Pope Francis has decided the next world Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, which will take place in October 2022, will have the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”

The topic of synodality has been an important feature in Pope Francis’ pontificate. In October 2015, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod of Bishops by St Paul VI, Pope Francis said, “From the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome, I sought to enhance the Synod, which is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council… it is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church in the third millennium”.

More recently, speaking to the International Theological Commission in 2018, the Holy Father said the theme of synodality “is very close to my heart: synodality is a style, it is walking together, and it is what the Lord expects of the Church in the third millennium”.

In October, Pope Francis will open a three-year synodal journey with three phases (diocesan, continental, universal) of consultations and discernment, culminating with the assembly in October 2023 in Rome.

What is the synodal process? Here are some answers, provided by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, to frequently asked questions on the synodal process.

The synodal journey will begin at the Vatican, in the presence of the Pope, on 9 and 10 October 2021 with a time for encounter and reflection, followed by a moment of prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist.

Diocesan phase: consultation and participation of the People of God

The particular (or local) Churches will begin their journey on Sunday, 17 October 2021, under the presidency of the diocesan bishop.

If you missed the CAFOD Webinar: Synodality: a new way of being the Catholic Church you can listen to the recording here