Diocesan Synod

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The diocesan synod ( synodus dioecesana ) is a consultative body of the bishop in the Catholic Church , created by the bishop by inviting priests and other believers of his diocese to participate (can. 460 CIC 1983). Only the diocesan bishop may invite to a diocesan synod (can. 462 § 1 CIC). The bishop can interrupt or dissolve it (c. 468 § 1 CIC) in the event of vacancy or obstruction of the episcopal see it is automatically interrupted by law (can. 468 § 2 CIC). Archbishops can convene so-called provincial synods for their entire church province . There are born participants in a synod (can. 463 § 1 CIC). In addition, the bishop can invite other clerics, members of institutes of consecrated life or lay people (can. 463 § 2 CIC) as synodal members and non-Catholics as observers (can. 463 § 3 CIC). The bishop determines the content of the consultation. At a diocesan synod, the diocesan bishop alone has legislative power, while the synod only has a consultative vote (can. 466 CIC). This means that the decisions of the synod must first be put into effect by the bishop before they become part of diocesan law.

Until the Second Vatican Council , only clerics were allowed to participate in synods. Pope Paul VI opened the diocesan synods to lay people as well, which was also anchored in the current Church Code of 1983 (cann. 460–468 CIC ). Non-Catholic Christians may also be invited to diocesan synods as observers.

According to the Codex Iuris Canonici of 1917, every bishop should hold a diocesan synod at least every ten years. The more recent provisions of canon law are not clear on this. The intention of Vatican II, however, was to facilitate the holding of synods and in this way to involve more Christians in the responsibility of regulating church affairs. The new understanding of the church - no longer just the hierarchical order, but the church as God's people - should be realized at the diocese level . Nevertheless, diocesan synods rarely take place today. Instead, other non-binding advisory bodies are used.


  • Ferdinand A. Holtgreven: The Diocesan Synod as a legal institution. In particular, answering the question “Which persons belong to a legal Diocesan Synod?” . Publisher Russel, Münster 1868.
  • Martin Klöckener : The liturgy of the diocesan synod. Studies of history and Theology of the “Ordo ad Synodum” of the “Pontificale Romanum” . (= Liturgical scientific sources and research. 68). Verlag Aschendorff, Münster 1986 ISBN 3-402-03854-4 .
  • Georg Phillips : The Diocesan Synod . Herder, Freiburg 1849.
  • Norbert Witsch: Synodality at the level of the diocese. The provisions of universal ecclesiastical law of the Latin Church . (= Church and State Church Law. 1). Schöningh, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-506-71685-9 .

See also