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.
11 - 21.11.1997
At 9.10 a.m. today, the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the singing of the "Third Hour", the Eighth General Congregation of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America was held, with the continuation of the debate on the Synodal theme. President Delegate on duty was His Eminence Card. Roger Michael MAHONY, Archbishop of Los Angeles.
At the opening of the session, the President Delegate made the following speech:
"As the Holy Father reminded us last Sunday during the Angelus prayer, 21 November, the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the World Day of Contemplative Consecrated Life in the Church.
On this occasion, we happily call to mind the countless contemplative communities in monasteries throughout the world. Many of these communities have notified us that they are remembering the intention of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America in their prayers and sacrifices. On this special day, we express our gratitude to them not only for their prayers for this synodal gathering, but for their unceasing prayer for the whole Church. We are grateful for the powerful witness of their lives, for the total and unreserved gift of self to the Lord in their cloistered life, in their life of silence, penance, and apostolic fruitfulness. We do this, devotedly recalling the life and example of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, who, without ever having left her convent, is proclaimed as Patroness of the Missions and more recently bestowed with the singular dignity of Doctor of the Church".
The following Fathers intervened:
Herein we publish the summaries of the following speeches:
1. The Instrumentum Laboris may under emphasize the presence, long established but rapidly growing in this century, of Asian and Pacific Island peoples.
The Church’s pastoral action in the U.S.A. must attend to an Asian/Pacific population (7.2 million) equal to the population of Bolivia and greater than that of Paraguay and Uruguay.
2. The Instrumentum Laboris rightly fears the "inadequacy of (immigrants’) inserting themselves into the societies". Add to that a mood of unwelcome prevalent today in the U.S.A. and in other industrialized countries.
3.The Church, bearing the Gospel, speaks for those in need, but especially for the household of the faith, with concern for families and for disadvantaged workers. The Church in the U.S. must seek the counsel of Asian/Pacific Island Bishops to aid them with the various communities as well as seeking the help of Maryknoll and other experienced missionary societies. Priests and religious who serve their own communities are esteemed, along with those others in the diocese who learn the new languages.
4. Asian/Pacific Island people in the U.S. seek recognition. They sense their leadership both because of the length of residence in the country and their well developed talents. The young, so disproportionately numerous in college and university populations, promise influential leadership in the future.
5. A last question remains why overseas Chinese are so strong in the Churches of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia compared to our hemisphere.
Twelve percent of the U.S.A. will be Asian/Pacific people by the year 2025. They are worthy of much attention.
[00099-02.03]  [Original text: English]
1. The Social Doctrine of the Church (SDC) is part of the doctrinal heritage of the Church and its precise contribution to the enlightenment of society can only be understood in the context of this heritage.
2. Above all communion is not something done by us; it is the gift of the One and Triune God who gave us the Holy Spirit to allow us to live - as a Church - in the same unity as the Persons of the Trinity. The solidarity the Church promotes is not communion, which is the Church, but a refection of it in the world, in the hope that God is accomplishing His work and is He who is "everything in all things". The Church bestows its benefits upon the world but remains distinct from it, affirming its identity. The SDC derives from this communion and strives for solidarity.
3. The SDC offers fullness and depth to politics and economics, but above all to the immediate perception of everything human. This is what allows the most noble aspirations of social life to be maintained, while at the same time indicating what paths to follow for their fulfillment. About a century and a half of intense social activity reveals its consistency when it results from following Jesus. Great value must be placed on the love for poverty we find in the Gospels as the source of the capacity for transformation.
4. The SDC can illuminate the multi-coloured church window of continental America so that the face of Jesus Christ is visible in our communion, as it was yesterday, is today and shall be forever.
[00100-02003]  [Original text: Castilian]
I wish to comment in a personal manner on Number 46 of the Instrumentum Laboris. It discusses a coordinated plan on the parts of all the sects in order to alter the religious identity of the people of Latin-America, which is essentially Catholic...they orient their proselytizing campaign towards the emarginated of society, towards the immigrants, towards those in prisons, towards the sick in hospitals and in general towards all those who live in the peripheral zones of the large cities, where the presence of the Catholic Church, at times, is not consistent.
