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.
22 - 02.12.1997
The works of the Small Groups continued Friday, 28 November (PM), Saturday 29 November (AM) and Monday, 1 December 1997 (AM and PM). There were present 199 Fathers in Session IV, 203 in Session V, 205 in Session VI and 191 in Session VII.
The first phase of the works of the Small Groups concluded with the approval of the Relations of the individual groups, which the Relators presented in the Hall, during the Nineteenth and Twentieth General Congregations of today.
The summaries of the Relations of the Small Groups will be published in Bulletins No. 22 and No. 23.
Herewith we publish the interventions not pronounced in the Hall, but consigned only in writing, by:
Herewith we publish the summary of the intervention, not pronounced in the Hall, but consigned in writing by Synodal Father:
The powerful of this world combine knowledge, capital, and any resources available in a self-centered and individualistic struggle for power. Through integration they search for greater markets for their products. On a global level this phenomenon leads to the creation of international blocs. Today this economic process of the free market is called "globalization". Extending beyond national borders, large markets emerge, such as Caricom, Mercosur and Nafta.
Advocates praise globalization as ideal: everyone can enter the market freely, everybody has a fair chance and equal rights, free competition encourages production and quality, prices are kept low and the standard of living is improved.
We recognize that the merits of the process of globalization for the economic, social and cultural growth of the world communities and also for the world wide mission of the Church.
However, a closer examination reveals that the freedom of this market does not apply to everyone. It primarily benefits the owners of land, capital and services, and especially those who manage scientific and technological knowledge.
Within the freedom of the market, many of these people do not act in a responsible manner. Consequently, people are excluded and even destroyed. In the Caribbean, for example, both small business and countries are suffering and production initiatives are undermined. Therefore economic globalization as far as it is affected by selfishness and sin causes globalization of poverty.
The Church’s understanding of her mission led to the writing of the social encyclical letters, beginning with Rerum Novarum (1891) and encyclicals published almost every ten years until Centesimus Annus (1991). These encyclicals exposed the systems, structures and practices which cause poverty, while a behavior characterized by a "culture of Labor"
(Leo XIII), a "civilization of love" (Paul VI) and a "preferential option for the poor"
(Santo Domingo) was being portrayed.
We bishops, standing beside the poor, shall support and encourage in our societies those initiatives and practices, which breathe the spirit of the above-mentioned social encyclicals.
Above all we shall indeed assist the poor in their efforts to defend themselves in the struggle
for survival! Especially when they sought the so-called "community economy". Supporting these initiatives will allow us to be evangelized by the poor. Through their "economy of sharing", they will show us the way of conversion and communion, solidarity and love, leading to a just and free society.
[00271-02.04] [IS-05] [Original text: English]
Herewith we publish the summaries of the interventions not pronounced in the Hall, but consigned in writing, by the following Auditors:
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I shall give you rest"
During these days we have been listening to many references to death, notes that strike a discord with God’s plan offering freedom and happiness to all men and women. We suffer hearing these facts because we have always before us the ‘concrete’ faces of our friends, our neighbors and our own families who live ‘weary and burdened’ lives...And these are our brethren whom we accompany through life. I ask: What can this assembly do? What can it tell them? It occurs to me to link the answer to the question the Holy Father put to me a few days ago, when I had the good fortune to have dinner with him, " How should the Pope behave
in Cuba?" - he asked me when he found out I was Cuban. My answer was, " Just be as you are. The Pope, who always speaks the truth wherever he is". And this is the topic chosen by the Church of Cuba to prepare for the forthcoming visit of the Holy Father:. " John Paul II, messenger of TRUTH and HOPE." I believe that, in order to relieve the burdens and weariness of our peoples, we must be messengers of the TRUTH, wherever we are, without making alliances, and without submitting when we come face to face with those who make our brethren so wearied and burdened. In a world living day after day in more and more lies, we must be bearers of the TRUTH, the TRUTH, that sets us free. In this way we should be able to make the Gospel message believable. As witnesses of the TRUTH we shall also be signposts of HOPE for our brethren; HOPE that becomes God’s welcome, compassion and love for our world.
