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.
12 - 21.11.1997
The Ninth General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops Special Assembly for America, commenced today, in the presece of the Holy Father, at 5:10 in the afternoon, with the Synod Prayer, in French, for the continuation of the debate on the Synodal theme. President Delegate on duty: H.Em.R. Card. Roger Michael MAHONY, Archbishop of Los Angeles.
The following Fathers intervened:
Herein follow the summaries of interventions of the Synodal Fathers:
Instrumentum laboris develops the Synod theme in the ecclesiological context of communion. Therefore it seems to be important to preserve in the concept of "communio" its Trinitarian anchoring. "Communio" in the biblical and patristic sense stems from reciprocity of the divine Persons and denotes participation of the members of the mystical Body in intratrinitarian life. If "communio" is conceived in this way, then as a result:
1. participation of the Father and the Holy Spirit remains integral in the work of salvation carried out by Christ;
2. Christian proclamation maintains the fascination which emanates the fullness of life in the Trinity without falling into superficial moralism; love for our neighbor is possible thanks to the grace of God;
3. confusion between "communio" and solidarity is diminished; in fact, solidarity describes mutual commitment for a social guarantee between the individual and the community, and does not necessarily include the divine and mystical dimension of the Church.
[00119-02.04]  [Original text: Italian]
Second Vatican Council, citing St. Jerome, affirmed that to ignore the Scriptures is to ignore Christ" (Dei Verbum, 25). Precisely for this reason, it is important and fundamental to draw the people of God to the Bible as a point of departure for a renewal and in order to give a response to the great challenges of the present moment in America.
One treats of a vital reading with the conviction of which the Scriptures surge from the life and the experience of a people guided by God who, through the Faith, discover his presence and his interpellation in history and are forced to respond to these.
On this itinerary of faith, through means of which one rises to catch hold of a greater clarity in the recognition of the truth, all the people of God take an active role. The church, guided by its pastors, strives for a knowledge of the word of God which corresponds to the signs of the times and of the places.
"Thanks to its topical character, the Bible clears up many real problems: the question of ministry, the communitarian dimension of the Church, the preferential option for the poor, liberation theology, the condition of women. The up-to-datedness can also be attuned to the values continually experienced by our modern awareness, as the rights of the individual, the protection of human life, the preservation of the natural environment, the aspiration to universal peace." (Pont. Bib. Comm.: The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, c. IV, Introd.)
In plan for a new evangelization for America, it is urgent and important to restore the Bible to the people of God, destination of the same. One has to accompany them in this reading. With this accompanying, we are sure that the people reading the Bible, can depart from their situation to realize in daily life on a personal, communitarian, and social and ideal level, the communion and the solidarity proposed in this Synod.
[00120-02.06  [Original text: Castilian]
Millions of impoverished people (field workers and the unemployed) are migrating, seeking in the cities or in another country a more dignified life, survival and material improvement.
They risk their lives, spend their savings, live in a clandestine manner. Without any legal guarantees, many of them fall into the hands of exploiters. They accept heavy, unhealthy and degrading jobs. They abandon moral values, often going into prostitution or drugs. They often live in sub-human conditions, scorned and excluded.
Religious values are the first ones to go. Without these, the human personality becomes unscrupulous and aggressive. When people lose their cultural roots and religious traditions they feel insecure and are an easy prey to proselytizing and fundamentalists sects.
The current migrations are not caused by wars or political persecution. Nevertheless, they are very worrying.
"The problem of migration...is...a challenge to charity and justice in the world (John Paul II). The Church has always been concerned with migrants and must be even more so today. This is a special task for pastors at the source of migration and in target countries.
Migration is a right. It means to be welcomed and to see one’s very religion and traditions respected. Instead, laws are becoming stricter for immigrants.
Proposals: create an evangelization plan for migrants; influence lawmakers so that they make fairer laws; pressure on governments to implement development policies aimed at inhibiting migration; organize a joint missionary effort so that the faithful perceive that we love them and look after them with tenderness and concern.