I accept that their attacks seek to divide us and uproot our very own religious identity. And already they have caused us havoc. But I believe however, that one of the principal causes of the problem and tragedy consists in THE LACK OF OUR ACTIVE PRESENCE IN THE WORLD OF SUFFERING AND OF EXCLUSION, GIVING SOLIDARITY AND HOPE, ACCOMPANYING THOSE WHO SUFFER. They enter taking our vacant seats. We have to take another look at our pastoral dedication towards those who suffer, and verify that we truly exercise the option for the poor, bishops as well, by being present in those places, where one hears the cry of loneliness and discouragement: prisons, homes for the aged. Where one hears- the cry of desperation as voiced in the hospitals or shantytowns on the hills surrounding our cities. I believe that the greater our presence, the less the activity of these sects.
[00101-02.04] [0-0089] [Original text: Castilian]
The encounter with the living Jesus Christ, the Way to solidarity, puts in relief the commandment for the love of God. The incarnation of the Redeemer is the most sublime manifestation of the nearness and of the solidarity of God with mankind.
1. Faith in God and solidarity are strictly linked. "In the light of the Faith, solidarity transcends itself, by taking on the specifically Christian dimensions of total gratitude, pardon, and reconciliation". (SRS, n. 40)
2. Individual initiatives are not sufficient to achieve this end. The principal task of the Church is that which She takes as Her own: a global vision of the person and of humanity, which implies joint action. This concept refers to the interdependence of those who form the Church and of all humanity.
3. The Church in America must be the exemplary cause of this solidarity. Nurtured by Faith in Jesus Christ, solidarity is one part of justice, and this is symbolized in charity. We must count on greater stable relations of solidarity within the Church. She must protect action of solidarity within the family. And it is necessary to entrust to lay experts in economy, the search for more solid solutions to the needs of humanity, taking into account the poor and the weak and those who suffer.
[00102-02.05]  [Original text: Castilian]
The Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) hold an important position in the coordination and communion structures, approved by the Pontifical and Latin American Magisterium in various documents.
In our Latin American Continent they developed also as a pastoral option in different places. This presumes a constant dialogue between the pastors and members of these communities.
Their forming elements are the following: the centrality of the Word, a missionary dimension in solidarity, the experience of brotherhood, their coordination and parish representation, promotion of lay ministers, fulcrum of social transformation and the strucutural element at the basis of the community.
The formation of leaders must be a preferencial preoccupation for pastors and bishops. Ecclesiality of its members is guaranteed by the experience of the triple priestly, prophetic and real dimension, in a community which must be a sign of the presence of God in the world.
In BEC there is the basic love of the Church for humble people , its religiosity is valued and the opportunity is offered to take part in the ecclesial task and in transforming the world.
Time has shown that there is a rich experience in the Latin American Church where communities are closely followed.
It is best to insist on the importance and Latin American originality of BEC, as we understand this according to the magisterium. On assessing record of the BEC during the past 30 years, we have noticed an experience of the Spirit which, although there are aspects to be studied further in-depth or even to be channeled, is very positive and enriches the Church on the Continent. It would be necessary to provide renewed and decisive support to this way of being the Church.
[00103-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
The "the current success of the ministries entrusted to the lay faithful" (Ch.L 23) has already been acknowledged; these ministries are often very diverse and are a gift of the Spirit in the life of the communities, offered in the service of the Church and the world.
The three major criteria for the promotion and animation of these ministries are the ones derived from N. 73 of Evangelii Nuntiandi.
We should return to the category of the Church as the People of God, distinguishing the equal dignity of all her members in the diversity of the ministries so that all of us can find a way of being the church while each of us follows his or her own particular vocation.
In order to achieve this mission, all the members of the Body of Christ receive gifts of the Holy Spirit for the common good. Among these gifts the community can discover and strengthen some which are attributed with more specific functions recognized as being for the good of the entire community. These functions, when recognized by the community and confirmed by the Pastors, are then transformed into ministries.