[00267-02.003] [IS02] [Original text: Castilian]
One of the most striking developments in Catholic life during the last several decades has been the emergence of what are commonly called lay ministries. In parishes and other settings today, lay people do readings at Mass, distribute Holy Communion and perform other "ministerial " role.
At the same time, unfortunately, less seems to be heard now than once was the case about lay apostolate. I believe that is a mistake.
It is significant that the Second Vatican Council designated its document on lay people the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. According to the Council, the activity of Catholic lay people in the secular world as a kind of Christian leaven is their proper and preeminent role - their special vocation - in the mission of the Church (Lumen Gentium, 31; Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2; Cf. Chrsitifideles Laici, 15).
In this context, the Knights of Columbus welcomes the new Instruction: On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Nonordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests, which bears the signatures of the heads of eight dicasteries of the Holy See. The clarifications and distinctions reaffirmed in this document are crucially important for two reasons: to emphasize the uniqueness and indispensability of the ordained ministry of priests; and to preserve the integrity of the secular character and vocation of the Catholic laity by forestalling their unintended clericalization. Far from discouraging the involvement of lay people in ministry and apostolate, the Instruction supplies a necessary framework.
In particular, the Knights of Columbus welcomes this document’s situating of "apostolic action on the part of the lay faithful" at the heart of the Church’s evangelizing work (Instruction: On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Nonordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests, 1). The many thousands of Knights actively involved in apostolate and ministry today throughout the Western Hemisphere and other parts of the world are deeply grateful for this reaffirmation by the Church.
[00270-02.03] [IS-06] [Original text: English]
The Nineteenth General Congregation commenced at 9:10am today, in the Synod Hall, with the chant of the Third Hour, in the presence of the Holy Father, for the presentation of the Relations on the work accomplished in the Small Groups of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, President Delegate on duty: H. Em.Cardinal Roger Michael MAHONY, Archbishop of Los Angeles.
During the opening of this Nineteenth General Congregation, the Synod of Bishops, Special Assembly for America approved the following Message of the Delegate Presidents:
The Bishops of America, reunited in the Synodal Assembly, in communion with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, have been informed of the kidnapping of Monsignor Jose Quintero Diaz, Bishop of the Prelature of Tibu in Colombia.
This painful act is added to the other many violations of Human Rights which make fraternal and peaceful mutual relations difficult on our Continent.
Inspired by the Synodal theme, which makes a special reference to the living Jesus Christ, the way for conversion, we ask for the respect of the dignity and integrity of all individuals, and the carrying out of the prompt liberation of all those kidnapped.
We hope that through an open and sincere dialogue, and trusting in the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of America, that the foundations to achieve that so longed for peace may be established.
H. Em. Card. Eugenio DE ARAUJO SALES,
Archbishop of Sao Sebastio do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
[00280-02.05]  [Original text: Castilian]
Afterwards, H. Em. Cardinal Jan P. SCHOTTE, C.I.C.M., Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, gave the following communications, in Castilian:
First Communication of the Secretary General
"During this Synod, which is meditating on the life of the Church in the whole American Continent, it is worth also paying attention to some special initiatives of certain local Churches.
Among these, it is worthwhile highlighting the initiative of the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador, which recently published the Bible translated into the Quechua language, in an excellent bilingual Spanish - Quechua edition.
The President of the Episcopal Conference, H. Exc. the Most Rev. José Mario RUIZ NAVAS, is pleased to generously offer a copy of this publication to all the Fathers of the Synod, who will find it their mail boxes in the entrance.
This work has been going on for over 20 years and its aim is to foster unity among peoples, who have in common the basic structure of the Quechua language, and above all to put the message of Jesus Christ in writing in the hands and hearts of the indigenous, thus contributing to the promotion of the indigenous dignity and culture.
We express our feelings of admiration and fraternal communion at the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador, and sincerely thank H. Exc. the Most Rev. RUÍZ NAVAS for the valuable gift of the Quechua translation of the Holy Scriptures".
