What is the Instrumentum laboris (IL)?

As the Latin word suggests, the IL is first and foremost a working tool for the participants in the work of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. In this sense, the IL does not suggest answers, but notes, articulates some insights that have emerged in the process, opens up questions and invites further study.

It is therefore also a document for the discernment of the participants in the October 2023 Assembly. In fact, unlike previous synods for which the IL was a document to be amended, improved, in order to arrive at a new document, the current IL is primarily aimed at and in support of the assembly’s methodology. Although it is the complete fruit of the discernment made from the documents already written, the reading and reflection of the IL can be complemented by the reading of the Preparatory Document, the national syntheses, the Continental Stage Working Document and the seven documents of the Continental Assemblies without forgetting the one of the Digital Synod.

How did the Instrumentum laboris come about?

The IL constitutes a first – but not conclusive – point of arrival of the synodal process insofar as it is the fruit of the discernment that began with the consultation of the People of God at the local level. The fruits of this consultation were collected at the diocesan level and then summarised and sent to the Bishops’ Conferences or Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches. These in turn drafted a synthesis that was sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod in August 2021.

From the reading and analysis of the documents thus collected, a large group of experts had drafted the Working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS). The DCS was then returned to the local Churches around the world, inviting them to confront it and then meet and dialogue at the seven Continental Assemblies, while the work of the Digital Synod also continued. The aim was to focus on the insights and tensions that resonate most strongly with the experience of the Church on each continent, and to identify those that from the perspective of each continent represent the priorities to be addressed in the Synod Assembly in October 2023. Each Continental Assembly thus consensually produced a Final Document, as did the Digital Synod.

Based on all the material gathered during the listening phase, and in particular the Final Documents of the Continental Assemblies, the Instrumentum laboris (IL) was drafted.

Please visit the Synod page on our website  to read the complete FAQ and Executive Summary as well as the “Instrumentum Laboris” document.


Synod News: “Instrumentum laboris” Frequently Asked Questions