• Greek: synodos, assembly


An assembly of ecclesiastics gathered under hierarchical authority for the purpose of discussing and deciding upon matters pertaining to discipline and liturgy for their territory. The words “synod” and “council” are synonymous. These terms were used synonymously as early as the 3rd century. Today the term synod is restricted to the diocesan synod only, at least in the United States. Pope Benedict XIV in his book “De Synodo Dioecesana” defines a diocesan synod as follows: “A lawful assembly convoked by the bishop, in which he gathers together the priests and clerics of his diocese and all others who are bound to attend it, for the purpose of doing and deliberating concerning what belongs to the pastoral care.” The Council of Trent requires diocesan synods should be held once each year. The New Code says they are to be held every 10 years at least. The mode of convocation, the place, preparations for a synod, the election of officers, etc., are established and may be found in the “Pontificale Romanum,” “Caeremoniale Episcoporum,” and “Codex Iuris Canonici” (can., 357, 360, 361). The bishop is the only legislator in the synod, all others have only a consultive vote. The bishop alone signs the laws passed in the synod, which if they are promulgated in the synod, have binding force immediately, unless the bishop states otherwise.

MLA Citation

  • “synod”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 January 2020. Web. 11 May 2021. <>