Pope: Synods Fundamental to Church

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Synods are a fundamental part of the Church as they are a “coming together” of the people of God to be one in Christ, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today before praying the midday Angelus together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, noting that earlier he had presided at the inaugural Mass of the 12th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The theme of the synod, which will be held at the Vatican, is “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”

“Synods are constitutive of the Church,” the Holy Father affirmed. “They are a coming together from every people and culture to be one in Christ; they are a walking together behind him who said: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’”

Benedict XVI explained that the Greek word “sýnodos,” is composed of the preposition “syn” (with), and “odòs” (way, road). He said this “suggests the idea of ‘taking the road together,’ and this is precisely the experience of the people of God in salvation history.”

The Pontiff commented on the “value and function” of the gathering of bishops: “The Synod of Bishops aims to foster close union and collaboration between the Pope and the bishops of the whole world, to furnish direct and exact information about the situation and problems of the Church, to foster an agreement on doctrine and pastoral action and to consider topics of great importance and contemporary relevance.

“These different tasks are coordinated by a permanent secretariat, which works in direct and immediate dependence on the authority of the Bishop of Rome.”

Benedict XVI revealed the Scriptural theme will be considered by 253 synodal fathers: 51 from Africa, 62 from the Americas, 41 from Asia, 90 from Europe and 9 from Oceania, as well as “numerous experts and auditors, men and women, ‘brother delegates’ from the other Churches and ecclesial communities, and other special invitees will join them.”

“I invite all of you,” he added, “to support the work of the synod with your prayer, especially invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, perfect disciple of the divine Word.”