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.
18 - 26.11.1997
This morning, Wednesday 26 November 1997, the work of the Small Groups of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops continued with the election of the Relators of the Small Groups and with the continuation of the discussion on the Synodal theme. There were 205 Fathers present in Session II.
Today at 5.05 p.m., in the Synod Hall, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the "Prayer for the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops" in English, the Fifteenth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops opened with the Second Auditio. The President Delegate on duty was H. Exc. Most Rev. Darío CASTRILLÓN HOYOS, Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
At the opening of the Fifteenth General Congregation, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops announced that the Commission for Information, as stated in the List of Participants, consisting of a President and two Vice-Presidents, had been completed with the appointment of 9 other Synodal Fathers, whose names were given.
There follows the complete composition of the Commission for Information :
The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops then announced the result, of the election of the Relators held this morning in Session II, of the Small Groups.
The list of Relators of the Small Groups follows:
The complete composition of the Small Groups will be published in Bulletin N. 19, tomorrow, Thursday, 27 November 1997.
The following Auditors spoke:
Herein we publish the summaries of the speeches by the following Auditors:
In recent years, the affluent nations seem to be washing their hands of the problems of poor people and poor countries. What attention they pay to the most marginalized is increasingly in the form of aggressive population control programs. Human beings are being treated as objects and sacrificed for material gain. In this situation, if Catholics, as members of a Church that transcends national boundaries, cannot be awakened to solidarity with their least advantaged brothers and sisters, it is hard to see from what other sources these trends can be countered.
In today’s harsh economic climate, it is often the Church and only the Church that lifts up the principles of the priority of human values over economic values, of persons over things, of the dignity of all forms of legitimate work, paid and unpaid, of the universal destination of goods, and of the responsibilities of those to whom much has been given.
It is true, as many have said, that the Church does not prescribe specific solutions to social problems. Rather she speaks to the human heart and conscience, educating people to take responsibility for themselves and others. Precisely for this reason, it is her lay faithful who must take up the difficult task of trying to find specific ways to implement their Church’s principles within the limits of their particular callings. Again, I stress, that if Catholic citizens cannot be motivated to use their energies and intelligence to transform a materialistic culture, it is hard to see from whence the impetus for a general change of heart will come.
My second observation concerns the working instrument’s mention of women as an area "requiring greater attention". Two years ago, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, on the eve of the Fourth World Conference on Women, committed all agencies of the Church to a "priority strategy directed to girls and young women, especially the poorest". He also said, "I appeal to all men in the Church to undergo, when necessary, a change of heart and to implement, as a demand of their faith, a positive vision of women. I ask them to become more and more aware of the disadvantages to which women, and especially girls, have been exposed and to see where the attitude of men, their lack of sensitivity or lack of responsibility, may be at the root".
As those inspiring commitments and statements are not as well known as they should be, I humbly ask the Synod fathers to consider lifting up the Holy Father’s words in such a way as to give encouragement to all who are trying to put them into practice - to the end that the Church in the Americas may enter the new millennium as a model of men and women, lay and religious, working together as partners in the mystery of redemption.
[00219-02.02] [UD11] [Original text: English]
It seems urgent to speak for the reclamation of the values of the priesthood. For nearly a generation much criticism, cynicism and skepticism has been outpoured against the Catholic priesthood. Together with the endless dispute about celibacy, these attacks have had an eroding effect not only on the priesthood but on the entire Church. In the past years, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, a new fire has been ignited. What has happened in the World Youth days has become an inspiring impulse not only for the youth called by the Holy Father but for all levels of apostolic work in the Church: Catechesis, Eucharistic Celebration, the Sacrament of reconciliation and the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament have been the benchmark of those days. Above all, the priesthood of Christ shared and communicated by the Bishops and priests has appeared in its uniqueness and in his wonderful interdependence with all the aspects of the Church. In this unity, the Catholic priesthood has manifested all of its fruitfulness. Being challenged also by the high expectation and the confidence put in them by the faithful, the priests are called to renew the faith in their consecration through Christ, in virtue of which they are not only "presiders" but acting "in persona Christi"; healing, sanctifying, guiding. Could the experience of the World Youth days become a model for the analogous realization on the diocesan level, which would bring together Bishops, priests and the faithful in catechesis, liturgical prayer, the sacrament of reconciliation, Eucharistic Adoration: some humble suggestions are presented in this regard.
