The upcoming October 2018 synod of bishops, which will focus on “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” has prompted many faithful to ask a basic question:  what exactly is a “synod”?

The word, which derives from the Greek for “traveling on a journey together,” has profound implications for the church. Designed to gather bishops to discuss doctrinal, disciplinary and pastoral issues, synods have taken place throughout the history of the church.

Pope Paul VI renewed the practice in 1965 in order to continue the spirit of collaboration that marked the Second Vatican Council. St. John Paul II and Pope Francis have both underscored the need for communion, listening and dialogue at these gatherings, at which lay voices — as well as clerical — have become increasingly important.

In this set of articles from our partner Catholic News Service, we take a closer look at synods and their implications for the body of Christ.

Synod of bishops marks a journey together
Listening, dialogue and collaboration are all part of Pope Francis’ vision for gatherings of bishops, and for the church itself as it enters the third millennium.

Synodality means walking together as a church
Pope Francis seeks a broader communion between clerics and laity, with an emphasis on listening and moving forward as one body in Christ.