The next Synod of Bishops will take place in October 2018 on the theme of “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation,” the Vatican announced today.

In a statement, the Vatican said Pope Francis had decided on the theme after "customary consultation" with “bishops’ conferences, the sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Union of Superiors General, and having listened to the suggestions of the Fathers of the last synodal assembly and the opinion of the XIV Ordinary Council.”

The statement added that the theme chosen for the 15th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is an “expression of pastoral concern of the Church for the young" and is "in continuity with the findings from the recent synodal assemblies on the family and with the contents of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia."

It added that the synod "wishes to accompany young people along their existential journey towards maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life plan and achieve it joyfully, opening themselves up to an encounter with God and humanity and actively taking part in the building of the Church and society."

News of the decision comes after speculation that the next synod would be about priestly celibacy and a possible push to allow married priests, something Pope Francis is known to be keen to examine. That proposal was understood to have been voted down by the majority of members on the XIV Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops, the body charged with drawing up the theme of the next synod. 

The members of the XIV Ordinary Council, appointed in October 2015, are:

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria;

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa;

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras;

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect, Promoting Integral Human Development;

Cardinal George Pell, prefect, Secretariat for the Economy;

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect, Congregation for Bishops;

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India;

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines;

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England;

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship;

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, USA;

Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy.