Commission for information of the
16 November-12 December 1997
"Encounter with the
Living Jesus Christ,
The Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops is only a working instrument for journalistic use and the translations from the original are not official.
05 - 17.11.1997
At 5:10 pm today, with the singing of the "Adsumus" in the presence of the Holy Father, the Second General Congregation opened with the speeches of the Synodal Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal theme. The President Delegate on duty was H. Em. Cardinal Eugênio DE ARAUJO SALES, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The following Fathers spoke:
Herein we publish the summaries of the following speeches:
The Gospel on the Family and Life which constitutes in the integral gospel of Jesus Christ a "single and indivisible gospel" (Cf. E.V. No.2), is one reason, always old and always new, that unites today, in a very special way, all the Church, called together by the Successor of Peter, in order to expedite this struggle for dignity of individuals and peoples.
The Holy Father refers to this new category of individuals who are not a "social class" according to the interpretation recognized by some ideological currents, as in Marxist collectivism, with its characteristic conception of "class struggle". Fortunately it has been re-thought by some theologians, which provides hope for harmony with the doctrine of the Church. This new category is constituted by the most poor, defenseless, and unarmed; by the most innocent: the "unborn", (conceived, not born), the seriously sick, the elderly considered as dead weight. This new category is constituted also by the poor people, submissive to the great powers of this world, who would like to impose a new culture, a new morality, a new anthropology. In defense of the flock and of humanity, as said by St. Gregory the Great, Pastors have to "fill the gap.to come face to face with the greats of this world, speaking in total freedom..." This is happening and must be invigorated.
There remains, with all its demands, the ethics of justice and solidarity, the evangelical option for the poor. Families accosted by the scourge of misery have the right to all the necessary for the fulfillment of their calling and to attain their happiness. Children cannot be victims of a misery that destroys them, undermines their home, or the possibility of constructing it, and thrusts them with inclemency to abandonment IN and OF the streets. Authentic solidarity with the poor peoples and with those beaten by misery, as demanded by of justice and solidarity, uses as a thermometer the actual situation of families and their possibility for integral human development. One cannot take advantage of misery in order to impose on peoples and families a contraceptive and abortive colonialism that reduces persons to things.
This is a cause that calls together the bishops and the peoples of America in an historical service to humanity. It mobilizes pastors in a new and dynamic unity, profoundly liberated, with the strength of the truth, rather than ideological reductionism. It frees humanity from its current historical shame, that will be recognized as such, as today one recognizes with embarrassment the regimen of slavery and discriminations, above all racial, which prevailed on our continent.
The Holy Father offers us the liveliest example of prophetic zeal in this cause of the Church and of humanity, in order to give a voice to the poorest and the most innocent.
[00023-02.04] [Original text: Castilian]
The pastoral challenges we face now and into the immediate future are those that, for the most part, are endemic to many so-called first world countries and seem to be reflected throughout the new world. First among them is the fact that the social mores, particularly in large urban areas and reflected in the means of social communications, have so changed in the past years as to produce a climate that is extremely secular and very much focused on the material world. Where once there was a community and social structure that supported religious faith and encouraged family life, we now find an increasing lack of both the support and the encouragement. In fact, the heavy emphasis on the individual and his or her rights has greatly eroded the concept of the common good and its ability to call people to something beyond themselves. This impacts strongly on our capacity to bring meaningful social change or positive advancement in the conditions affecting human life and development. On the brighter side is a sense among some of our young people that the secular, material world does not provide them sufficient answers for their lives. Over and over, the phenomena of youth gatherings from as large as World Youth Day to as modest as parish programs speak of the searching for value and direction.
[00018-02.00] [Original text English]
Cardinal José Freire Falcão, Archbishop of Brasilia, Brazil, spoke of the rapid process of urbanization of the Latin-American countries as a challenge for a new evangelization in Latin America.
There is a need of a courageous urban pastoral plan in cities marked by permissive morals and by a crisis in the institution of the family, religious and cultural pluralism, rapid cultural transformations, the migratory phenomenon and social marginalization, technological progress and a scientific-technical mentality, and by threats to life. Urban culture demands the revitalization of parishes, as well as new and daring structures of evangelization.
There is a need of a catechesis which leads to personal faith, conscious and committed, nurtured by the Sacred Scripture, faithful to Tradition and to the Magisterium of the Church, capable of withstanding the aggressiveness of sects, of integrating itself into the process of urbanization of the Latin-American peoples, and to confront the questioning of Christian values by means of social communication and by strong currents of public opinion. This catechesis must be able to confront a secularist view of life, practical agnosticism and religious indifference.
I conclude saying that we must pass from a presupposed Catholicism to a proposed Catholicism, from a defensive Catholicism to a forward-looking Catholicism which is the salt of the earth and light of the world. This is what is needed, to respond to the pastoral challenges of large cities.
[00011-02.04] [Original text: Portuguese]
The concept of Solidarity is very much part of the teaching of the Church. The people see it as a deeply felt need in our Continent. In spite of the efforts that have been made it is still necessary to give the concept of solidarity more credibility in our Churches. We recognize the generous aid the Church of Latin America has received, but we must also recognize the existence of a dramatic social reality which calls for a stimulating word of hope as well as a firm denunciation of the deeply rooted causes that produce these evils. To some extent we are to blame for our problems because of the endemic causes that continue to afflict us. But there are also external causes to aggravate the situation. Latin America’s political, economic and commercial relations with North America have always been out of proportion and much to our disadvantage. At this moment all our countries feel oppressed by the weight of an unpayable and unmanageable debt which prevents us from providing larger resources for social expenditure. On the other hand there is a contradiction between the macro-economy now developing in our nations and the real poverty of our peoples. In the context of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I consider the appeal the Holy Father has made to seek a solution for the problem of this debt as most appropriate and timely, " proposing the Jubilee as the right time to think, among other things, about a considerable reduction, or even total cancellation" of the debt.
In this context, we would suggest a vast plan of cooperation and aid from the industrialized countries to benefit the developing countries, although we know from the experience of the last few years the price these countries have paid in having unacceptable population policies thrust upon them with all the immoral practices supposedly civilized countries are capable of conceiving
[00012-02.03] [Original text: Castilian]
Three hundred, fifty-one years ago, priests of the church of Uzhorod made a commitment to union with the church of Rome. One of the conditions of this union was fidelity to the heritage of the East. In many ways, from both internal and external forces, this condition has been violated. However, the commitment to the union has endured.
The condition for union in 1646, that our church retain its authentic traditions, has become, in 1997, a call for a return to that heritage.
In the United States, the Eastern Catholic Church was divided twice by defections in protest against the imposition of clerical celibacy. The population of the American community has been further reduced by simple demographics and by defections due to feelings of cultural inferiority. Despite this the church has made remarkable progress. The Eastern Catholic Church in America has responded to the call of the universal church for a renewal of its authentic tradition. The Liturgy has been restored, not in an antiquarian way, but in sensitivity to the pastoral needs of this people. The Byzantine Catholic Church, in fact, pioneered the use of the vernacular in the Liturgy long before such an option was even considered in the Roman Catholic Church.
The church in the United States has responded to the call of Vatican II to rediscover its authentic heritage. It is impossible to return to the structures of three-hundred years ago, or even decades ago because of the decisive changes that have taken place in the world society, especially in the United States. It has begun to restore its tradition by the method of "organic development" (Decree on the Eastern Catholic Church, 6). The secular world in the twentieth century is giving alternative answers for a future human utopia, but, as Christians, we must proclaim that our future lies only in the following after Jesus our Lord.
The church has asked for an "organic development " of the Eastern tradition rather than a radical grafting on of Western ideas and usages known as latinization.
Since the Second Vatican Council, the church has reaffirmed over and over again the importance of the Eastern experience of faith for the health of the universal church. As Eastern Christians, our faithfulness to our heritage will be of value not only to ourselves, but to the church as a whole. In 1985, Pope John Paul II made the since oft quoted statement, "the church must learn to breathe again with its two lungs, its Eastern one and its Western one."
