference, or, in the case of Religious, by the President and Secretary of the Union of Superiors General.

Article 7

Other Participants

Others can also be invited to participate at the Synod in the following capacities, but without the right to vote:

1º Experts (Adiutores Secretarii Specialis), designated under Article 14, §4, who collaborate with the Special Secretary in the Concluding Report (Relatio post disceptationem) and the List of Proposals (Propositiones) and other possible documents;

2º Auditors (Auditores), who are present at the Synod sessions;

3º Fraternal Delegates (Delegati Fraterni), who represent Churches and Ecclesial Communities, which are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.

Chapter V. Commissions of Study

Article 8

The Establishment of Commissions of Study

§1.

1º If the topic to be treated in the Synod needs further development, the President-Delegate can, with the approval of the Roman Pontiff, form various Commissions of Study from among the Members.

2º The primary responsibility of each Commission is to devote study to achieving a better redaction of texts or to finding a solution to a proposed difficulty.

§2. Unless the Roman Pontiff has decided otherwise, each commission is comprised of 12 Members, specialists on the subject, of which 8 are elected from the Assembly and 4 are appointed by the Roman Pontiff.

§3. With the approval of the Roman Pontiff, a Commission is also to be established, according to the preceding Article §2, for the composition of a possible Message or another document which is to be published, after having received the approval of the Synod Fathers.

Article 9

The Election of Members of the Commissions of Study

1º The election of the Members of the Commission of Study is done according to the norms set down in canon 119, 1º of the Code of Canon Law.

2º The Roman Pontiff chooses the President from among those elected or appointed.

3º Any Synod Father can be elected as a Member of a Commission with the exception of the President-Delegate, the General Secretary, and the General Relator.

4º The Secretary of the Commission is to be one of the Members elected by the Members themselves.

5º The Special Secretary is to take part in the Commission of Study by helping in the discussion of the subject for which the Commission was established.

Chapter VI. The Commission for Disputes

Article 10

The Constitution and Tasks of the Commission for Disputes

At the beginning of each assembly the Roman Pontiff is to establish a Commission of 3 Members with the task of examining in a due manner any disputes that have been submitted and bringing them to the Roman Pontiff.

Chapter VII. The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops

Article 11

The Constitution of the General Secretariat of the Synod

§1. The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution in service of the Synod, and established as a connection between the various synodal assemblies.

§2. The General Secretary and the Council of the Secretariat are part of the General Secretariat, each according to his task.

Article 12

The Appointment of the General Secretary, His Responsibilities and Collaborators

§1. The General Secretary is appointed by the Roman Pontiff and exercises his responsibilities at the discretion of the Roman Pontiff.

§2. It is the responsibility of the General Secretary to carry out the directives of the Roman Pontiff and to communicate to him all matters related to the Synod of Bishops.

§3. The General Secretary participates as a Member in synodal assemblies. At the beginning of synodal work, he presents a Report on the preparation of the Synod, directs the operation of the General Secretariat and undersigns all its activities.

§4. It is equally the task of the General Secretary to prepare the work of the Council of the Secretariat and to serve as moderator at the meetings.

§5. The General Secretary has the further duty:

1º to send, at the mandate of the Roman Pontiff, letters convoking the Synod along with the agenda of each individual assembly, as well as documents, instructions and pertinent information for the same assembly;

2º to communicate to all to whom it pertains the names of the Members or Synod Fathers freely designated by the Roman Pontiff, according to the norms of n. X, of the Apostolic Letter, Apostolica Sollicitudo, 15 September 1965; in addition to communicate the appointment by the Roman Pontiff of the President-Delegate, General Relator and Special Secretary for each assembly;

3º to report to the Roman Pontiff on the work done by the Council of the General Secretariat;

4º to prepare the proceedings of each assembly, submitting to the Roman Pontiff, the topic for treatment and the list of Members for the necessary ratification;

5º to oversee, during the synod, the assignment of tasks to various Members, while avoiding assigning many to any one Member;

6º to transmit a report on the proceedings of each assembly to the Synod Fathers, Patriarchs, Major Archbishops and Metropolitans of the Metropolitan Churches sui iuris, Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and the President of the Union of Superiors General;

7º to carry out what the Synod of Bishops might entrust to him;

8º to collect, put in order and preserve the acts and documents of the Synod.