[00235-02.02] [UD19] [Original text: English]
The current reference to human life tends to replace the "real" Christian meaning, which affirms at the same time gratitude of the donation and the "primacy of the spirit" (Maritain), for an ideology which, based in particular on Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, reduces the human existence to a materially productive and constructive operation, which, far beyond the consumption goals, aims at production and manipulation of life itself. Here this " practical" anthropocentrism has its source and energy in "the culture of death", which promotes abortion, euthanasia, genetic manipulation, family planning, birth control, divorce, sexual freedom and destruction of the family, - cell and cradle of society.
Nevertheless, it is the gift of God, who gave His own life to mankind (grace) for their salvation, where there is the source and norm of human, personal and social life. The energy of justice and solidarity, civic friendship and communion come from this. Without this gift there is no real social promotion and not even any real development. Dignity of the human person, respect and promotion of human rights have there their root and feeling in this.
Lastly, it is only from God, the Creator and Father, that we can today oppose a "culture of life" against a "culture of death". And this, from a perspective of an ideal (not an utopia) of the civilization of love and truth, whose agents must be the "secret agents of grace" (Raissa Maritain), such as the successors of the Apostles, the consecrated people or those have been baptized - all obligated by their role(without confusion), or vocation to bear witness and actively exhibit the truth of which Jesus himself bears witness by His life and His Word.
[00236-02.04] [UD20] [Original text: Castilian]
How can we proclaim Jesus Christ in the Catholic University?
By evangelizing man, that is to say, his culture, ethics, values, ideals of justice and truth, of love, happiness and peace.
1. For the Catholic University to evangelize is making the truth of God penetrate in the minds and hearts of young people and professors, devoting oneself with interdisciplinary effort in seeking truth in its totality: scientific, theoretical, practical, intuitive, of conscience, of the heart, religious and transcendent.
2. Human gain and profit in the scientific and technical fields have produced changes in conduct, values and views towards reality in young people. Likewise, a similar situation has occurred with international cultural currents, such as pluralism, secularism, moral subjectivism, and cultural globalization.
3. The responsibility of the Catholic University lies in their own young people which it educates. Does it educate them to place them in the current society, helping them to discover the meaning of their presence in it? Can the Catholic University answer its potentialities regarding investigation, reflection, in search of the truth and the meaning of the challenges of the 21st century?
4. The traditional "critical awareness" which has always represented the universal knowledge for society, is today a warning against the meaning which it can have for human life with regard to unilateral domination of technology, social organization, economy and culture.
1. This University needs a rational synthesis between adjusting to society and fidelity to its original mission.
2. With the ethical and Christian potential of the Catholic University, this can be done against challenges and change.
3. There are no pessimistic reasons which prevent any reason in understanding the reality.
[00237-02.04] [UD21] [Original text: Castilian]
My speech first of all regards three aspects related to the accumulated experience of the Church in Latin America and then the role of the lay movements in this new stage of ecclesial life.
First of all, as Latin Americans, we have a duty to be faithful to the rich history of our Church on the sub-continent. The great meetings of Latin American bishops this century, the starting up of the CELAM, the visits of the Holy Father to our countries, the faithful who have been canonized have all affected us deeply as a memory of the great Redemption, and have tried to give an answer to Latin American people and the concerns of our peoples. Abandoning this heritage would be of no advantage to the search for communion with the churches in the North, with other Christian confessions and dialogue with other religions. From the practical viewpoint this means giving priority to strengthening CELAM so that it will be able to face the challenges of these new times.
Manifestations of popular devotion, in the face of the use of the symbols of materialist consumer society, give expression to symbols connected with the more permanent, definitive aspect of man. Following the suggestions of the great pastoral figures, I would like to join those who urge the Synod to give new life to popular devotion, as well as to have concern for migrants and the choice of one or more symbols related to the Virgin Mary as the representation of the way to conversion, communion and solidarity that the Holy Father has indicated.