An important theme in the ministry of Holiness, Pope John Paul II is the importance of the eastern tradition for the universal Church. The theology, spiritually, liturgy, and life of the Eastern Church is necessary for an understanding of the role of Christianity, and essential in any renewal of the Catholic Church. The apostolic Letter he wrote in May of 1995, entitled "Orientale Lumen", is his strongest statement yet on this issue. The Pope asks Western Christians to feel, with him, "a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church’s catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may all be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West. (10)" This statement is an expansion of what the Vatican II Council taught, "Everyone should realize that it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve and foster the rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern Churches in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition".
The Church is not complete without its Eastern component. The two traditions cannot be kept in two independent compartments. The Vatican Council enumerates the values of the East: "From their very origins the Churches of the east have had a treasury from which the Church of the West has drawn largely for its liturgy, spiritual tradition and jurisprudence. Nor must we underestimate the fact that the basic dogmas of the Christian faith concerning the Trinity and the Word of God made flesh from the Virgin Mary were defined in Ecumenical Councils held in the East. (Decree on Ecumenism, 14)"
The Eastern tradition is not the only valid tradition within the Church, nor is it the only road to God for all peoples. However, it is a real gift to us - both to those born in the tradition and those who discover it. Basically, our faith, as expressed in the Eastern tradition, brings us to salvation, it unites us to God , and it transform us into children of God. Faithfulness to the eastern tradition is that the universal Church desperately needs the Eastern view point to be healthy. Our mission as an Eastern Church is to witness to that tradition to the West. The importance of the Eastern tradition for the universal Church has been an important theme in the ministry of Pope John Paul II The theology, spirituality, liturgy and life of the Eastern Church is necessary for an understanding of the role of Christianity and essential in any renewal of the Catholic Church.
As a cultural expression of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Byzantine tradition is eternally valid, for "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) The catholic Church has reaffirmed many times the importance of the Eastern church for a complete understanding of Jesus as our Savior, especially since the Vatican Council II. In fact, it has had such an important role in formulating our faith throughout the course of history, that Christianity cannot survive without its Eastern component. This is perhaps why the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, directed that the eastern Churches be faithful to their heritage.
As we reach the end of 1997, interest in the coming change of centuries and even millennia is beginning to rise. Since it will be a "new" century and a "new" millennium, perhaps it is also a time for 2newness". This would be God-like, for our Lord said, "Behold, I make all things new. (Revelation 21:50)"
The millennium can be a tool for a renewal at the "opportune time", as Vatican II Decree on ecumenism(6) says.
For us Eastern Christians, this means a rediscovery of our authentic heritage, which has come to be buried under the false values of the world and minimalism. It means the restoration of traditions that we have fallen away from, not in the sense of returning to the past, but of looking forward to a quality future in the United Stated, where the gospel will be proclaimed, and truth and justice will be accessible to all. That, after all, is exactly what a Jubilee Year is about.
[00017-02.05] [Original text: English]
All parts of the globe are now economically and culturally related. Thus, our Synod cannot be seen in isolation from the rest of the world and the interests of other nations in these hemispheres.
Globalization can be seen as a positive challenge to the Church today. She must articulate the values that a global culture should include: (1) the dignity of each human person; (2) the central role of the family; (3) the rightful role of women in society and Church; (4) the option for the poor; (5) opportunities for work and the rights of workers; (6) education and human development; (7) ecological concerns; (8) religious freedom; (9) just and incorrupt governments which seek the common good of all.
One obstacle is the lack of international structures to embody these values. The Church must articulate these values clearly, then seek to work with other Christians and people of goodwill to embody them in the economy and culture.
Can the Church in these hemispheres be the prophetic voice needed to witness to and proclaim these values needed in a global economy and culture?
[00014-02.02] [Original text: English]
Ecuador, is a small country of 275,000 square kilometers of territorial surface, with 12 million inhabitants. If one distributes the public debt to each inhabitant, each of the Ecuadorians would have to pay 1,200 dollars; also we must keep in mind that each child who is born in Ecuador, already from birth has a public debt of 1,200 dollars. If one considers that 60% or 70% of the Ecuadorian population is poor, one comes to the conclusion that Ecuador cannot materially pay its external debt with the contribution of its inhabitants.
