The most recent synod of bishops was the 2019 Amazon synod. A special assembly of the synod, it focused on a specific geographical area of the Church, in this case, the Amazon region, which spans nine countries in South America.
The third type of synodal meeting the pope can call is an extraordinary general assembly, which is organized in the case of an urgent matter.
The secretariat of the synod of bishops consists of a council led by Secretary General Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Pro-Secretary General Bishop Mario Grech.
The secretariat met Feb. 6-7 for the purpose of communicating to Pope Francis ideas for the next synod and to discuss the work carried out since the 2018 youth synod.
The Feb. 15 statement did not indicate what themes were proposed to Pope Francis, but said the three were decided last year through consultations with bishops’ conferences, synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, dicasteries of the Roman curia, and the Union of Superiors General.
The secretariat also released a message Feb. 15, stating it discussed the issue of migration, saying it reflected “among other things, on consequences of the migratory phenomenon taking place in different regions of the planet.”
Considering the many complications and difficulties migrants and refugees can face, including the risk of trafficking, forced prostitution, and abuse, the council of the secretariat said it “wishes to recall that the Church, while deploring the reasons that cause such a massive movement of people, is called to offer comfort, consolation and welcome to all those who are suffering in one way or another.”
Synods of bishops convened by the pope serve a mainly consultative role, as indicated in the Code of Canon Law.
Their main purpose is to foster unity between the pope and the bishops around the world, and to offer their input as the pope considers questions pertaining to the Church’s activity in different parts of the world, on issues of faith and morals, and “in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline.”
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