[00121-02.04]  [Original text: Portoguese]
These words of St. Paul give us great courage: "When I am weak, then I am strong". In the face of the phenomenon of globalization the Church frequently finds herself marginalized. We can and we must stand with and for the poor. Advocacy is often the most we can do. In all candor we must acknowledge our weakness.
We are in the world, but not of it. Therein lies our strength. We have the folly of the cross; we have faith in Jesus Christ. We must proclaim Him as Lord. We must evangelize culture, even while recognizing that the Church creates her own culture. The theme of this Special Assembly illustrates this Catholic culture: Encounter With The Living Jesus Christ, The Way To Conversion, Communion, Solidarity.
To give an account of the hope that is within us is to be more clearly who we are: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. To this end this Special Assembly might underscore:
1. The universal call to holiness
2. The bond of unity with ministry of Peter
3. The role of bishops as teachers of the faith
4. The vocation of theologian in its relation to Magisterium
5. Unambiguous Catholic identity in service of ecumenism
6. A commitment to sanctify and strengthen marriage and family
7. A commitment to follow the Holy Father in championing the role of women in the Church and society
[00122-02.02]  [Original text: English]
I am to speak on two very damaging epidemics - SIDA/Aids and Drugs. We need to talk at all times - urging people to be cautious - don’t take risks. Too may people all over America are dying from SIDA/Aids.
Second epidemic is drugs. Too many people are selling drugs and too many are buying and using. Too many penitenciaries, too many prisoners.
We need to work together, urging people to stop production and ask all not to use poison for body and soul.
These are two areas where we can work united.
[00125-02.02]  [Original text: English]
Faced with the familiar challenges of contemporary culture - especially relativism which is ignorant of the objective moral order and the tension between technological and ethical values - it is also important to look at the many positive values which the modern, and even the post-modern, movement has brought us. These values must still be established but they now represent a great hope and an enormous help for the new evangelization. In order to evangelize culture closer attention must be given to the ethical implications of technology to orient them towards man and his human dignity, while calling all Christians to their commitment to the faith to influence customs, so that Christian values are respected in society. A new language must be found to make it possible to give a clear and integral exposition to the entire mystery of Christ and His Gospel. The big challenge will be to bring about a new synthesis between faith and culture, with the new contributions of today without attempting to hark back to the forms of the past.
[00126-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
I would like to refer to the Instrumentum Laboris, Number 20, which discusses the evangelization of culture.
In effect, in this reference, the motivations which induce the Church to be present in the educational sector are indicated.
Certainly, this interest of our Mother Church for the educational sector has not come to flower just recently, in our day; rather it is remounted from the fruitful stage that followed those shining moments of the original evangelization: with missionary organization surges the educational stimulus that consolidates proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ and the unfolding on earth, in America of the maternal vision of our Church.
Already, we have heard this from the heart of many pastors here present in this Synod hall.
It hurts us to affirm that "there exists a species of ‘conspiracy against life and against the family’ in the societies of America" (Cf. Relatio Ante Disceptationem).
With sorrow, we attest that one verifies in our small cities (I speak in a particular manner for Central America) serious problems of poverty, disorder, narcotics trafficking, prostitution of children and youth, alcoholism; with true horror, the presence in our universities of the lay atheist, deficiency in the educational sector, above all illiteracy...
Even with all this, the presence of The Consoler permits us to nurture the certain hope which we also, on the threshold of the third millennium, are able to show forth, one more time, an America of Catholicity, and to construct thus in our time a civilization of love. For this, our privileged sector of action is education, particularly formal education.
It is imperative in our time to rediscover the Christian dimension of the Catholic school, the importance of the parochial school, of the college, of the Catholic university.
There are various communities of consecrated who, under the pretext of pastoral duties, leave the classrooms to dedicate themselves to parochial works. Is it the case that service to formal education is not pastoral and that we do not elevate the heart of the families in order to transform them into Christ?