The lay ministries are characterized by their "essence" and not by the rank according to the ordained ministry, and can develop within the broad fields of the three functions of Christ, priestly, prophetic and royal, serving the community so that the latter can fulfill its mission in the world.
[00104-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
One of the most decisive aspects of Vatican II was that dealing with the Church in the Lumen Gentium Constitution, the mystery and community aspects were given priority over hierarchical ministry.
This meant that what is most important in the Church is that which all baptized people have in common: communion in following Christ and in the missionary task. The Council therefore solemnly affirmed the basic equality of all believers (Cf. L.G. 32).
Nevertheless, it is worrying to observe today that most lay Christians feel as if they are second class members of the Church. They feel somewhat excluded from the major decisions of the ecclesial community. Since they feel excluded, they likewise feel very little co-responsibility, thus leading to imbalance and the impoverishment of the whole Church and her task of evangelization.
The challenge is to identify forms of activity, decision making and organization in which lay Christians enjoy an increasing amount of participation, with the development of co-responsibility. The primary means for the creation of this dynamic process and awareness is obviously dialogue and common discernment.
[00105-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
The Church considers very positively the growing interdependence among populations and nations when placed in the ethical parameters of authentic development, eliminating poverty and a greater increase of the universal common good.
Although good, this reality is not free from ambiguity.
When interdependence is not for world solidarity, it becomes part of an exploitation mechanism by some people and nations against others, such as destroying cultures and identity. However, the Church must strongly insist on the moral parameters which configure the ethical validity of said process.
In this context it is very important for our Continent to distinguish between this phenomenon and the ideology which dominates it and pretends to transform it into "globalization". "Globalization" appears as an ideological concept which in theory tries to explain and transform the growing world interdependence into a reality of a free market economy.
The ideology of globalization makes people believe they are guilty for their poverty since they are incapable of competing on this "market", which is in fact unjust and falsely free.
The Church cannot help denouncing and condemning this ideology which by "globalization" tries to implant economic mechanism at planetary level which imply systematic exclusion of the weakest.
[00106-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
To ensure the encounter with Jesus Christ takes place, we must draw attention to the places where this occurs, that is in the parishes. We cannot even avoid supporting those who are the privileged makers, that is the priests and many lay faithful collaborators.
A parish is often considered as a place for celebrating the sacraments. However, it's duty goes beyong this. Moreover, the image and function the pastoral, must be inspired by biblical images of the sower and of the fisherman. The image of the sower reminds us the vocation of being sent into the world to sow the Word of God generously in all places and to all the people to be evangelized. The image of the fisherman invocks his mission of going out into the open sea, a dangerous place but also where there is the miracule of fishing...The parish is called to operate in a larger circile than its territory. It would have no future in today's modern world if it is closed in itself. It must create links with neighboring parishes, the living forces of the environment, and with other social and economic elements. It must become human and personalized, multiplying itself into many small ecclesial communities linked to each other. It has to be renewed in order to be revitalized.
On the other hand, the ministries also need to be planned and organized to make it possible to meet the living Jesus Christ. In several dioceses of the Church in America, there are not sufficient priests for the task. It is a grace for the Church that several lay faithful, men and women, who have had a good theological and pastoral formation, can participate in the pastoral work. These people accomplish a real ministry. Their contribution towards evangelizing young people, families, living environments, has become indispensable. With Pope Paul VI who joyfully and openly greeted their contribution by saying "The Church recognizes the place of the non ordained ministries, but which can ensure a special service to the Church", it is good that this Synod, which is anxious about evangelization in America, encourages all the workers involved in evangelization.
[00107-02.04]  [Original text: French]
The proclamation of the Gospel aimed at conversion and communion should be presented in a positive, attractive and comprehensible way.
The Gospel should be perceived as joyful message, truly liberating, a fulfilling reality which meets and even goes beyond the deepest and most noble expectations of man’s heart, giving an adequate response to the most pressing need of people and of the whole of civil society.
