For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission

A two-year 'synodal' process is taking place in the Catholic Church that culminates in the final Synod Gathering of Bishops in Rome in October 2023. The overall theme is "For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission".

It’s an invitation for us, as Catholics, to ‘walk together’ and every member of the Church has the right to speak, and the obligation to allow those charged with the work of discernment the freedom to do so.

For the first time, the Synod Office in Rome has produced a comprehensive process which encompasses the stated aim of the Holy Father that the Church in today’s world should have a vision of missionary communion orientated to evangelisation.

The Process

The process begins in the Particular (or Local) Church and then moves to the level of the Bishops’ Conference. From there, discernment takes place in the Regional Area – for England and Wales, it would be steered by the European Council of Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) – before moving to the Universal Church with the final Synod Gathering of Bishops in 2023, sub et cum Petro.

You can read more on the Bishops’ Conference Synodal Process page. You can also download a printable PDF of this information. In addition, we have answered some Frequently Asked Questions on the Synodal Process and suggested approaches to the Synodal Pathway.


The Synod, which presents itself as a real “synodal time”, will be opened by Pope Francis on 9-10 October 2021 and subsequently in the individual dioceses by the respective bishops, on 17 October.

As highlighted above, the synodal journey will then be marked by three phases:

Diocesan Phase (Local)
October 2021 – April 2022
During which each individual faithful can participate in the diocesan consultation. This phase will end locally with a pre-synodal assembly: the culminating moment of diocesan discernment.

National Phase
A period of discernment will begin for bishops gathered in an assembly (Episcopal Conference). They will listen to what the Spirit has inspired in the churches entrusted to them. A ‘synthesis’ will be drafted and in due course sent to the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops along with the contributions of each of the local churches (before April 2022).

Continental Phase
September 2022 – March 2023
Which will have the task of discussing the text of the first Instrumentum Laboris.

Synod of Bishops (Rome)
October 2023
Finally, the synodal journey will culminate with the celebration of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”. #Synod2023

The next two years in the life of the Church

what exactly is synodality and what does it mean for Catholics in England and Wales? Fr Chris Thomas, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and Father Jan Nowotnik, Director of Mission, discuss the process and explain this invitation to communion, participation and mission.

Bishops’ Conference - Synodal Process

As we journey together towards the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome in 2023 that examines the synodal church in the 21st century, here we offer some useful information prepared by the Bishops' Conference on the process.

Questions and Answers

Here are some answers, provided by the Bishops' Conference, to frequently asked questions on the synodal process.

Diocesan Synod Contacts

The Catholic Dioceses of England and Wales have named contacts taking the lead throughout the local synodal process.

Approaches to the Synodal Pathway

Pope Francis has highlighted the importance of ‘mutual listening’ and this will be at the heart of the synodal process throughout the Church and beyond the boundaries of the Church.