The Synod of Bishops is the Assembly of all the Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church. Literally it means in its Greek verbal form to travel in company, to have fellowship with, to accompany or to walk together along the same path and in its noun form it signifies an assembly or gathering especially for deliberation. In the ecclesiastical sense the word synod means the assembly of heads of Churches, regularly or canonically convoked to deliberate and legislate on religious affairs. The synodal system of Church structure evolved from the college of apostles who took important decisions collegially. The very being of Church is communion and the synodal structure expresses this ecclesiology of communion with its various principles of autonomy, unity in diversity, equality and the right of every Church to grow and develop which has been very much emphasized in the Second Vatican Council.
The Synod of Bishops canonically convoked and presided over by the Patriarch/Major Archbishop constitutes the supreme authority of a particular Church. It is the legislature, superior tribunal and the electoral college of a particular Church. The Synod of Bishops is not an organ of the Patriarch/Major Archbishop but the supreme authority of a Church, of which the Patriarch/Major Archbishop is the head.
According to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, all and solely ordained bishops of the patriarchal Church wherever they are constituted, excluding those forbidden by law, are members of the synod. Even though, according to CCEO, particular law could have restricted the deliberative vote of those bishops constituted outside the proper territory of the Church, the particular law of the Syro-Malabar Church grants them the same power of deliberative vote as those bishops from within the territory of the Church. Non-Episcopal participation in the synod is excluded totally in accordance with the ancient tradition of the undivided Church.
The First Synod of the Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church was held on the very same day when the Major Archbishop Mar Antony Cardinal Padiyara was installed in office, i.e. on 20 May 1993 and the same session of the Synod that lasted up to 25 May discussed the Synodal Statutes which were later published in the Particular Laws of the Syro-Malabar Church (Synodal News, Vol. 11, No. 1, May 2003).
Permanent Synod is the organ forming part of the Major Archiepiscopal Curia, constituted for a five year term to help the Major Archbishop in matters of ordinary administration or in expediting urgent affairs. Permanent Synod consists of five bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, including the Major Archbishop as its President.