Apostolic Constitution
Episcopalis Communio
of the Holy Father Francis on the Synod of Bishops

1. Episcopal communion (episcopalis communio), with and under Peter, is manifested in a particular way in the Synod of Bishops. Instituted by Paul VI on 15 September 1965, the Synod of Bishops is one of the most precious fruits of the Second Vatican Council. Ever since then, the Synod – new as an institution but ancient in its inspiration – has provided an effective support to the Roman Pontiff, through channels that he himself established, in matters of greater importance; that is to say, those requiring special knowledge and judgment for the good of the whole Church. In this way the Synod of Bishops, “representing the entire Catholic episcopate, demonstrates the fact that all the Bishops are in hierarchical communion in solicitude for the universal Church".

For over fifty years, the Synod Assemblies have proved a valuable instrument of shared knowledge among the Bishops, of common prayer, honest exchange, deepening of Christian doctrine, reform of ecclesiastical structures and promotion of pastoral activity throughout the world. In this way, not only have these Assemblies served as a privileged locus of interpretation and reception of the rich conciliar Magisterium, but they have also given a significant impetus to subsequent papal Magisterium.

Today, too, at a point in history when the Church is embarking upon....