Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Historia del Sinodo De Los Obispos

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Historia del Sinodo De Los Obispos

Article excerpt

Historia del Sinodo de los Obispos. By Manuel Alcala, S.I. (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. 1996. Pp. xxiii, 508.)

This historical account, even journalistic in the very best sense, covers fifteen assemblies of the postconciliar Synod of Bishops and is an invaluable source. It treats exhaustively nine of the ordinary sessions from 1967 through 1994 (each consisting chiefly of delegates elected by the conferences of bishops for the meeting), the two extraordinary" sessions in 1969 and 1985 (chiefly the elected presidents of the episcopal conferences), and four special assemblies for particular churches or regions (Netherlands, Europe, Africa, and Lebanon).

The volume begins with a brief introduction on the nature of the new synods-consultative to the Bishop of Rome and not yet deliberative or legislative bodies, although the latter possibility was envisioned by Paul VI in the apostolic constitution Apostolica sollicitudo of 1965. The chief element of this introduction is a brief discursus on the synod as a papal or conciliar initiative: the language of the papal document was also part of the conciliar decree Christus Dominus. In both cases the synod was defined as "representing the entire Catholic episcopate [totius catholici Episcopatus partes agens] ," a phrasing deliberately omitted in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The chapters of this massive collection may seem uneven, but this is due to the developing nature of the synod itself and the growing quantity of documentation from succeeding sessions. In every chapter the background, participants, theme or themes under discussion, the general interventions, the lesser gatherings (ciradi minores according to language),the resulting statements and propositions, the council chosen for the periods between sessions, etc. …

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