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New apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio gives the Synod of Bishops teaching authority

Wake up and smell the newest apostolic constitution from the Holy Father: Episcopalis Communio. Released this morning, it re-writes some of the rules for the Synod of Bishops. The stand-out feature is that it for the first time invests the Synod with formal teaching authority. Instead of simply submitting recommendations to the pope (usually but not always publicly), the Synod will produce a final document, co-signed by the pope, that will of itself constitute "ordinary magisterium."

That's the hot take; now let's get into the theological weeds.

What is Episcopalis Communio?

It's an apostolic constitution, which is the ordinary means by which a pope establishes new rules for the Catholic Church, of which he is the visible and earthly head, possessing "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power" (CIC, can. 331). The most common use is to create a new (arch)diocese. This is Pope Francis's 17th such document. The previous one, from December, …

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