§6. The collaborators of the General Secretary, appointed by him with the approval of the Roman Pontiff, are subject to him.

§7. The same collaborators are chosen from among ecclesiastics who are properly disposed to the work through their knowledge and prudence.

§8. If need be, some specialists in technical matters can be enlisted by the General Secretary, with the approval of the Roman Pontiff.

Article 13

The Constitution of the Council of the General Secretariat, Its Tasks and Meetings

§1. At the end of each ordinary general synodal assembly, the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat is formed.

§2. The Council is comprised of 15 Members; 12 of whom are elected from the Synod, taking into account the representation of Bishops scattered throughout the world, and 3 designated by the Roman Pontiff.

§3. The selection of Members is done through an election which has the force of law, when, after subtracting invalid ballots, an absolute majority of votes is cast in favor of a person, or after the first ineffective balloting, the relative majority is received on a second ballot. If, however, the votes are equal, the matter proceeds according to the norms of canon 119, 1º, in the Code of Canon Law.

§4. The Bishops elected to the Council of the General Secretariat retain their proper office until the beginning of a new Ordinary General Assembly.

§5. The Council of the General Secretariat is to give assistance to the General Secretary:

1º in examining everything as proposed by the Synod of Bishops and the Council of the Hierarchy of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Episcopal Conferences, the Departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General on the questions to be treated at the Synod, bearing in mind the contents of Article 1, §1, 2º;

2º in preparing the work for treatment at the next assembly of the Synod;

3º in offering advice on those things proposed by the Synod and approved by the Roman Pontiff; and

4º finally, in other questions which the Roman Pontiff will have assigned to them.

§6. The Members of the Council of the General Secretariat are convoked by the General Secretary twice a year and in addition, as often as, subject to the judgment of the Roman Pontiff, it will seem opportune.

§7. Analogous to Ordinary General Assemblies, Special Councils of the General Secretariat are formed at the conclusion of a Special Assembly for a period of five years, after which the Roman Pontiff is to decide whether to abolish the Council, re-confirm it or substitute Members.

Chapter VIII. The General Relator and The Special Secretary

Article 14

The Appointment of the General Relator and Special Secretary

§1. The General Relator is appointed by the Roman Pontiff for each assembly.

§2. The Special Secretary is appointed by the Roman Pontiff for each assembly that might treat a subject in which he might have expertise.

§3. If the subjects are different, a Special Secretary is appointed for each of them.

§4. If a case warrants it, some assistants to the Special Secretary are appointed by the Roman Pontiff, according to the norms in Article 7, 1º.

§5. With the dissolution of the Assembly the office of the General Relator and the Special Secretary ceases.

Article 15

The Task of the General Relator and the Special Secretary

§1. The General Relator has the task of:

1º preparing the Introductory Presentation (Relatio ante disceptationem) and the Concluding Presentation (Relatio post disceptationem), referred to in Articles 31 and 32.

2º presiding over the preparation of the Proposals (Propositiones) or other documents, composed under the auspices of the Special Secretary, for submission to the vote of the Synod Fathers, and presenting them in plenary session.

§2. The Special Secretary has the task of:

1º assisting the General Relator in all his functions;

2º coordinating, under the direction of the General Relator, the work of the experts in the composition of the Proposals (Propositiones) or other documents for submission to the vote of the Synod Fathers.

§3. The Special Secretary is at the disposal of the President-Delegate, the General Relator and the General Secretary; for preparing documents and reports, for providing information briefings and explanations in response to requests; and finally, for helping to draw up the Acts.

§4. In the discussion of the topic, it is permissible for each Synod Father, with the approval of the President-Delegate and in conformity with the order established by him, to seek explanations and information, from both the General Relator and, above all, the Special Secretary.