Second Communication of the Secretary General
"As on the occasion of other Synodal Assemblies, also during the Special Synod for America a post Synodal Council has been planned to deal with the subsequent phases of the Synod.
This Council will be elected during this Synodal Assembly and the rules for the election have been put together in a text which is now being distributed.
As specified in our calendar, voting will take place on Saturday, 6th December, during the Twenty-second General Congregation.
The ballots for voting will be given next Friday afternoon, during the Twenty-first General Congregation.
After the Special Assemblies for Africa and Lebanon the Holy Father visited these places. Likewise during the Synodal Assembly for America the Supreme Pontiff will take into consideration the opportunity to celebrate and conclude the Synod with a publication of a synodal apostolic exhortation.
To know the opinion of the Synodal Fathers with regard to this point there will be consultation on the different possibilities".
Later, were presented the Relations of the following Small Groups:- H. Exc. Most. Rev. Mario del Valle MORONTA RODRÍGUEZ, Bishop of Los Teques - Relator
Herewith we publish the summaries of the Relations, prepared by the Relators and by the Adjunct Relators, and presented in the Nineteenth General Congregation.of this morning:
I. INTRODUCTION: TOPIC AND GUIDELINES
The topic of the Synod "Encounter with the living Jesus Christ: the way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America", allows us to participate in the commitment and challenges of the New Evangelization. This evangelizing action is by no means neutral. It aims to make the announcement of the message and person of the living Christ a reality with its continuing response and faithfulness that leads to holiness. This way, with its effects, and fruit of an encounter with Christ, is seen from a very concrete place: the whole of
The guidelines are the actual topic of the Synod and that is where the various contributions, enlightenments and solutions must looked for.
Mission and Evangelization are intimately united. The action of the Holy Spirit must be given full importance, as it was not explicitly developed in the Relatio Post Disceptationem (R.P.D.).
Finally three indications in this introductory part: a) We are required to speak of the Church, not in terms of Latin America and the North, but for the whole of America. b) The new Evangelization is an opportunity to continue to apply the teachings of Vatican Council II. c) For the post-Synodal document we should bear in mind the Gospel story of the meeting between Jesus and the woman of Samaria: an evangelical encounter, conversion and witness.
II THE ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST
1. The Proclaiming of Jesus Christ: Fundamental action of the Church. The New Evangelization can only be realized by a church whose life, action and message are all centered on Jesus Christ. (We should take into account the way the Instrumentum laboris spoke on this, at the time of formulating propositions and editing the post-Synodal document).
It also seems clear that the complete truth about Jesus Christ should be announced. But we would do well to remember what Evangelii Nuntiandi means when it asks to proclaim the name of Jesus and His life, His acts and His message, His kingdom, His death and resurrection.
The proclaiming of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead should be presented. The Lord dies for our salvation, and the risen Christ overcomes death which is the fruit of sin, which today continues acting in various expressions of the culture of death. With His resurrection, Jesus Christ achieves the New Creation and renewal of humanity. The figure of the Risen Christ allows us to see the dynamism of the authentic progress of the world.
This proclaimimg must be festive, attractive, convincing and above all aimed towards young people. It should be accompanied by the personal witness of the evangelizer, enlightened by the Most Holy Virgin, the Apostles and saints of America. Also use of the Word of God must be emphasized.
In this case it is a well to consider that Vatican II has given us indications on the ways in which Christ is present in the Church. It should be remembered that this is the announcement of Christ Who, once having risen, is alive and present in many different ways: 1). In the Liturgy and especially in the Eucharist; 2) In His Word, which is living; 3) In the community; 4) In one’s neighbor, above all the poor who also identified as the sacrament of Christ (Paul VI).
This is how the encounter with Christ can be promoted and realized for the faith and turn also into a commitment.
2. The Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: What the Gospel announcement wants is an answer from those who hear it and bind themselves personally to Christ when they encounter Him. The Christ, announced at Easter, with His Death and Resurrection, is what brings about the encounter with man and the invitation to arise with Him.