Three years ago the Ecuadorian governor, headed by President Sixto Duran Ballen managed to re-negotiate the debt with the major part of the international creditors; he could not re-negotiate anything with the Paris Club of Banks.
Servicing the external debt requires in Ecuador a substantial percentage of the national budget. While in 1988 only 12% of the budget was destined to the servicing of the external debt, in 1989 it reached 27% of the national budget and in 1996, 36.05%, approaching 40% of the budget. For the present year one can predict 29.21%, or nearly 30% of the budget of 18 billion Ecuadorian sucres (Ecuadorian monetary unit). Thus, 6 billion Ecuadorian sucres must be allotted to servicing the external debt, in such a manner that the State will not be able to allot sufficient funds for education, which, by law, must receive 30% of the budget; however, in fact, it will get only 21.19%, and health gets barely 3% or 4%of the national budget. The lack of sufficient attention to public education creates periodic strikes by educators with detriment to the education of children and youth. There are also frequent strikes by family doctors and health workers, who demand not only higher salaries, but, above all, more attention to public hospitals. These strikes, inclusive of those of governmental sectors, frequently disturb the civil peace and social order.
Many Christians of Latin America and of my Country hope that this Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops launches in world public opinion the call that His Holiness Pope John Paul II formulated in his apostolic letter "Tertio Millenio Adveniente" that a solution be found to the problem of international external debt, "proposing the universal Jublilee of the year 2000 as an opportune time to think, among other things, of a notable reduction, if not, of a total remission of same" (TMA, 51).
An effective experience of solidarity among the countries of America will overcome injustices and economic inequalities.
[00015-02.03] [Original text: Castilian]
The Synod takes place at a time when Pentecostal purification is required in our lives. In accord with the words of St. John: "Let us love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it", the Synod is a call to action - action that permits an exchange of gifts and promotes the dignity of everyone in America.
Twenty-one years ago, when the USA held a call to action in Detroit, intending to mobilize herself on the issues of solidarity, justice and Christian charity at the service of those in need, Paul VI reminded us that in the tradition of the Church, any call to action is first of all a call to prayer.
The Synod for America, with its precise finality and theme, is above all a call to prayer. We are invited to observe the priorities in the Acts of the Apostles, including prayer in its highest form, which is Eucharistic worship. The Synod must proclaim the primacy of prayer in the Church. Prayer is among the most eloquent signs of Millennial renewal. In calling our people to prayer, we proclaim that full, conscious and active participation in the Eucharist is the source and summit of their Christian lives. The experience of many bishops also shows that Eucharistic adoration is another emerging sign of the times, reinforcing participation in the liturgy. Because the Synod is a call to action, it is a call to prayer.
[00019-02.03] [Original text: English]
1. There has been found to be a greater consciousness among the lay faithful concerning the gift of Baptism which leads to a missionary commitment. In regard to this, the Holy Father said. " Pastors should recognize and promote the services and functions of faithful Laymen that have their sacramental foundation in Baptism and Confirmation" (CFL).
2. Today, more than ever, it is up to all God’s people to accept the promoting of the New Evangelization. The action of laymen is necessary and , in many fields, decisive.
The "Instructions" of the Holy See, published on the 13th of this month, are not a regression in the call for laymen to participate in the Church. Attention is only called to some abuses and a warning on certain doctrinal errors.
3. Brazil has 87% Catholics in a population of 150 million inhabitants. In the third millennium, as far as numbers are concerned, it will be the biggest Catholic country in the world. It has 15,500 priests. One priest for 10,000 people. More to our advantage is that the clergy are constantly increasing and we have 890,000 lay collaborators, which means 57 lay collaborators for every priest. There are many "extraordinary ministries" carried out by laymen with due authorization, in the field of liturgy, the sacraments, administration and Church services, in councils in community and group social activities.
4. Lay activities are especially important in their own specific field, which is the secular world. Without the "leading role of laymen" the Gospel would not reach modern culture and the areopagi of our time.