Chapter IX. Information on the Synod

Article 16

The Commission for Information on the Synod

§1. To provide information on the sessions and work of the Synod, a special commission is to be established, made up of the following Members: the President and Vice-President, appointed by the Roman Pontiff, the General Secretary of the Synod, the Special Secretary of the Synod, the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, and five Synod Fathers designated by the President-Delegate, according to a list of candidates proposed by the President of the Commission.

§2. The Secretary of the Commission is to be the Director of the Holy See Press Office.

§3. It is the task of the Commission, with the approval of the President-Delegate, to establish the criteria and manner of supplying information.

§4. Likewise, press conferences on individual subjects are to be given to journalists by Synod Fathers, designated by the President of the Commission, with the approval of the President-Delegate.

PART II. GENERAL NORMS

Chapter I. The Convocation of the Synod of Bishops

Article 17

The Procedure for Convoking the Synod

§1. The Synod of Bishops is convoked by the Roman Pontiff at opportune times and ways.

§2. It is the task of the President-Delegate to indicate the day and hour of each successive congregation and the material for treatment according to the pre-established order.

§3. The convocation of individuals is to take place only when the President-Delegate will have judged it necessary.

Chapter II. Attire

Article 18

Attire to be Worn at the Assembly

During the sessions of the assembly, the Members, to whom it pertains, are to wear the cassock consistent with their office; others are to wear their proper habit and public attire.

Chapter III. Precedence

Article 19

The Order of Precedence

§1. For establishing precedence, the prescriptions of the canons and custom are to be observed.

§2. If one of the Members sits out of the order of precedence, and, in this place, gives an opinion or acts, he does not acquire any right nor prejudice anyone by so doing.

Chapter IV. The Observance of Secrecy

Article 20

The Obligation of Secrecy

Except for the prescription of Article 16, all those who participate in the Synod are bound to secrecy as regards both the preparation and the actual work of the assembly, above all as regards the opinions and votes of individuals, and also the decisions and conclusions of the assembly.

Chapter V. The Language of the Synod

Article 21

The Language to be Used in the Assembly and the Acts

The Latin language is to be used in the sessions of the Synod and in the drafting of the Acts. The President-Delegate can authorize the use of other languages.

Chapter VI. The Collection and Distribution of the Acts and Documents

Article 22

The Manner of Collecting and Distributing the Acts and Documents

§1. All the Acts and documents are collected and distributed through the General Secretary.

§2. The subjects which ought to be treated in the synodal assembly are communicated before the beginning of the assembly, so as to provide time for the convocation of the concerned bodies to consult their Members.

Chapter VII. The Opinions of the Bodies Concerned

Article 23

The Manner of Seeking Opinions

§1. It is necessary that the subjects for discussion, determined by the Roman Pontiff in convoking the Synod, be attentively studied before-hand by the Synods of Bishops, by the Councils of the Hierarchy of the Eastern Catholic Churches, by each Episcopal Conference, by the Departments of the Roman Curia and by the Union of Superiors General.

§2. In treating these subjects, each Episcopal Conference expresses its common opinion, according to a manner judged most opportune.

§3. This opinion is expressed in the assembly of the Synod by individual Members designated for the Synod.

§4. The consensus of the Synod Fathers, at the conclusion of synodal debate, is expressed in Proposals (Propositiones) or in other documents, submitted to vote and then offered to the Roman Pontiff as the conclusions of the Synod.

Chapter VIII. The Voting

Article 24

The Voting Procedure

After the Members have expressed the opinion mentioned in Article 23, §3, if the Roman Pontiff shall have so determined, voting will take place.

Article 25

The Formula and Manner of Voting

§1. In the Synod, voting is expressed using the formula: placetnon placetplacet iuxta modum, if voting is for the approval of a schema, either in whole or in part; the formula placet or non placet is used for approval of emendments and other voting.

§2. The one who votes according to the formula, placet iuxta modum is bound to present the emendment (modum) in writing, in a clear and concise manner.