The encounter with Christ the Savior and His Gospel should be presented and perceived as a treasure unexpectedly discovered in a field and worth enthusiastically risking everything for; like a pearl of great value which was sought after eagerly and then joyfully discovered (Cf. Mt 13:44-45). Salvation is something unexpected, undeserved, and at the same time secretly desired and sought.
Proclaiming the Gospel should not be an exhausting task, concentrating on criticism, full of reproaches, of questioning, of the sowing of mere doubts, but rather a joyful announcement, providing consolation, relief, challenge and hope.
[00108-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
I would especially like to speak on N. 26 of the Instrumentum Laboris and on the general guidelines for evangelizing action published by the CNBB in 1995 (Cf. Doc. 54).
This is a new apostolic attitude towards Brazil’s religious pluralism and an attempt to bring Catholics who have turned away from the Church back into the fold.
Evangelization requires the Church to go beyond its own communities and get into touch with other environments where people live.
The first transformation is required from Catholics themselves, who must become preachers of the Gospel, genuinely involved in evangelization. They require suitable training and spirituality.
On the other hand, the Church’s internal structures should open up so that the lay faithful are in the forefront of evangelization.
In many Brazilian dioceses, one can already see a considerable activity among the lay faithful, especially lay women and religious women, animated by a significant mystical impetus and missionary ardor.
The letter to the Ephesians (Ef 4:11) talks about the gift of the evangelist, characterized by initiative, capacity to face new situations, wisdom to understand new times, sensitivity to interpret the needs facing the Church.
I therefore propose that the whole of America, in a spirit of community witness, adopt a clearly evangelizing attitude which will bring our people to encounter the living Jesus Christ and to the solidarity among our churches and nations.
[00109-02.04]  [Original text: Portoguese]
The Archbishop of Barquismento stressed that the path towards conversion, communion and solidarity necessarily involves the witnessing of holiness by all the pastors, who open to a frank, sincere dialogue with their close collaborators (priests, deacons, ordained men and women, the lay faithful), must make an effort to discern in them a concrete sign of the living Jesus Christ. The proclamation of the Gospel must be characterized by holiness, from which the Church derives her strength in order to renew the world and the structures requiring conversion.
To this end, we should definitely consider pastoral action aimed at holiness. The saints represent models of authentic conversion; people who, having actually experienced a living and personal encounter with Jesus Christ, are agents of communion open to the Cross in its double dimension, vertical and horizontal, so that there can be a real encounter with God by mankind and among men. If we want profound evangelization, we have to undertake the way to holiness.
The new evangelizers have to show themselves as visible, transparent and credible signs of the living Jesus Christ and the Church.
Holiness is the fulcrum of transformation in personal, family and social life. It is the starting point for all pastors in the search for the means to identify and conform their lives with the eternal High Priest, and to have the same feelings and attitudes as the Supreme Pastor. America and the whole world need holy priests.
In order to face this challenge, proper training of the clergy is required, highlighting the following aspects:
1. To ensure the good selection of candidates to the priesthood.
2. To ensure the necessary quality and quantify of superiors and teachers in the seminaries.
3. To stress the permanent training of priests, without excluding any of the aspects of an integral process enabling them to live in accordance with the gift and the ministry to which they are called.
[00110-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
1. The Synod is an occasion when we Bishops can profess our faith and love to Jesus Christ on the eve of the Great Jubilee of His Birth. It is opportune to recall the words of the extraordinary Synod of 1985: "Christ is the light of the nations!...The Church becomes more credible if She speaks less of Herself and preaches more and more Jesus crucified". Let us ask ourselves whether, in the pastoral work, there has been some kind of distortion, which could put Jesus Christ in second place compared to pastoral organization.
2. Hence there is a certain pastoral hardness, which forgets that "sacrament sunt propter homines", and that this will have to be overcome by a study of pastoral anthropology.
