Difference between regional synod and Bishops confrences

In the past, the catholic Church used to have what were called regional synods that would institute canons and solve disputes within this respective regions. From some quotes from the fathers and historians it was evident that the acts of such synods were sent to Rome to be confirmed although on a number of cases the synods never did this. However it was at least the ecclesiastical law on paper

Today we have regional “bishops conferences” which do not institute regional canons nor define anything. Could these still be considered “synods” even though the form and authority of such meetings has been diminished or are bishops conferences a different thing all together?

Bishop’s Conferences have no binding authority on the bishops that attend them, or on the faithful. There are merely advisory, although some bishops will take that advice, weigh the decisions suggested and implement them using their episcopal authority within their diocese… or choose not to.


A “synod” can still be held on a diocesan level. It is legislative, to the extent that the diocesan bishop wants it to be (see Code of Canon Law, canons 460-468). Provincial councils (the archdiocese and its suffragan dioceses) and Plenary councils (for an entire episcopal conference) are still possible and would correspond to the “synods” you mentioned. They are legislative (see canons 439-446).

Conferences of Bishops are indeed different (canons 447-459 and John Paul II’s Apostolos suos). They are not synods.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM (Code of Canon Law)
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_22071998_apostolos-suos_en.html (Apostolos suos)


Thank you… To both posters. This was very informative and answers my question:)

God bless you

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