§3. The votes are expressed on specially printed ballots, unless the President-Delegate decides otherwise, for example, by standing or a show of hands.

Article 26

The Majority

§1. To arrive at the majority of votes, if the vote is for the approval of some item, 2/3 of the votes of the Members casting ballots is required; if for the rejection of some item, the absolute majority of the same Members is necessary.

§2. What is prescribed in §1 is applies both in the case of a proposal intended for the Roman Pontiff, as well as for discussions, after having obtained the consent of the Roman Pontiff himself.

§3. Questions of procedure are resolved each time by an absolute majority of the voting Members.

Chapter IX. Absent Members

Article 27

The Obligation to Notify Absence

Whoever is not able to attend a session must make the reason for his absence known to the President-Delegate through the General Secretary.

Chapter X. Residency

Article 28

The Dispensation from the Residency Requirement

All those who are bound to be present at the Synod or in whatever capacity they legitimately lend their work, during the length of the assembly and as long as they are present and working, are excused from their residency requirement and are to receive income according to their customary office.

PART III. THE PROCEDURE

Chapter I. Sacred Rites

Article 29

The Opening and the Closing of the Assembly

§1. The synodal assembly is opened with the celebration of Mass and the Hymn, Veni, Creator Spiritus.

§2. In the same manner, the assembly is closed with the celebration of Mass and the Hymn, Te Deum.

Chapter II. The President-Delegates Assuming Office

Article 30

The Manner of Assuming Office

At the opening of the session of the synodal assembly, the General Secretary, if it is necessary, will read the papal document appointing the President-Delegate, after which he immediately assumes his office.

Chapter III. The Presentations of the General Relator

Article 31

The Introductory Presentation (Relatio ante disceptationem)

§1. The Introductory Presentation, setting forth and developing the material to be treated at the synod and specifying points for discussion, is prepared by the General Relator, who is entrusted with this office by the Roman Pontiff at the time of the convocation of each synodal assembly.

§2. The General Relator is assisted by the Special Secretary.

§3. The text of the Introductory Presentation to be given at the synod is to be submitted at least 30 days before the opening date of the synod to the General Secretary, who then prepares copies for the Members.

Article 32

The Concluding Presentation (Relatio post disceptationem)

At the conclusion of the Synod Fathers interventions, the General Relator, taking subjects touched upon in the Synod Hall, presents a summary of the discussion called the Concluding Presentation, proposing points for possible discussion in the Small Groups (Circuli Minores) or in another manner.

Chapter IV. The Procedure of the Synodal Assembly

Article 33

The Presentation of the Topic

The President-Delegate announces the topic for discussion and calls on the General Relator who summarily gives his Presentation, previously prepared and distributed to the Synod Fathers, using the help, if necessary, of the Special Secretary.

Article 34

The Discussion of the Topic

§1.

1º The President-Delegate, according to a list prepared by the General Secretary, calls upon the Members to speak, who have submitted their names for this purpose the day before.

2º The Synod Fathers who have petitioned to speak, give their interventions according to the order in which their request was submitted.

3º Those who represent the Synods of Bishops, the Councils of the Hierarchy of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Episcopal Conferences may speak in their name, according to the faculties given them.

4º On one and the same topic, only one synod father speaks in the name of the bodies concerned.

§2.

1º If many have requested to speak, the Synod Fathers are asked not to repeat what has already been stated, but to refer to it briefly.

2º In the same case, it is the responsibility of the President-Delegate, either personally or through one of the Members delegated by him (Article 3, 2º), to call a separate meeting of the Synod Fathers, so as to come to an agreement on a few speaking in the name of all according to the different opinions, all the while respecting the liberty of all.

§3.

1º Synod Fathers who present their request to speak and do not speak are to submit to the General Secretariat their observations in writing, which will be examined and taken into consideration in the same manner as interventions given in the synod hall.

2º Those who speak, however, are to adhere to the time established by the President-Delegate.

§4. With the assent of the Roman Pontiff, a open discussion by the Synod Fathers can take place at determined times, in a manner established by the General Secretary in conjunction with the President-Delegate.

