Family life will be the focus of an extraordinary general session of the Synod of Bishops that will meet at the Vatican between 5–19 October 2014.

Around 150 Synod fathers will take part in the meeting to discuss the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” It is expected to last two weeks.

This is only the third ‘extraordinary’ synod since Pope Paul VI reinstituted synods in 1965. According to the Code of Canon Law, an “extraordinary general session” of the synod is held to “deal with matters which require a speedy solution.”

The synod’s preparatory document — or Lineamenta — is available on the website of the Bishops’ Conference; they also have a link out to a questionnaire to participate actively in preparation for the 2014 Synod. Please read the document and use the Synod Response Pro-forma (Word document) to prepare your responses before using the online questionnaire. You can also simply send a completed pro-forma directly to the Bishops by email.

Their site also has details of the last Synod of Bishops meeting on the Family held in 1980 that resulted in the document Familiaris Consortio.

The second stage focusing on this important subject will be the 2015 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.