To go back to the goal of this Synod regarding justice and international relationships, I would like to express my agreement with those who urge our churches:
- to support initiatives attempting to reduce our countries’ foreign debt;
- to defend the dignity of workers and work when faced with various forms of semi-slave labor;
- to promote national dialogue to give incentives to governments to work for the common good.
Finally, we should recall the importance of lay movements as subjects and participants in the new evangelization as the new millennium approaches. If the basic goal of the Church is to bring men nearer to Christ and if modern culture is characterized by disbelief, banality and the proliferation of sects, the Holy Spirit will ensure that within the Church people appear who provide a significant way to enable many people to encounter the Lord, and who use in their missionary task a method and style of spirituality characterized by a personal, profound evangelization. Their followers may be present in different places to carry out different roles. Undoubtedly, the most important of these is the quality of the lay faithful they try to prepare,
They extend their work to different countries, take on the difficult challenges of modern society, they are the source of vocations for the consecrated life and for lay ministries, they promote works of solidarity for needy, works involving culture, ethical and political formation etc..
The bishops should encourage the presence of movements in their dioceses in the face of the challenges of these new times.
[00238-02.03] [UD22] [Original text: Castilian]
The theme of this Synod is fully in tune with the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae when in tells us that "the specific aim of catechesis is to ensure that people not only get in contact but also come into communion, into intimacy with the Person of Jesus Christ..." (CT 5).
N. 29 of the Instrumentum Laboris says: "In announcing the Good News, Jesus Christ makes an appeal for conversion, an invitation to live in communion with Him and His disciples. The fruit of living together with the Lord in charity is fraternal solidarity."
I am reminded of the persevering, enthusiastic, conscious and committed work of the over 500,000 catechists in Brazil. Most of them are lay men and women from different age groups and social conditions who give their time and work free of charge to announce Jesus’ Good News.
They sometimes work under difficult conditions, with a wide variety of social, political and cultural challenges; they are in the front line, sowing hope in many hearts, aware that "living out of hope means to sow properly in the present and while sowing to show the same joy as in the harvest" (Mother Maria Helena Cavalcanti).
The positive points of catechesis in Brazil, so richly inspired by the constant teaching of the Church’s Magisterium, generally reflect the process of Latin American catechesis. For example, I can cite the following:
1. A more Christ-centered catechesis;
2. More frequent use of the Bible, the prime book of catechesis;
3. Concern to combine faith with living;
4. Greater awareness of catechesis as an orderly, progressive action of faith;
5. The recovery of adult catechesis;
6. The flourishing of catechesis for the physically and mentally handicapped;
7. Catechesis for underprivileged groups;
8. An extensive production of aids and texts for catechesis, both on the central and the local level;
9. The compliance of catechesis with the intentions of the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente;
10. The development of an incultured catechesis full of celebrations;
11. The promotion of a community-based catechesis to educate people to the faith.
On the other hand, there are many challenges. Just over a month ago, during the last International Congress on Catechesis, the Church received the official edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Catechetical Directory, definite points of reference and now absolutely indispensable for catechesis. These documents show the person of Jesus Christ as the Absolute Center for Catechesis. This reference is closely related with the theme of this Synod.
I therefore propose that Jesus Christ be presented in the final document as the content and basic method of catechesis. As the content, Jesus Christ is the center and source of the history of salvation and theological reflection, and at the same time the authentic definition of His catechesis. From the method point of view, Jesus Christ is the sole Master of catechesis. In this respect, the experience of Jesus Christ and the Apostles is instructive.
This intervention could not be concluded without thanking His Holiness for organizing this Synod, as well as for all his teachings, exhortations and incentives towards the process of catechesis in America and the world. Thank you very much.