The real facts must be borne in mind, in order to allow people to enter into dialogue and bring about the encounter. A more intense proclamation of the Word of God, popular religiousity, and other manifestations, well handled and oriented, will allow people to experience the truth in an encounter with Christ, above all because it is what satisfies the hunger for God among our peoples.
Conversion is one of the consequences of the encounter with the living Jesus Christ. It is continuous , growing and permanent. Do not forget to speak of the value of baptismal grace. It is a personal act, for it is the person who is converted, as a subject, living an ongoing, dynamic process.
In conversion the personal attitude has to be borne in mind when facing a change in structures preventing authentic progress and growth in man. It is a good idea, when speaking of this conversion among groups, that clear reference is made to certain situations which go against man and the community: especially traffic in narcotics and corruption; evils already epidemics in our society.
1. Church - Communion: The theological foundation of the Church - Communion is based on the dimension of the Trinity. It is the ecclesiological basis. We would do well to remember the fine summaries which were made on the ecclesiology of communion in: Christifideles Laici; Chapter V of Puebla which in mentioning the options of the Spirit speaks of Church-Communion; Church-Service and Church-Mission; Catechism of the Catholic Church (First part).
2. The Church as Body of Christ: We recall the allegory of the vine and its branches and St. Paul’s image of the Body whose head is Christ. The same divine life flows in all bodies thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit: this happens in the Church when it is lived as a community, in its various expressions (Family - Parish - Diocese) and in the diversity of members and charisma.
3. Dimensions of Ecclesiastical Communion: The topic of the parish, is linked to urban pastoral activities and this has not been sufficiently touched on. On this subject we might ask how to reach people to propose the evangelic message and the encounter with the living Christ. Strengthening the parish would need an instistence on a pastoral action of contact, a more personalized evangelization favoring relationship of Master and disciple. Means of Social Communication and other instruments should play an active role, without forgetting the Church’s missionary dimension.
In relation to the parish it is suggested that the importance of small communities not be overlooked, the basic church communities, so that the parish may also be considered as a community of communities.
Another dimension of communion is the family, the domestic Church and a social cell. The absence of ethical values in respect to the new legislation on life (abortion, euthanasia laws etc .) and to procreation should also be noted.
As far as members of the Church are concerned, there has been little talk about bishops. About priests there is need for a more hopeful reference than the one that has appeared in the R.D.P., and priests must be mentioned in relation to bishops, consecrated life and the laity. A mention would be welcome in the post-Synodal document on the profile of pastors who seek to form seminaries.
As for organizations favoring communion, the following has been said:
a) Episcopal Conferences, indispensable organizations for communion in a nation.
b) The importance of CELAM, as an organization serving the community. It was not thought necessary to create another organization for the relations between the Churches of North and South. CELAM itself could be a point of encounter for the whole Church of America opening up an ad hoc secretariat. It is suggested that interchange meetings continue; up to now, for example, the following have taken place: commissions of the various episcopal conferences, experts in various fields and training courses.
c) It is a good idea to recognize the many institutions of the Church of America and Europe, which have given so much aid.
4. Some challenges: From the point of view of Communion the relations between the Churches of the North, the South and the Caribbean must be firmly faced Concrete indications are required and this includes the social level, but also the missionary and evangelizing levels. The Church in the South must cooperate in missions with the north; however, among other things the Church in the North will also have to appear as a mediator between Governments and Financial Institutions and our peoples in the South on matters concerning the Foreign Debt. Communications and development must be strengthened in an appropriate way as well as North-South interchanges. It is well worth giving some attention to the cultural, labor and religious contribution of many immigrants from Central and South America to the countries of North America. There is also a clear indication of the urgency of opening up to other continents, especially Africa, and countries in need.