I would like to call attention to the serious situation of the Continent in the southern hemisphere. The North must take account of the globalization of the neo-liberal system which is emarginating millions and millions of poor brethren of Latin America. We need not only to fight the facts but also struggle to overcome the deadly system of capitalism in its present terrible phase which is economic neo-liberalism. The text of the Gospel of St. Matthew 25,31-40 inspires us to take the position of "preferential option for the poor"
[00020-02.04] [Original text: Portoguese]
The process towards worldliness, in great part fruit of urban, modern, and post-modern culture, which afflicts the family today, profoundly weakens fundamental family values, as, with respect to life, matrimonial indissolubility, conjugal fidelity, and religious education of children.
At the same time, there have been introduced, many times approved by civil law, divorce, abortion, contraception, sterilization, et cetera.
Having said this, we become the messengers of the Holy Father on behalf of the family and of life, as in the Second World Meeting of the Pope with families, in Rio de Janeiro, in October past. Thus, the following:
1. Make the evangelization of families a pastoral priority.
2. Regarding evangelization of families, announce first to them the person of Jesus Christ, dead and resurrected, and the immense love of God for families, which is manifested in Christ, as well as the good news of the sacrament of marriage.
3. In the daily life of a Christian family, unite freedom with truth, happiness with faithfulness, love with responsibility.
4. Fight in the legislature for laws favoring the family and life from the moment of conception until natural death.
5. Commit oneself to the struggle against misery and hunger, which affects so many families, making it difficult for them to live their vocation and mission as family.
[00021-02.03] [Original text: Portoguese]
Proclaiming Jesus Christ. This is the formidable cry of St. Paul that continually echoes through the Synodal hall. It is the topic the Pope has chosen for this Assembly so that the attention of the American Episcopate is entirely concentrated on Evangelization. The key point, the nerve center, is the topic of the living Jesus Christ. John Paul II recently stated in a Message to the C.E.L.A.M .that "everything planned in the activities of the Church must stem from Christ and His Gospel". The Church must focus all its pastoral attention and all its evangelzing efforts on Jesus Christ, its Lord. At this decisive hour, in this Synod, we must examine with fortitude, sincerity and a sense of realism how we are carrying out the task of evangelization and how we are to accomplish it in the future. We should be very faithful to pastoral philosophy and the divine evangelizing teaching of Jesus. Perhaps we should be more concerned, not only with the poor as the primary object of Evangelization, but also with poverty itself in Evangelization as a source of apostolic fertility. Considering our resources and time, it is important to give further attention to direct evangelization.
Consider some concrete proposals:
- Trace in the most expressive and complete way the figure and the likeness of Jesus Christ the Evangelizor as a reference point for the overall task of New Evangelization which the Synod must urge in America.
- Seek really effective and resolute evangelizing strategies to solve the problems we have raised and for the great challenges that confront us at the end of this century: among these I would mention the urgency of dealing with the aggressiveness and expansion of the sects.
- Listen to the outcry of the poor, the native peoples, the Afro-Americans and the Hispanics.
- May the Synod bring about a wide-scale renewal in the Church.
- May the Synod be an evangelizing event, preparing the Churches of the Continent to enter the Third Millennium of Christianity.
- May the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, the outcome of the Synod, bear the emblematic and programmatic title of Christ in America.
[00022-02.02] [Original text: Castilian]
As we approach the Third Millennium we are not afraid nor do we shrink from honestly assessing our culpability for the woeful divisions which developed among the Lord’s flock so as to scatter multitudes, and damage the bond of ecclesial communion, divisions wich are yet painfully apparent to this day but which we are committed to overcoming with the help of the Holy Spirit.
In his address Oct. 25, 1997 at Jesuit Georgetown University in Washington, D.C:, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, said: "We confirm not with unexpected astonishment, but neither with indifference, that indeed the divergence between us continually increases and the end point to which our courses are taking us, foreseeably, are indeed different... The manner in which we exist has become ontologically different. Unless our ontological transfiguration and transformation toward one common model of life is achieved, not only in form but also in substance, unity and its accompanying realization become impossible".