§5. It is the responsibility of the President-Delegate to propose to the Synod Fathers, assembled in the synod hall, the end of discussion, in which case the determination is reached by a majority of votes.

Article 35

Small Groups

After the interventions of the Synod Fathers, the President-Delegate, if he judges it opportune, can move the treatment of the topic to Small Groups, which are to follow the Procedural Norms included in these Statutes. In these groups, designated according to the language spoken, the Synod Fathers elect a Moderator and a Relator. At the end of the discussion of the topic, the Synod Fathers assign to the Relator the task of speaking in their name in the general congregation.

Article 36

Responses

§1. If any Synod Father, after having listened to the opinions of others, wishes to respond or disagree with anything, he can request such permission from the President-Delegate.

§2. The President-Delegate has the authority to grant permission to respond and to set a day on which the response is to be given.

§3. On the appointed day, the President-Delegate, according to a list prepared by the General Secretary, calls upon the Synod Fathers who have requested to make a response.

§4. If the President-Delegate has not defined the length of the responses, the individual speakers are to limit their responses to a very brief comment.

§5. The speakers can make a response in the name of a group of Members; in such case, they ought to indicate in whose name they are speaking.

§6. The responses must be submitted in writing to the General Secretary.

Article 37

Study Commissions

§1. If it becomes obvious after the intervening discussions that a topic needs further development, the President-Delegate, with the consent of the Roman Pontiff, and in a manner determined by him, according to Article 8, can establish a special commission for this purpose.

§2. In the meantime the examination of other topics proceeds.

§3.

1º When the Study Commission will have reached its conclusions, a Relator, delegated by the commission, is to explain them to the Members.

2º At the request of the Synod Fathers, the President-Delegate can concede a very brief discussion on these conclusions; such a discussion is to be conducted according to Article 34.

Article 38

Voting

§1. After the discussion, the individual participants express their judgment on the opinions of Article 23, §2, with a written opinion to be submitted to the General Secretary.

§2. If the Roman Pontiff wishes a vote is to be taken, it is done according to the norms of Articles 24-26.

Article 39

The Examination and Voting on the Proposals and Documents

§1. The General Relator, the Special Secretary and the General Secretary, after considering the emendments, oversee the composition and printing of the Proposals or other possible documents.

§2. At an established time, the Synod Fathers, after having the reading of the texts, proceed to vote on them.

§3. Voting is done with the formula: placet or non placet.

§4. After the vote, the Proposals or other documents are submitted to the Roman Pontiff, according to Article 23, §4.

Chapter V. The Final Report

Article 40

The Preparation of the Report

At the end of the work of the Assembly, the General Secretary prepares a Report (Relatio circa Labores Peractos) which describes the treatment of the topic or topics examined and the conclusions reached by the Synod Fathers.

Article 41

The Submission of the Report to the Roman Pontiff

The report referred to in Article 40 is submitted to the Roman Pontiff by the General Secretary.

APPENDIX

THE MANNER OF PROCEEDING IN SMALL GROUPS

Chapter I. The Nature, Purpose and Composition of the Small Groups

Article 1

In the course of synod discussion, the President-Delegate relegates certain questions, indicated in his Concluding Presentation, for a more in-depth treatment to the Small Groups which are formed according to the various spoken languages (cf. Article 35, Order of the Synod). Each Synod Father is to participate in a group which is assigned according to the individuals choice of language. All groups are to treat the same topics.

Article 2

The goal of these Small Groups is to provide the Synod Fathers with the opportunity of expressing their opinions and comparing them with others so as to arrive at the point where together they can distinguish opposing views. The comparing of ideas should lead to a greater possible accord or even — it is hoped — to a general consensus, while always bearing in mind opposing or diverse opinions.

Article 3

The Synod Fathers are to be divided into Small Groups according to the following languages: Latin, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish together with Portuguese. If too many Synod Fathers ask to be included in the same group, that group can be further divided into two or more groups of the same language. The division into groups is to be done in the usual manner according to the alphabetical order found in the list of names of the Synod Fathers.

