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Editor's Choice » International

What is the Synod of Bishops and why is it important?

The Pope opened the Synod of Bishops on October 7, with prelates from all over the world in attendance. Here's a brief guide to its purpose and objectives.

What is the Synod of Bishops and why is it important?
Father James Wehner International

October 8, 2012

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The principal purpose for the Synod of Bishops, which commenced Oct. 7, is to study how the New Evangelization affects the mission of the Church. The Holy Father has asked the synod to study about "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith." As the theme indicates, the focus is on the "transmission" of the faith. Both Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have identified the New Evangelization as the response to how the Church transmits the Christian faith, considering the challenges confronting believers in today’s world. Why Does the Holy Father Need to Call a Synod? The bishops of the Church, in unity with Peter’s successor, and as successors to the apostles, were given a promise by Jesus Christ — I will be with you until the end of time (John 14:16, 26). This promise is given in relationship to the mission entrusted to their care: to teach and baptize all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). When the bishops are assembled by mandate of the pope, amazing things happen. We see this in the Acts of the Apostles, when pastoral questions were raised and answers needed to be given (Acts 15). The apostolic ministry the bishops exercise in the name of Jesus Christ shoulders them with the burdens and joys of shepherding with authority over the flock, with the same love that the Good Shepherd has for the flock — and with the mission to teach and baptize all nations. We profess our faith in an apostolic Church for a reason. The successors to the apostles, discerning with the ordained and non-ordained the needs of the Church and how to respond to those needs, are the ones who are called to definitively and authentically teach and baptize all nations. The Synod of Bishops represents a way for the Holy Father to bring bishops together to address matters of the Church in light of the Tradition of the Church and what the word of God has revealed. We should then not look at a synod as a bureaucratic process or a waste of time, but a very important moment in the life of the Church, because the Holy Spirit will bring the bishops the direction, insight and even resolution we need to advance the mission of the Catholic Church. Do Catholics Understand Evangelization? Shortly after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI convened a synod to define what we Catholics mean by "evangelization." The term, although as ancient as the Church, was ambiguous for many, and even today it does not always speak to a Catholic’s sense of mission. What does evangelization mean? Pope Paul VI’s post-synodal exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World) gave the Church sound theological principles that surely guide our understanding of what we mean by evangelization. I would encourage parishes and lay apostolate movements to read through the document as our bishops meet in Rome. This document provides the framework for understanding the principles of evangelization. Now we need to discern "how" evangelization occurs. Full Story:  The Synod and the New Evangelization: Why It’s Important for U.S. Catholics Source: National Catholic Register
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