A new document of Pope Francis. A milestone towards the democratisation of the Church

Home   >   News

A new document of Pope Francis. A milestone towards the democratisation of the Church
fot.REUTERS/Tony Gentile? FORUM

An apostolic constitution Episcopalis communio issued in the Vatican on Tuesday will surprise everyone who has been accustomed to the hierarchical structure of the Church and to the role of the Holy Father being perceived as the first teacher. This is because the principles of the document democratise the Church in an institutionalised manner. We can even call it a revolution in the management of the Church.


One of the novelties introduced by Episcopalis communio is the establishment of pre-synodal consultations and the decision – attention! – that the final document of the synod takes part in the ordinary teaching of the Holy Father! This news may be shocking to those who carefully kept track of the elaboration of final documents of the previous synod of Pope Francis – the documents that, as a result of democratic voting, contained fragments allowing the Holy Communion to be granted to divorced persons and proposing a change of approach to homosexual relationships.


As reported by the Polish Catholic Information Agency, the new apostolic constitution stipulates the possibility of convoking a pre-synodal assembly (as has already happened in the case of the Synod on Young People that begins on 3rd October). From now on, the Pope may also decide that the synod assembly will be divided into a few stages held at various times. The new apostolic constitution refers to three phases of the synod: the preparatory phase, the celebratory phase, and the implementation phase. Referring to the celebratory phase, the document reminds us that the Holy Father always presides the sessions of the synod and appoints one or more delegated chairmen.  The synod works during general congregations and in small circles. A free exchange of opinions on the issues being considered is also possible from time to time.


Episcopalis communio indicates that the outcome of works of sessions of the synod is the final document. If it is clearly approved by synodal fathers and by the Holy Father, it takes part in the Pope’s ordinary teaching. If the Roman Bishop grants the decisive vote to the synod assembly, pursuant to Canon 343 of the Code of Canon Law and when the final document is ratified and promulgated by St. Peter’s Successor, it participates in the Pope’s ordinary teaching. In such a case, the final document should be published with the signature of the Holy Father and members of the synod.


Previously, as you may remember, popes issued their own apostolic exhortations after synods (for example, Amoris laetitia was announced in this way); as Saint Peter’s successors, they assumed the effort and responsibility for teaching God’s People and giving instructions to priests, obviously taking some opinions of the participants of the Synod into account. Thus, the step that is aimed at decentralising the decision-making process may also be interpreted as a step that blurs the responsibility for the “ordinary teaching” of the Pope, who will now be entitled to refer to the democratic voice of the synod.


Apostolic exhortations have usually been part of ordinary teaching, because the scope of the category of extraordinary teaching usually includes the Pope’s opinions when he intends to “define” the truth that it is necessary to believe in or reject.  In such cases, the category of infallibility applies. The Pope’s other teaching, which is also often included in papal encyclicals, is ordinary teaching.


It is worth adding that after the last few synods it was not disclosed which of the synodal fathers had voted for which solution.


This is not the end of changes – from now on, not only bishops will participate in council sessions. The PCIA reports that, pursuant to the new apostolic constitution, the Holy Father may summon also other persons not being bishops to participate in the synod assembly and will always determine their role on his own.


The Holy Father decided that the new apostolic constitution would enter into force upon its publication in the L’Osservatore Romano.



Krystian Kratiuk

Source: Polish Catholic Information Agency



DATA: 2018-09-21 12:47
Comment on the article
Nick *:
Your opinion *:
wyślij opinie
Click to read

1. It is forbidden to publish comments on the forum that:
- promote deviant behavior, contrary to the natural law;
- offend the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church;
- contain obscenity (pursuant to Art. 3 of the Act of 7 October 1999 On the Polish Language);
- contain information burdening other persons with accusations which have not been proven (Art. 23 of the Civil Code);
- lead to copyright infringement (Act of 4 February 1994 On Copyright and Related Rights);
- contain links to and addresses of other websites, personal details, contact information or e-mail addresses;
- are advertisements or spam (have no relation to the commented article);
- are direct, brutal attacks on interlocutors or call for aggression against them;
- are inappropriate in the context of information about the death of a public or private person;
- contain remarks addressed to the editorial team of PCh24.pl (we really appreciate them but we ask for e-mail contact as only then we can assure that they will be delivered to the persons responsible for the service content).


2. All comments contravening item one of the present Rules will be removed by the moderator.



Copyright 2019 by


No materials published by www.pch.24.pl may be copied, distributed, redistributed or exploited in any form, including posting on the Internet, without the consent of Fundacja Instytutu Edukacji Społecznej i Religijnej im. Ks. Piotra Skargi located in Kraków (Publisher). Any use or exploitation of any material in whole or in part violating the law, i.e. without the permission of the Publisher is prohibited under penalty and may be prosecuted.

Requests should be directed to the editorial staff of the website at: [email protected] Permission is granted in written or electronic form.

The content of this website, after obtaining permission, maybe distributed so long as directly under the published material the information about its source (PCh24.pl) and a link to the source page (a link with the attribute rel=”follow”) are included. Permission does not include any illustrations related to texts. This clause does not apply to these users of this website who link any material published on a website in social media.