Synod on Synodality

In March 2020, Pope Francis announced that the theme for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023 would be “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. The journey towards the celebration of the Synod opened in October 2021 in dioceses around the world. Pope Francis invited the entire Church to reflect on this theme that is decisive for its life and mission.

The NCPR was invited by the Australian Bishops Conference to coordinate the consultation process for the Synod within Australia. To assist with this process, a Synod Working Group was established to oversee the activity and to offer expert advice on the practice of synodality.

The members of this group are:

  • Dr Trudy Dantis
  • Dr Stephen Reid
  • Professor Emeritus Gabrielle McMullen AM
  • Mr Daniel Ang
  • Mrs Sophy Morley
  • Fr Christopher de Souza (Aug 2023 to present)
  • Mr Paul Osborne (Jan 2024 to present)

Former Members:

  • Mr Gavin Abraham (Sept 2021 to Dec 2023)
  • Fr Stephen Hackett (Sept 2021 to Jul 2023)
  • Lana Turvey-Collins (Sept 2021)


Stage 1 – Local Consultation

In May 2022, Australian dioceses published local reports on their consultation process. Based on those reports, and using content for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia relevant to the Synod, the National Centre for Pastoral Research prepared the Australian synthesis.




Stage 2 – Continental Consultation

In October 2022, the Holy See released the Working Document for the Continental Stage. Each Continental region in the world was invited to engage with the document. The NCPR coordinated the Australian consultation and prepared the Australian Synthesis Report for the Continental Stage. The Australian response, together with those from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and the the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (CEPAC) formed the basis of the Oceania response which was published in April 2023.


Stage 3 – Universal Consultation

Based on the responses from each of the Continental Regions, the Holy See released the Instrumentum Laboris for the first assembly of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Also, for the first time, priests, deacons, religious men and women, and lay people – both men and women – were invited to be participants in the Synod.


The First Assembly

The first assembly of the Synod took place from 4-29 October 2023, and Dr Trudy Dantis, from the NCPR, was invited to participate in the assembly. Based on the discussions of those at the assembly, first, a Letter to the People of God was published, followed by the Synthesis Report.

In anticipation of the second assembly of the Synod due to occur in October 2024, bishops’ conferences have been tasked with consulting with their dioceses and other national groups on the content of the Synthesis Report (see press release and guidelines). The NCPR has developed several resources to assist diocesan groups and other national groups in undertaking the consultation. Based on the responses from the consultation, the NCPR will develop a National Summary which will be submitted to the Holy See, along with any diocesan testimonies, by Wednesday 15 May 2024.

Further information about the Synod process and related media reports are available at: