For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission

A four-year 'synodal' process is taking place across the Catholic Church
(2021-24). This is an important moment in the life of the world Church, with Pope Francis calling on us to reflect on the theme For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission. Pope Francis is inviting us to take this journey together, with the word “synodality” referring to the active participation of all members of our faith family in the life and mission of the Church. As the Preparatory Document for the Synod expresses, “This path of walking together is the most effective way of manifesting and putting into practice the nature of the Church as the pilgrim and missionary People of God". The Synodal process is now in its third and final stage. For an overview of all the stages, see the 'Synodal Process' flow diagram below, from

Details of the most recent publication, the synthesis report from the first session of the XVI General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Autumn 2023) can be found here.‍

Local Consultation: The Diocesan Phase

In 2022 parish groups, national organisations and religious communities engaged in a number of listening conversations, exploring the way the Church embraces her missionary mandate in today’s world. The ideas and thoughts collected through these conversations formed our Diocesan Syntheses - the "local" part of the Synodal process. The responses of people in this diocese were gathered and read carefully, and informed our diocesan submission document, called the Synthesis of Synod Responses. You can read this document, which was submitted to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) here.

Bishop Richard's Synod Webinar

People and parish groups from across our diocesan community contributed to the local phase of the Synod, with an estimated 1,000 people contributing their reflections on the questions posed by Rome. If you were unable to attend Bishop Richard’s Feedback Webinar, you can watch it below.

Regional Dialogue 2022-3

Episcopal Conference & Continental Phases: From the themes that emerged from the diocesan reports, the National Synthesis Team drafted a National Synthesis for England and Wales which was sent to the Synod Office in Rome accompanied by Seeking our Hearts' Desire, the Bishops' Reflection on it.

In the Continental Phase, expert representatives from five continents (lay people, religious and clergy) met in Autumn 2022 to synthesize the reports from the 100 bishops’ conferences who made submissions into a single report, Enlarge the space of your tent, which was sent back to dioceses with groups invited to reflect on it, so national delegations could bring insights to Continental Assemblies. The European Continental Assembly was held in Prague in February 2023. Each continental assembly then sent their reflections to the Synod Office in Rome and from them the Instrumentum laboris (working document) for the next phase was produced.

Exploring the Synod process

The Synod is an invitation to people across our community of faith to ‘walk together’, with every member of the Church encouraged to participate.

Bishops will play a key role, listening to the people of God in their particular Church and, under the power of the Holy Spirit, to hear and discern what is being said of that Church. It is important that those taking part in the Synod allow those charged with the work of discernment, the freedom and support to do so.

Each local Church is a fundamental part of the Universal Church, so what is shared within each local Church is important, contributing to the whole.

The Universal Phase 2023-4

The Instrumentum laboris was released in June 2023. It called for a welcoming Church which embraces diversity and it formed the basis for the work of the First Session of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality, which took place at the Vatican in October 2023. You can read about the delegates from England and Wales here.

At the end of that session, a Synthesis Report was published. Looking ahead to the final Synod Gathering of Bishops in Rome in October 2024, the text offers reflections and proposals on topics such as the role of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood and the diaconate, the importance of the poor and migrants, digital mission, ecumenism, and abuse. You can read a summary of the Synthesis Report here.