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An ecclesiastical deliberative and legislative assembly. In the Roman Catholic Church it is a gathering of priests and clergy of a diocese, called by the bishop to determine legislation for the diocese or to apply the canon law to particular situations. Benedict XIV ruled that a synod must always be considered as a convocation of the diocese, as opposed to a council, which is a convocation of all the bishops of the Catholic world. The first synod was probably held under Bishop Siricius in Rome in 387. Originally a synod differed from a council only in its finality. Vatican II gave rise to a nondiocesan synod in its teaching concerning the collegiality of bishops. In 1969 Paul VI opened the first biennial synod, composed of representative bishops elected by their respective episcopal conferences as delegates.

In Presbyterian churches, synod is a court of review immediately superior to the presbytery, and consists of all ministers and elders who are members of presbyteries. Synod in the Waldensian Church is the annual legislative assembly composed of clergy and laity.