In marketing the charge that a difference of ontological propositions lies at the root of any such divergence, the Patriarch pronounces a sentence of death upon the ecumenical dialogue. By implication, one can infer by the Patriarch’s perceived ontological change in the essential nature of Latin Church, he no longer considers it the true church of Christ. In the same statement, the Patriarch succinctly states "concerning those have freely chosen to shun the correct glory of God, the Orthodox Church follows the Apostle Paul’s recommendation wich is: ‘A man that is heretic after the first and second admonition, reject’ ( Ti.3:10)" Dear Brothers, these are words which should grieve us deeply.
Why have I pursued the line of thought I have thus presented, considering my topic is the relationship between the Eastern and latin churches in America, especially the United States? It is because the history of relations between Catholics and Eastern and Latin churches has not always represented an ideal example of respect and solidarity. Our clergy and faithful can recall with pain incidents of inequitable and repressive administrative measures imposed upon them which in turn fostered underlying feelings of inferiority and a reflexive defensiveness. During the 20th century, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, has experienced much pain and distress in the U.S. from these wounds of division, from both the Latin Church, often through misunderstanding, and from the Orthodox Churches, because of our fidelity to the See of Peter, which they view as a betrayal of our authentic spiritual patrimony. Despite numerous obstacles, through Divine Providence and the grace of the Holy Spirit, we have managed to survive.
As we approach the Third Millennium, we pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire in all of our hearts and souls the grace and grant each of us the wisdom to fulfill the prayer of our Lord, "so that they may all be one...that the world may believe that you sent me." (Jn.19:21)
[00024-02.03] [Original text: English]
One of the "modern Areopagi" requiring urgent evangelization is that of the means of social communication. There is an agreement to deal with this question at two levels: 1) the use of the media to transmit the gospel and the magisterium; and 2) the integration of the Gospel in this "new culture".
How can we use the media to transmit the Gospel message and the magisterium of the Church? The following are practical steps: 1) Every diocese and bishops’ conference should develop and carry out a pastoral plan for communications and include communications in every pastoral plan. Because we are celebrating a Synod of Bishops for America, it would be appropriate for the bishops of America to develop together a pastoral plan in communications for all of America, especially regarding satellite use, the sharing of programming and cooperation in production. 2) I would ask that every diocese and bishops’ conference use the free air time offered in some countries for religious programming. 3) The telecasting of well celebrated liturgies can offer not only consolation to the sick but also but also catechesis for active and inactive Catholics and evangelization for those who do not share our faith. 4) We can tap the creative talents of catholic broadcasters to develop programming for stations of general interest in various formats, even value-centered "telenovelas". 5) We should continue the establishment of Catholic radio and television stations where that is legally and economically possible. 6) There is a need to develop and support sound Catholic publications of professional quality for all levels of the reading public as a means of Catholic information, formation, inspiration, continuing religious education and reinforced Catholic identification. It is helpful to cooperate with specially gifted lay people and religious who have developed media ministries. The bishop should be a principle of unity and coordination in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the media.
The integration of the Gospel message in this "new culture" created by modern communications is an even greater challenge. Pastoral outreach to media professionals can have an effect throughout society. Personal contact with media professionals and with media owners and directors to explain Catholic concerns can often be more fruitful than a public declaration of war over a perceived grievance. It is important to be honestly responsive to questions on sensitive issues through brief and apt response. Media formation centers are most important to form committed Catholics in the language of the media and to offer well trained personnel to the media.
One way the Church is entering into the new culture of communications is through the development of a computer network, the Red Informatica de la Iglesia in America Latina. (in the original document the following passage, to the end, was in Spanish) The RIIAL organizes its work in three distinct areas: the Communication System, the Documentary Archives System and Data Bases of Entities and Persons. The Red Informatica is a Church activity because it uses media techniques within its capacities and promotes the exchange and broadcasting of news, documents and other information, as well as maintaining a constant relation with the members of the Church, in order to uphold the faith and the building of the kingdom of God.
[00025-02.02] [Original text: English]
This General Congregation concluded at 7.05pm with the prayer "Angelus Domini". There were 217 Fathers present.