5. Some topics to discuss:
In the field of Communion some topics are mentioned that are likely to be discussed in the post-Synodal exhortation: a) Bishop-Priest relations, with a hopeful and challenging mention concerning diocesan priests. b) Consecrated Life and its situation in the local Church. c) Seminaries and pastoral vocation. d) Catholic Education (Catholic Schools and Universities) and preparation of adult laity in the Faith and in the principal ethics arising from it, preserving fidelity to the Church. e) Youth and children. f) The importance of the Means of Social Communication as instruments of Communion. g) Potential experiences of fraternal cooperation between the Churches; and in a brotherly way among the dioceses (encounter among he churches in a spirit of solidarity). h) Promotion of the laity and the importance of lay movements. i) Ecumenism and the Sects (possibilities of dialogue with the new religious movements).
1. The starting point.
When the Church talks of solidarity it does so from point of view of its evangelizing mission. As a consequence, the announcement of Jesus Christ involves a concern for all mankind and his promotion. In dealing with this matter one should take into account the contents of the Instrumentum laboris.
2. Confronting globalization. We find ourselves before a phenomenon which has elements that are both positive and negative, and the latter make a great impact. We have to act decisively against them. This is why we must face globalization to evangelize it. The problem is that advantage is now being taken of globalization to widen the present breaches, not only between North and South, but also in the interior of every country, and this is likely to result in serious conflicts in the future unless there comes a change in the situation. What is asked for is an ethical-critical evaluation of neo-liberalism.
3. The International Debt
This a harsh reality that has struck our countries. To face up to this problem we need prudence and serenity, but we must act with decision. It is not only an economic problem, but also ethical. It is one of the causes of why American society is being torn apart. What we ask in our appeal for solidarity is an erasing or a reduction. Speaking of responsibilities we should mention those who have contracted the debt and squandered very often the funds received. We must also speak of bankers and financial companies who ought to have checked up on their borrowers’ capacity to repay.
The Synod should make a proposal concerning the foreign debt, together with an appeal to natural rights and the right to life. It should focus on the problem of interests and the consequences of the traffic in arms. What we are really aiming at is a new world economic order: one that is just, fraternal and based on solidarity.
There are a number of challenges which must be assumed and which could result in symbols:
a) The proposal that bishops make more use of our prophetic faculties b) The Catholics who are in the Governments and the International Financial Institutions should be asked if first and foremost their fidelity is not towards the Gospel, its principles and the Social Doctrine of the church. c) The entrepreneurs and people involved in the economic world should be asked to help create an economy of solidarity.
5.Some other topics to discuss
1. Dialogue with culture and post-modernity. 2. The Church which inculturates but which also creates culture; confronting the culture of death, the Church offers the culture of life and love. 3. The Means of Social Communication: 3.1. The possibility of publishing an information journal for all Churches of America, 3.2 Promoting the Computer network, 4. "Trialogue" between Jews-Moslems-Catholics in America. 5. Ecology of human life, health environment problems. 6. Cultures of Afro-Americans and native races. 7. Violence and the traffic in arms. 8. Migrations. 9. Preparing a Catechism of Social Doctrine of the Church. 10. Man and woman: their complementary relation, participation and roles in the life of the Church and society.
[00272-02.00] [CM01] [Original text: Castilian]
To begin, the group highlighted the following as criteria for the selection of themes: those which correspond to the objectives of the Synod, and those which are of pastoral urgency for the Church of all of America.
Highlighted as the central expectations needing attention by the Synod were: renewal in Christ, a new evangelization effort, greater ecclesial communion, missionary openness, and a new relationship among the Bishops.
In order to respond to these expectations, the group presented some suggestions, united around New Evangelization, Communion and Solidarity.
I. NEW EVANGELIZATION
1. Encounter with the Living Christ
New Evangelization is founded on the renewed encounter with Christ, that brings forth a new spirituality forming the basis of Christian life and mission. In this way, the Church of America will take on a more merciful and samaritan character.
2. Missionary Dimension
The Church of America today feels a strong missionary calling as a gift of the Spirit. This missionary openness will renew the Church in America.
