by Gerald Darring

In their desire to keep alive the spirit of Vatican II, and in order to establish a regular mechanism for renewal, the bishops returned to a long dormant form of gathering, the synod. Bishops from all over the world, chosen by their peers, would meet in Rome every three years to deliberate on an issue of major concern to the church. The original intention was to have the synod produce an official document, but after the 1971 synod, it was decided to refrain from promulgating a document and instead to turn over to the Holy Father the conclusions of the synod with the understanding that the Holy Father would then produce an official document based on those conclusions. The last synodal document was Justitia in Mundo, most often referred to by its English name, Justice in the World. This is the shortest document in the tradition, but in spite of its brevity it enjoys a high reputation and is regarded as exercising a strong influence on social involvement among Catholics.


Dulles, Avery, S.J. “Synod of Bishops.” Judith A. Dwyer, ed., The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1994, pp. 930-32.