3. It is necessary to underline the Jubilee nature of the Church as Her permanent and constitutional feature. This is in view of:
a) insisting on the need to adjust even more the practice of the sacrament of Penance according to Jesus merciful. Therefore, it is necessary to encourage the Bishops to exert the ministry of pardon with spiritual generosity and also help current confessors to better prepare future confessors;
b) insisting on the need to analyze whether the sect phenomenon has some kind of root in the Church, whether it stems for example from pastoral work inadequately carried out.
c) insisting on the need to promote the Communion of goods and economic reform of the Church, as a sign of faith in Jesus Christ, who "although he was rich, he became poor for your sake, so that you should become rich through his poverty" (2 Co 8:9).
[00112-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
Paul VI taught that the Gospel must be preached not only in language that is faithful, but also in language that can be heard. It has no culture of its own, but takes root in the world’s varied cultures. Such diversity of expression is a sign of the Gospel’s vitality and richness.
This "dialogue of salvation" begins by listening, and by respecting the truth, value and dignity within the other person. It uses the language and culture of the hearer. In honest dialogue, the Church must admit its own mistakes. No issue, however painful, can stay closed to discussion.
In the Americas, the Church, seen as peripheral to real-life issues, is less rejected than marginalized. In turn, the Church often attempts to preserve the Gospel rather than communicate it. Many times it simply repeats religious language the culture finds meaningless.
Instead, the Gospel demands that the Church today must dialogue with those estranged from it. Such group include: women, on their role in Church and society; homosexual persons, on discrimination and sensitivity toward them; youth, on the values they hold; environmentalists, on the use of creation and population issues; the pro-choice movement, on freedom of conscience; New Age movements; those in fractured families and broken marriages; and other similar groups.
Dialogue involves risk, and will not be easy. But given the Church’s marginalization, there is greater risk in no dialogue. To be faithful to the Gospel is not to be fearful for it.
At the Areopagus, Paul brought the Gospel into culture in a way that respected the values of his hearers. John Paul II suggests a "modern Areopagus" as a model. Our Gospel is that of the cross of Christ, which embraces every woman and man. With the Gospel as our bases, must we not engage in dialogue even with those who may not understand or accept all the Church teaches?
[00113-02.03]  [Original text: English]
I hope that one of the fruits of this Synod will be the fraternal integration of all the diverse peoples, races and cultures composing America in all its varied, complex facets. This is an important challenge for the Church.
She has been virtually alone in proclaiming and in trying to achieve that fine ideal at the core of the Christian message.
One should not forget St. Peter Claver, the Spanish Jesuit who became a Colombian missionary in Cartagena. An example of fraternal charity, he referred to himself as "the salve of the black slaves forever". In the United States, one could also recall the name and the message of the apostle of non-violence and the integration of the American blacks, Martin Luther King, who paid so dearly for his commitment.
The mission of fraternal integration must especially take into account the African roots in Brazil, the United States, Haiti, Panama, Colombia and other countries where history, culture and development cannot be interpreted without the inestimable contribution of million of Afro-Americans who have given their work, their sacrifice and their blood for the life of America.
The celebration of the Synod to prepare the great Jubilee is a time of grace. I hope that on this providential occasion our Catholic communities will encourage more priestly and religious vocations and evangelization by the lay faithful among the Afro-Americans and indigenous groups.
The "slave route", about which much has been said recently in Africa and America, should become the missionary route for freedom and dignity in accordance with Christ’s universal and eternal message.
[00114-02.04]  [Original text: French]
The virtually unanimous welcome that Ex corde Ecclesiae received reveals the genuine desire of Catholic universities to remain in the heart of the Church. However the turmoil over the implementation of the apostolic letter in an important part of America reveals that the discovery of an appropriate concrete relationship between the Catholic universities and the Church remains elusive.
As Ex corde Ecclesiae states, the Catholic university is first of all a university that, as university, has the added characteristic of being a university in service of the Church’s mission. A tension exists between these two aspects of the Catholic university, a tension that must remain a creative one. A mere juridical or legal approach will not resolve it. Rather solutions will arise only in genuine listening to the teaching of the Church in that atmosphere of openness that academic freedom presupposes.