They are fundamental for the evangelization process. The Synod expresses support for all of them. Their formation must be made in accord with the instructions of "Pastores Dabo Vobis." It is necessary that the Church rethink her priorities so that priests can assume their mission adequately.
4. Active Role of the Laity and New Ministries
The active role of the laity is a sign of the times in the Church in America, and the Synod must signify a strong impulse for the exercise of lay ministries.
5. Ecclesial Movements
It is important to recognize their evangelizing dynamism, when well integrated in the local church. Regarding this, follow the recommendations of "Christifideles Laici."
6. Ecumenism and Pastoral Response regarding Sects
The Church in America expresses her support of the ecumenical effort and inter-religious dialogue, urged by the Spirit. Faced with Sects, the Church feels challenged to be more missionary, kerygmatic, communitarian and evangelizing, nurturing herself more with the Word of God and opening herself to new ministries.
7. Episcopal Communion
It is a necessity that Episcopal communion be fortified by this Synod, which must find ways to continue in this spirit. Episcopal Conferences must be re-evaluated, and they are the point of departure for an Episcopal clarity which necessitates evaluating the existent structures, and revising and creatively using these clarified mechanisms.
8. The Parish, Renewed and Evangelizing
The parish needs to find a new form, in the urban context, all in view of its mission of evangelization. Becoming comunitary in its organizations, it becomes open to new ministries and ecclesial movements.
9. The Family
This is a priority for the Church; the family is the object and the subject of evangelization. In "Familiares Consortio" it finds the recognition of its importance and the orientations for its reality and mission.
10. Globalization and Poverty
It is necessary for the Church to have a presence which illumines and accompanies the process of globalization, putting Herself especially at the side of those who suffer the negative consequences of the current economic process. It is necessary that the Synod confront this complex question of Foreign Debt, the question of drugs and the environment .
11. The Means of Social Communications
Its importance makes it necessary tha it be absorbed more conscientiously by the Church, and we hope that the Synod stimulates a continental collaboration for the improved use of the means of Social Communications in the Church.
Education is a fundamental road for evangelization and the church needs to find again a way to cooperate, formally an d informally, in the education process.
[00273-02.07] [CM02] [Original text: Portoguese]
The English language small group A offers the following observations in the hope that they contribute to the overall work of this pastoral gathering. We have gathered our thoughs around the following themes:
1. Faith as the heart of our encounter with Christ and its ecclesial dimensions;
2. The importance of catechesis in the new evangelization within our hemisphere;
3. The significance of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue in the circumstances of America;
4. Some observations on:
A. The Church and cultures
B. Globalization and its pastoral implications.
AT THE HEART OF OUR ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST IS FAITH.
In the faith that encounters Christ, we embrace him in a way that recognizes and welcomes him with a loving heart, an open mind and a docile will. This response to the living Christ calls us to a lifelong effort to draw ever closer to Him and experience more fully his presence in a way that completely transforms our life and action.
So profound is the transformation in faith that Jesus no longer calls us servants but friends—adopted brothers and sisters who can now call His Father our Father. It is this faith to which we are called and in which we find our conversion, communion and solidarity.
The pastoral challenge we face across our hemisphere is the sharing of our faith in a way that captures the interest and attention of this generation, living as we do in an increasingly secular and materialistic world.
We across America both recognize and encourage the increasing involvement of the laity in the mission of the Church and also express our deep appreciation. The task of proclaiming and spreading the faith is not always easy. Living in an age of aggressive secularism, we may be tempted at times to view it as an impossible task. The Lord, however, never promised it would be easy.
CATECHETICS: DEEPENING THE ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST
The Church exists in order to evangelize, that is the carrying forth of the Good News to every sector of the human race so that the strength of the Holy Spirit may enter into and renew the hearts of all people. Today we place renewed emphasis on the catechetical effort as a part of the continuing process of evangelization. Renewed catechesis and new apologetics characterize the new evangelization.
Catechesis refers to the totality of the effort of the Church to make disciples, to help people believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the Body of Christ.
