Robert Mickens writes (NCR 12 October 2015) about Synod procedures and makes the following comment, which is worth reflecting upon.
Without a doubt, the pope has many allies, even among bishops, who are trying to help him reform the mentality, procedures and structures in the church. But when it comes to the Synod of Bishops, even many of them are still thinking with the old status quo rather than by creatively and more profoundly plumbing the church's tradition.
It is disappointing and disturbing how many among them -- or anyone in the church -- do not even have a correct understanding of the nature of the synod.
For example, it's neither correct nor helpful to refer to the "synod on the family" or "this year's synod." This only reinforces the erroneous notion that the synod exists only for those few weeks whenever the pope explicitly calls the bishops to Rome.
No, the Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution. The gatherings, like the one currently taking place in Rome, are called assemblies or sessions.