The Synod should encourage Catholic universities to affirmative action in their hiring practices, to an apostolically preferential academic commitment, and to and academic freedom that is sensitive to mission. The Word that the Church teaches will not be understood unless it is born out of a search, in dialogue, for the specific task and mission of the Catholic university.
Preparing the Jubilee of the Redeeming Incarnation and as a way of evangelization, the Synod for America must recall our American history and culture. Remembering the past of the peoples helps to project the future. We cannot forget the history of people. As pastors we must go beyond the economic and technological criteria, and with great frankness without ignoring differences and barriers aim at transcending values of the North and South in order to prepare a way which is suitable for evangelization and solidarity. A simpler view, which is not ignorant about the modern geopolitics, could pause on the negative aspect underlining situations on both sides. It is important to highlight the positive values which animate life of the peoples of America and point out a Christian expression which must grow in the new evangelization. Others will speak with authority about the North. When looking at the South, it is important to underline the triple bond of the same faith, language and culture, which are expressed in the eucharistic, marian and faithful worship to the Pope: a history which is always done with or against the Church. From Antonio de Montesinos to the four big Latin American Episcopal Conferences there is always the same line of defense of mankind and his promotion among the weakest and in justice - promotion which is shown in the work of the bishops, religious and lay faithful. It finds expression in popular religiosity and in the wonderful works of art. An inheritance of liberalization and humanization, fragmented in the struggle for independence which must transform and take on ecclesial solidarity as an evangelizing challenge for the whole of America and the world, beyond any hurdle and co-sharing the values of all the churches.
[00116-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
When the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace published the document on foreign debt in 1986, it pointed out that the responsibility for this problem was shared by both sides, creditors and debtors, and this meant that both had to take action in order to overcome the situation. And this same idea appears in different pontifical documents of the Pope’s Magisterium.
However, I now wish to recall in particular what the Encyclical "Centesimus Annus" clearly and firmly pointed out to us: "It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied, and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish" (No.34).
It is up to us as Pastors of our Church, on the American Continent, to echo this pontifical statement. Here we have heard the testimonies based on exact data on the suffering of our peoples in dramatic situations caused by debt.
Now we must clearly indicate the need to judge various administrations by strict justice, which, take advantage of apparently generous loan offers, happily pawned the future of impoverished countries, without said temporal benefits reaching most of the impoverished masses, thus permitting an increase in capital of those few who are rich today.
And as regards those who facilitated said loans without paying attention to promptness in paying interest, it is not right that these new debts accrue in addition to the loan capital making it necessary to continue paying interest for an amount which is already insoluble and ends up by oppressing those people making them poorer than before and fully dependent on their creditors.
We must therefore fulfill the obligation of being aware of a world which continues to ignore with a guilty conscience the Law of God, and which is based on human laws imposed by those who hold the power of economic strength. It is up to the latter to give up these interests.
[00117-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
1. Pluralism in the Americas invites a commitment to ecumenical unity that has been called essential to Christ’s mission. This Synod seeks evangelization for "all men and women" of good will towards an encounter with Christ." #6
2. Past history and divisions contrast present opportunity after Vatican Council II engaging ecumenical consciousness in the Church. New consequences for faith foster this form of communion in our evangelizing mission. #s42,49
3. Effective ecumenism in America will be as varied as present ecclesial reality is uneven. In the past our Episcopal conferences have profited by joint efforts sharing information and experiences. We should consider periodic meetings of conference representatives to treat of ecumenical, interreligious and other concerns. #49
4. Analogous outcomes to our Synod meetings may result. A number of ecumenical responses to the Lineamenta have been positive in part. Our collaboration will open doors to less hostility, greater understanding, mutual respect and growth toward unity. #67
[00118-02.02]  [Original text: English]
The Eighth General Congregation concluded at 12.00 a.m. with the prayer "Angelus Domini". There were 217 Fathers present.