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|. The task of the Synod of Bishops|
1- The Church is communion
The Church of the Lord, “people whose unity derives from the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” seeks to live and realize that unity following the example and the image of the Holy trinity, unity in the communion that respects diversity of the local, regional and universal Church.
2- Eastern Patriarchate
Since the early times of Christianity, the local churches, (dioceses or eparchies) having the bishops their heads and leaders, were organized around the Bishops of the five most important cities of the Roman Empire (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem). The Bishops of those cities were called Patriarchs according to the privileges defined by the ecumenical Councils starting with The Council of Nicaea in 325. Vatican II Council, in the decree on Eastern Churches, define the Patriarch as “bishop with jurisdiction (authority) over all bishops, including hierarchs, clergy and lay fidelity of his territory or his rite, according to the norms of Law, while preserving the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.
The local churches, each represented by its bishop, since “the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the Bishop,” as put by Saint Cyprian, gathered around the patriarch and forming the patriarchate, they walk together the same path. Those bishops form what we call the Synod in order to achieve the triple task assigned to the successors of the Apostles by Our Lord: to teach, to sanctify and to administer.
Also, the bishops members of the Holy Synod in communion with their head, the Patriarch, “form the supreme instance of all patriarchate tasks, without excluding the right of establishing new eparchies and nominating bishops of their own rite within the borders of the patriarchal territory, preserving the right of the Roman Pontiff to arbitrate (intervene) in each case”.
4- The Synodality in the Maronite Church
The documents that we have on the practice of synodality in the Maronite Church go back to the beginning of the seventeenth century; they give evidence however of an old Maronite practice in that domain. Consequently, the Maronite hierarchy had lived the Episcopal synodality, in a particular way, in conformity with the monastic status of its members. The latter, remaining monks after their election patriarchs or bishops, they would continue to live in the same monastery like monks, and the Bishops would represent the Patriarch in defined pastoral missions.
The Lebanese Synod (1736), sought by Rome in order to put in practice the Reform of the Council of Trent in the Maronite Church, was a very important turning point in the synodal life of the Maronite Church. Starting that date, they fixed the borders of the eparchies and nominated the bishops.
At present, the synodality of the Maronite Church, being an Eastern Catholic Church, is managed by the Canon Code of the Eastern Churches (CCEO) and the Particular Law of the Maronite Church.