[00239-02.04] [UD23] [Original text: Portoguese]
Mission constitutes an important challenge for the Churches of our continent. The present globalization process many of the poor and the young are experiencing as a crisis of hope, has led to our rediscovering the urgency of Missions. At the end of the 1950s, the Churches of America all agreed to collaborate in their missionary activities, and this bore numerous fruits. Is not this Synod the proper occasion to go one step further and embark on a renewed project? As John Paul II wrote in his encyclical ‘Redemptor Missio", we find ourselves at the start of a new period for Mission. The following are some of the characteristics of this new period of Mission in America. At the moment we are experiencing a rediscovery of interior life and a bond between new missionary vocations and the importance given to the Word of God. Mission will not only be from North to South, it will move in the contrary direction. The strength of the Holy Spirit lies in the reciprocal relations between Churches. No Church, on its own, can hope to possess the solution to all its problems. There is now a large number of laymen among the new organizers of Missions. There is an important link between the first evangelization and the new evangelization. It is also important for Mission to be conducted among non-Christians. I hope that the next COMLA will be open to Churches of the North and that such an encounter will be able to unite the developing missionary experiences on our continent.
[00240-02.04] [UD24] [Original text: French]
The United States in the fourth largest Spanish-speaking country in the hemisphere. It includes citizens people from all the Latin American and Caribbean countries, plus millions more born in the United States.
For over fifty years the Church has had an intentional ministry among Hispanic Catholics. In the past twenty-five years, the Catholic bishops have convoked three national encuentros to help establish pastoral priorities and strategies. These national gatherings have evolved a structure for ministry and pastoral priorities that are being implemented by parishes, dioceses, pastoral institutes, and by Catholic organizations. The process used has also served to train Hispanic pastoral leaders in ministry. Though much has been done in ministry among Hispanics,, most Catholics in the United States are not aware of the richness of this pastoral experience, nor of the gift and relevance it is to the New Evangelization.
As the third millennium approaches, the Bishops of the United States have decided to call for a Fourth National Encuentro for Hispanic Ministry in 2000, as an integral part of the Great Jubilee. What will make this encuentro different, from the previous three of ‘72, ‘77 and ‘85, is that the process will be open to all the Church. It will be directed at Hispanics, but the consultation and dialogue will allow for people of different cultural backgrounds to share their experiences. Opportunity to participate will be at the parish and diocesan levels. A major national event will take place at the conclusion of the two-year process. This can be important process as the Church looks at making happen an Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ, the Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America.
[00241-02.02] [UD25] [Original text: English]
The Church must be open to the situation of Women and try to come to an understanding of the full significance of what is happening in the society around it. The Church cannot commit a sin of omission when confronted with the awakening of women. A woman is the natural ally of the Church in her battle against the "culture of death". There are alarming indications that have been mentioned in this Synod, but there are others which one half of humanity - the half composed of women - consider hopeful since they are prepared to deal with their chances of realizing themselves as people created by God with the same dignity and potential as men, their equals. In South America women suffer exclusion. The crisis caused by belt-tightening, economic globalization and post-modern culture has produced other urgencies, among them: abortion as a social problem of serious dimensions, poverty among women, the increase in households run by women, conditions extremely precarious for the development of life, violence and the effects of these phenomena on the family, and on children and adolescents. Without a pastoral plan rooted in the daily life of the woman, one that account of her hopes and concrete problems, it will become more and more difficult for the local churches to accompany women along this first stage of self realization, when thousands are excluded by the sub-human conditions of survival to which they have been submitted. The Fourth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, which met in Santo Domingo in 1992,went on to examine these problems and admitted that there was a lack of " more concrete steps toward real equality" and made the discovery that both men and women develop reciprocally. Regrettably very little progress has been made since then.