For the evangelization of culture in the educational sector, also the coordination of pastoral education and the formation of capable, lay, professional teachers are particularly necessary and binding according to Christianity.
[00127-02.03]  [Original text: Castilian]
I am returning to the topic of solidarity to emphasize some of its aspects. In the first place, the
expectation of the people who are waiting for a new relationship between the Churches and countries of this continent. Our Churches must be the starting point for our testimony. The solidarity between the Churches of America received a major impulse from the appeal of John XXIII. Mons. Gervais described the influence of missionaries in the Church of Canada. As a mark of gratitude I wish to introduce a testimony: the Prison Pastoral in Brazil is coordinated by a Canadian priest and a U.S. priest. The example of the missionaries helps us to understand the importance of the option for the poor. They are the wealth of the Church and a challenge for our fidelity to the cause of Jesus. I am much in favor of creating an organization of the Churches of the whole continent with one outstanding objective: an exchange of missionaries. A testimony from my own diocese: its vitality is apparent in the abundance of lay ministries and in its missionary openness. I believe that the Church of America will be saved by its willingness to serve and by its missionary dimension. As far as the Foreign Debt is concerned, it should be urgently put on the agenda of political debate. We must take effective action to strengthen the trend. This Synod could sum up its propositions in a single proposal: to revive the great intuitions of Vatican Council II, updated with the proposals of Tertio Millennio adveniente, and symbolically expressed in the names of our Pope: John and Paul.
[00128-02.05]  [Original text: Portuguese]
The Amazon configures a multi-ethnic and pluri-cultural territory, in which the native peoples co-exist. "Inculturation" is an element of the New Evangelization which respects and promotes the values of cultures.
Our pastoral duty, is, in facing the natives of the Amazon:
- The recognition of these cultures in order to appreciate them in the light of the Gospel, of its
cosmic vision, which makes the global character of "God-Man-World," a single unity.
- The defense of rights in order to surmount every discrimination and the promotion of reconciliation and justice.
- The Earth holds a special meaning for the natives. It forms a substantial part of their culture; in this we try to support their just causes.
- Impoverishment and solidarity: the Gospel discovers in the suffering face of the poor, the face of the Lord (Ma.25: 31-46); the natives are accustomed to being poor: on account of humiliation, violence, et cetera.
- To help the natives in education, conforming to their way of life, thinking of their future inside of society.
- The Conference of the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro (1992) has put in relief the gravity of the ecological crisis which affects our Continent, and in a particular manner, the Amazon.
The Church wants to help the natives of the Amazon in the defense and promotion of their culture; the natives want to be respected as persons. The Church makes this legitimate aspiration her own, because all men and women have been created in the image and likeness of God.
[00129-02.04]  [Original text: Castilian]
The Church cannot evangelize unless it allows itself to be constantly evangelized (EN 15).The Church cannot pray for conversion unless the Church itself permanently seeks its conversion to Christ. The disciple is called upon to follow the Master. But even more, he is called upon to identify himself: "I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me" (Gal 2,20). Converting to Christ means following Him and imitating Him in His love for the poor. The option for the poor is a fundamental part of Christian life. In the Gospel, Jesus links his mission of "evangelizing the poor" to the proclamation of the Kingdom and "the year of grace", or Jubilee (Lk 4,18). Thus He fulfills the promise of the New Alliance and sends out His disciples "without bags or sandals", in an act of faith in the power of God and in His reception by the poor. Today disciples have a new context: new forms of poverty abound, inequalities are on the increase, interdependence among the Countries makes justice an international, "globalized" problem. Elucidating this problem of justice and the inequalities between North and South is one of the tasks before the Synod. It is not enough to confirm the existence of these situations. It is necessary to look for the causes if we want to fit our word and our witness to the present moment. Confronted with today’s situation our episcopal collegiality is called to find new expressions and instruments, seizing the exceptional opportunity of this Synodal Assembly which, for the very first time, unites all the churches of the Countries of America.
