Vatican City (AsiaNews) -- The Synod of Bishop turns 40. Over the past 4 decades, the Synod has been "like a heart", according to the imagery used by Cardinal Jozef Tomko in a commemorative address he gave at the Synod assembly itself last Saturday. It "gathers first in and from the communities of the Church suggestions and postive and negative experiences of the life of faith in the particular Churches of the world, just as the heart draws spent blood from the limbs to revive it and sends it out again as a new source of energy to the limbs. In the same way, general assemblies and sub-group discussions are the occasion for comparisons and evangelical discernment of ecclesial experiences in the light of faith, and, in the spirit of communion, instructions are formulated which, under the Pope's authority, visible principle of unity, are recast, as revived and renewed blood, toward the particular Churches to the advantage of church life in all the parts of Christ's mystical body."
As Monsignor Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod, mentioned in his address, 3972 Fathers have taken part in 21 synodal assemblies. Of these, 2474 attended ordinary general assemblies, 311 the two extraordinary general assemblies and 1187 the special assemblies. The smallest assembly was for the Synod for Holland with 19 synodal Fathers. The current assembly is the largest with 256 Fathers taking part.
Synods have produced, among other things, 8 post-synodal exhortations: Evangelii nuntiandi; Catechesi tradendae; Familiaris consortio; Reconciliatio et paenitentia; Christifideles laici; Pastores dabo vobis; Vita consecrata; and Pastores gregis. There have also been 6 post-synodal apostolic exhortations resulting from the special assemblies: Ecclesia in Africa; A New Hope for Lebanon; Ecclesia in America; Ecclesia in Asia; Ecclesia in Oceania; Ecclesia in Europa.