[00242-02.04] [UD26] [Original text: Castilian]
N. 37 of the "Instrumentum laboris" deals with consecrated life: an active, growing participation of the consecrated in the life of the local churches, bearing witness to communion and service (John Paul II, Exhort. .Apost. post-synodal Via Consecrata). I would like to talk about Secular Institutes in the Central, South and Caribbean regions of America, and their task in life, in this encounter with the living Jesus Christ, Who encourages and enlightens us, to follow Him on His way. Living as we do in the "secular" world we are aware of its realities in harmony with the will of the Church, shaping and sanctifying it "as by fermentation from within". We, the Secular Institutes, are alive to the degree that we participate in the history of man, and bear witness before the men of today, of the fatherly love of God revealed by Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit (Evangelii Nuntianti). This year when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "Provida Mater Ecclesia", we renew our commitment and reinforce it with this Synod which moves us to establish the Kingdom of Christ in fraternity, justice and love. Mary lived in the world, fully part of the history of her people, sharing their hopes and their expectations, living in poverty and longing for liberation. We ask her, as our Mother, to help us to show the way that leads to Jesus, through the witness of our life.
[00243-02.05] [UD27] [Original text: Castilian]
1. If we wish to find sufficient solidarity in episcopal communion for the promotion of a new evangelization that will enlighten the problems of justice and international economic relations, then we need to start out with an outlook on America that is free from generalizations and abstractions. Understanding the various realities - beginning mainly with an understanding of history - is how authentic reciprocal recognition will be reached between the Churches of the North and those of Latin America, and how the way can be prepared for ecclesiastical communion and realistic solidarity. 2. The Synod cannot afford to ignore the current dynamism which is now seriously upsetting relations between North and South on our continent. Mercosur is launching a gigantic operation for a common market and the implements of production and cultivation in common. It is the first pole of regional power since Independence and from the moment of its creation it will have the support of the European Union, which regards it as a strategic and political ally. Mercosur catalyzes and reinforces the other regional centers of power in Latin America, and acts as an intermediary in relations between the U.S. and the other blocs. 3. The Church must become part of this experience through its evangelizers and its symbols, filling the spaces with renewed ecclesiastical tissue to vitalize and sustain the social tissue needed to generate solidarity initiatives. The Church should recall the richness of its historical background provided by the experience of the early reductions of the Jesuits in Paraguay and their saints, or men who made history like St. Roque Gonzales de la Cruz. In the light of this new situation, where the countries prefer specifically Latin American tools, it does not appear to be the right moment for the Church to create Panamerican structures. On the other hand it should rethink the Celem, in order to respond evangelically to the new situations now emerging and go on from there to reinforce a permanent dialogue with bishops’ conferences in the U.S. and Canada.
[00248-02.04] [UD28] [Original text: Castilian]
Through the impulse of Vatican II, we, the Delegates of the Word of God, originated in Choluteca (Honduras) and were reinforced by Medellin, Puebla, the visit of the Holy Father John Paul II to Honduras in 1983, and then in Santo Domingo. Today we are more than 13,000 Delegates in all the country and this experience has been well received in other Latin American countries and beyond. Who are we? Who are the Delegates?
- Laymen, bachelors or married men with families to support and for whom we must work materially for our daily sustenance;
- Poor farm workers and more recently people from the city;
- Many indigenous delegates;
- Men called and sent by the bishop to proclaim the Word of God:
1. We have basic, continuous training;
2. We celebrate on Sunday and organize meetings among communities..
- The Word of God is part of our daily living.
- The Church grows in unity, rejects the macho attitude, further promotes women, increases vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
- We are the protagonists of our own history.
With apostolic zeal and our collaboration, we will enable the sharing of the Bread, the Word, communion, solidarity, reconciliation and love, and the sharing of the Eucharist.
I am sure that the Delegates of the Word of God will continue their promotion work..
[00249-02.04] [UD29] [Original text: Castilian]
In order to achieve identity, we have to dialogue with others, and this dialogue assumes that some identity already exists. People try to focus on diversity and universality in order to achieve unity and communion and to throw light on the problems of the great differences between North and South.
This requires a historical outlook on the real processes in these countries, in order to properly understand the differences, and starting from these, to work for unity, especially in the face of the internationalization of the economy, the growing job shortage and the difference between the free trade area (NAFTA) and the MERCOSUR community of nations. This brings us back to the meaning of universality and the ethnic and cultural service of the Church.