[00130-02.04]  [Original text: Portuguese]
The first purpose of this Synod is "to promote a new evangelization in all the Continent as the expression of episcopal communion" (Instrumentum Laboris, no. 1).
It treats of a Continent where the immense majority of the faithful request baptism for their children. From the most dedicated in the life of the church, to the lukewarm and perhaps indifference, to the smallest and humblest; from the fields, in the towns and in the big cities, everyone is disposed to live - if the church gives them the opportunity - an excellent evangelizing adventure. The new evangelization demands of us that we value and respect the desires of all those who solicit it for their children, also for those who find themselves in special situations. In this way, we favor the personal, fundamental encounter with the living Christ so that we are able to open to each man and woman in our lands the way to conversion, communion and solidarity.
The pastoral work of baptism is, for us, one of the most important of ecclesial actions, the task directly linked with the new evangelization. It is the whole Church who must immerse herself in giving to those who present themselves, requesting baptism for their children, a welcome and a cordial invitation, generous and festive in order to prepare themselves and to participate actively in the sacrament through the Word and gestures.
[00131-02.03]  [Original text: Castilian]
I praise and bless God for the grace of belonging to the Church which today feels called to renew its faith in Jesus Christ and its conversion to him. The Word of God, and the challenges which appear in the real world, demand a believing community having a stronger faith and a life in consequence with the beatitudes and the works of mercy of the Gospel.
The new evangelization can be undertaken with abundant fruit, from a fundamental experience: faith in the Son of God made man, announced and lived, in a manner which promotes and nurtures human dignity, today so wounded and menaced on the continent.
I propose, in view of this, that the Synod: (1) concentrate its attention in preparing some fundamental orientations, capable of stimulating the growth of a committed Christian faith, that stimulates in turn the respect and the promotion of human dignity; (2) and, above all, that espouses some meaningful GESTURES, that announce, in a clear and valiant manner, that the Lord lives and has come so that we might have life in abundance.
[00132-02.02]  [Original text: Castilian]
1. The topic of this Special Assembly of the Synod, as proposed by the Holy Father and proclaimed in view of the Lineamenta, is an authentic program of reflection and action. This Synod intends to help all the organizations of America (North, Central, South, and the Caribbean) to trace a path for conversion, communion and solidarity through an inter-personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus Christ, who, seated at the right of the Father, lives and is present in the Church.
2. In his homily during the inaugural Mass of the Synod, the Holy Father emphasized the unity of the Continent as a treasure to be safeguarded and promoted.
3. This unity, which gives life to solidarity, is far from being perfect: there are profound divisions between the North and the South, and very little alliance among the poorest and the least developed peoples.
4. It is not only important, but urgent, to create a solidarity founded on integration (absence of exclusion), interdependence and interaction of all the countries of the Continent. This presupposes and creates the real capacity for growing together, and not just at the cost of some benefiting from the stagnation of others.
5. It is neither the function nor the intention of the Synod to create new structures of solidarity on the Continent: it only intends to consolidate the communion of Churches on the Continent, thanks to the encounter with the living Jesus Christ. Thanks to this witness of profound communion in faith and love, the Synod will stimulate new and greater solidarity among the peoples of America.
6. I hope that, thanks to the moral authority and through its organizations, the Holy See could encourage public authorities to create and/or improve the valid instrumentation of concrete solidarity.
[00133-02.04]  [Original text: Portoguese]
This Ninth General Congregation concluded at 7:00pm, with the prayer "Angelus Domini". There were present 212 Fathers.
This is to inform accredited journalists that the Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops, "Synodus Episcoporum", published by the Press Office of the Holy See with the notices of the "Synod of Bishops, Special Assembly for America," is consultable in plurilingual, Italian, English, French, Castilian, and Portuguese editions, on the Internet address of the Holy See: http://www.vatican.va