Chapter II. The Order in Small Groups and the Discussion of Topics

Article 4

§1. The Moderator of each group is to be one of the Synod Fathers of that group. He is to be elected at the beginning of the first session by the Members of the same group, in a secret vote (cf. C.I.C., canon 172; C.C.E.O., canon 954), cast on a ballot, by a relative majority.

§2. The Moderators responsibility in each group is:

— to announce clearly the topic for discussion which the President-Delegate has proposed to the Small Groups;

— to conduct the discussion;

— to make sure that the discussion itself does not digress from the material and questions proposed;

— to encourage active participation of the Members of the group;

— to distinguish which arguments ought to be treated before others and to set the time for speakers, if this is considered to be necessary because of the limitation of time.

Article 5

§1. The Relator of each Small Group is to be one of the Synod Fathers of that group. He is elected by the Members of the same group, by secret vote (cf. C.I.C., canon 172; C.C.E.O., canon 954), cast on a ballot, by a relative majority. The election is to take place at the beginning of the first session.

§2. The Relator in each group is:

— to present at the end of each session a summary of the opinions expressed, both pro and con;

— to prepare, after the discussion is ended, a Report for the approval of the Members of the group, which is to contain all the opinions expressed, both pro and con;

— to give the Report in plenary assembly.

Article 6

§1. The Secretary of each group is to be an assistant of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

§2. The Secretary’s responsibility in each group is:

— to assist the Moderator;

— to assist the Relator in preparing the Report and all Members of the group for whatever practical needs, they perhaps might request;

— to respond to possible requests on the part of the Members of the group;

— to prepare a written report on the proceedings of the group for submission to the General Secretariat.

Chapter III. The Presentation of the Group-Reports in the General Congregation

Article 7

At a time established by the President-Delegate, the Relators, in the name of all the Members of their groups, presents in General Congregation the Report referred to in Article 5, §2.

Article 8

When the presentation of the Reports of the Small Groups in the General Congregation is concluded, according to Article 36 (Order of the Synod of Bishops), permission to respond can be given to the Synod Fathers who might wish to add to, change or explain what has been said in the Reports_.

Article 9

After the Presentations in the General Congregation, the President-Delegate, according to Article 34 of the Order of the Synod of Bishops, initiates a discussion in the synod hall on the proposals of the Small Groups.




1 AAS 98 (2006), pp. 775-779.

2 Cf. PAUL VI, Discourse to the Roman Curia (21 September 1963): Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, I (1963), p. 149; Apostolica Sollicitudo, Introduction, paragraphs 1, 2, 4.

3 PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Apostolica SollicitudoAAS 57 (1965), 775-780.

4 Cf. CODE OF CANON LAW, canon 342.

5 Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolica Sollicitudo, Introduction, paragraph 4.

6 Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolica Sollicitudo, Introduction, paragraph 1; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops Christus Dominus, n. 5; JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastoris Gregis (16 October 2003), n. 58: AAS 96 (2004) 902-905.

7 JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastoris Gregis (16 October 2003), n. 58: AAS 96 (2004) 902-905.

8 Cf. CODE OF CANON LAW, principally in canons 342-348.

9 Cf. CODE OF CANON LAW, canon 334; CODE OF CANONS OF THE EASTERN CHURCHES, canon 46.

10 Cf. ORDO SYNODI EPISCOPORUMAAS 59 (1967) 91-103.

11 ORDO SYNODI EPISCOPORUM CELEBRANDAE RECOGNITUS ET AUCTUS (24 June 1969): AAS 61 (1969) 525-539; ORDO SYNODI EPISCOPORUM CELEBRANDAE RECOGNITUS ET AUCTUS NONNULLIS ADDITAMENTIS (20 August 1971): AAS 63 (1971) 702-704.




Synod of Bishops, The Order for the Synod of Bishops, 29 September 2006.

English accessed 23 January 2018 at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_20050309_documentation-profile_en.html#C._Ordo_Synodi_Episcoporum,_the_Order_of_the_Synod_of_Bishops