In the face of a functionally-oriented, virtual culture, with increasingly powerful means - though little concerned with humanitarian activity - developing without the significant influence of faith, the challenge is not only to denounce evils, but over all to give a positive orientation to the history of freedom. This requires new anthropological developments rooted in a solid ontology starting from the Revelation.
With regard to the lay faithful, together with the benefits of inter-ecclesial service, there is also a loss of influence in today’s centers of power, especially in culture and politics. With regard to the latter, the phenomenon of power has to be taken seriously and not just from a moralistic point of view.
Thought will show that the response to today’s, social, cultural and religious challenges must not be based on ‘separation’ from faith, but rather on the incarnation as significantly divine and human, in order to respect and foster the properly independent role of all that is human.
Last of all there should be meetings of the bishops, the people in charge of the churches and experts in many frontier areas, and meetings between Latin America, North America and Europe. The study of Vatican II should be updated and implemented, and this also applies to the more recent framework of the social teaching of the Church.
[00257-02.04] [UD30] [Original text: Castilian]
The catechist must be able to adapt to a variety of situations in order to proclaim God’s Kingdom. Jesus directs those who do so to "enter a house, and stay there until you leave". (Mark 6,7-13) Catechists will be able to do this if they have a profound faith, a sound formation, and the ability to adapt. Catechists must be formed by the word of God, transformed by the Holy Spirit, and informed by the teachings of the Church and good catechetical skills. Because catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life (Catechese Tradende, #13), people are catechised by strong and vibrant Catholic communities, as well as through catechetical programmes and classes.
In 1963, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) established a national catechetical philosophy that has given direction to the work of Canadian catechists. For 31 years, the CCCB has publishd national catechetical programmes based on that philosophy.
[00251-02.02] [UD31] [Original text: English]
The relationship between the Christian churches and the Aboriginal Peoples of the Americas has been marred by many things. In simple language, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, despite the grace it brought, was not given to the First Nations Peoples of the Americas in all its purity. Linked as it was to an unconscious European imperialism, the end result was that, by contact with the church and with the Christian culture, the Aboriginal Peoples suffered many losses in terms of their languages, their culture and family lives, and their own spiritual traditions. This relationship needs to be radically re-assessed. The new millennium provides us with an opportunity to reconcile historical hurts and begin a new journey. This journey of partnership is one which must be charted on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be marked by mutual education, open dialogue, and a mutual solidarity for justice. It must also take some religious risk, especially in terms of marrying native spirituality with Christianity and in terms of church organization and rites-dialogue about the place of Elders, the ordination of Elders, and the place of Native ceremonies and rites within the church.
[00252-02020] [UD32] [Original text: English]
Number 37 in Instrumentum Laboris mentions consecrated life and underlines the growing role of women in response to increasing pastoral needs in the life of the Church.
The first evangelization in Canada was achieved by these women: Sts. Marguerite Bourgeois, Marguerite d’Youville, Marie de l’Incarnation, and many others. These women have founded religious congregations which pursue their work of evangelization.
The Canadian Religious Conference, which gathers the most important superiors, men and women, of religious congregations, in spite of the fact that their members are getting old and they are having few replacements, intends undertaking the new evangelization with hope, dynamism and solidarity.
"The statement of its mission" clarifies its choices, decisions and wants an answer for today from our history.
This statement promises:
- cooperation among its members
- partnership with its lay faithful
- the welcome and respect of differences and diversities
- a priority option for the impoverished, the suppressed, all those who society ignores and refuses.
The conference fosters meeting places, places for communion and solidarity among its members, as well as with religious men and women of the American Continent. It holds a national Assembly every two years and participates every five years in organizing an inter-American Assembly. This Conference wants to be an instrument for communion and solidarity in Canada as well as with the brothers and sisters of the People of God, thus accomplishing its mission of evangelization and solidarity in the Living Christ.
[00253-02.04] [UD33] [Original text: French]
Other Auditors will intervene in the Seventeenth General Congregation, tomorrow afternoon, Thursday 27 November 1997.
The Fifteenth General Congregation concluded at 7.00 p.m. with the prayer "Angelus Domini". There were 212 Fathers present.