VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is codifying ways of consulting ordinary Catholics about issues facing the Catholic Church and is giving more decision-making options to bishops to interpret and implement them.
Francis issued new rules Tuesday reforming the Synod of Bishops, the consultative body established 50 years ago to give popes an organized way of bringing bishops together to debate problems facing the church.
In the past, synods have merely made proposals to the pope to consider. The new rules say the bishops’ final document — if approved by the pope — becomes part of his official church teaching, or magisterium.
Francis also codified a process of consulting the faithful before a synod, as he has done informally for his 2014-2015 meetings on the family and the upcoming synod on youth.