Given the importance of the role of the catechist, adequate resources should be provided to allow for proper formation. In this area collaboration among dioceses and regions of the Church can result in more opportunities for enriching the catechist formation programs especially where the catechist deals with a variety of cultural backgrounds among those to whom he or she is sent.
The family is described as the domestic Church and enjoys a unique and supremely important role in passing on the faith. Parents are the first and primary educators in the faith. Every emphasis given family life calls for support across our hemisphere especially in these times where it is under such sustained assault from the increasingly fragmented and mobile society that places greater value on the individual than on the person’s relationship to the "first cell" of human society.
The parish and its religious education programs are intended to support and complement the efforts of parents to introduce their children into the implications of life in Jesus. Since all catechetical activity is ecclesial the educational efforts of the parish from a natural partnership with parents in the passing on of the faith.
The work of restoring unity to the Body of Christ is not an option. It follows on the nature of the Church. Unity is the natural condition for the Church. We are called by the Lord to oneness.
Our prayer, especially in our hemisphere where ecumenical and interfaith initiatives can be hampered by a variety of factors, is that we will all continue with perseverance and patience in a task that proves at times arduous and yet, in its positive results, a blessing.
We recognize the various experiences of different parts of the hemisphere and realize that such differences determine how one approaches the ecclesial imperative of ecumenism. Some elements, common to the effort, which are verified in the experience of many include the recognition that the dynamic of ecumenism and interfaith relations is one of gradual stages.
While no one historical experience holds good for a hemisphere that recognizes such diversity in our local conditions, nonetheless, we share these reflections, as well as offer our sincere prayer that this effort be for all of us as well an occasion of pastoral solidarity.
SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE CHURCH AND CULTURES.
In the Church’s effort to pass on the faith and help the people of our time encounter Christ in an enduring and meaningful way some perplexing and challenging issues confront us. Among these are a set of concerns that we have listed under the headings of Inculturation and Globalization. While these are obviously used in a somewhat arbitrary manner it is our hope that the seriousness and breadth of these concerns can be the focus of the Church’s attention as we carry on our pastoral ministry in solidarity.
There is a wholesome dynamic and the same time a tension when we deal with the mutual impact of faith and culture. In one sense we deal with the mutual impact of faith and culture. In one sense the faith finds its expression in and through the culture that is evangelized. In another sense it is the task of faith to help transform culture and render it more fittingly a participant in the work of the new creation. Finding where these two creative actions most fruitfully meet and harmonize is a major task that we in America face and do so with a sense of urgency.
In terms of passing on the faith we are increasingly aware that while the substance of the faith is one, its cultural manifestations are many. We need to rejoice in the fact that the faith is received in cultures that differ and are not homogeneous and that the reception of the faith in such cultures encourages both an authentic inculturation of the Good News while promoting at the same time a true transformation of the culture to allow it to be a manifestation, in all its diversity, of the new creation in the Holy Spirit.
Communications, particularly those related to the expressions of the popular culture and which mold the attitudes and perspectives of a whole generation throughout our hemisphere, are an object of concern. Clearly they can be instruments at the service of the Gospel message and provide new and far reaching opportunities to spread the Gospel. At the same time there is need for a clear catechesis on the critical evaluation of the content of the means of social communication and new means of personal distance communications.
SOME OBSERVATION ON GLOBALIZATION.
The final consideration of our group centered around a series of concerns identified or at least grouped under the word "globalization". Globalization is described as a step beyond that national interdependence that has marked our world society in recent decades.
While there are various reactions to the globalization of the economy it is a reality. Economists themselves are divided about the ramifications of globalization of the economy. There is still much that remains to understand both about how it works and how it affects our lives.
On both sides of the question are responses that see the process as either helpful or harmful to the impact economic activity has on social justice efforts and ultimately on the well being of people across not just our hemisphere but the globe.
The Church’s mission in this complex and yet to be satisfactotily analyzed realm is certainly that of pastor and moral guide. We recognize and proclaim that economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power.
We recognize our limited competency in the technical issues that drive so much of today’s economics but we also own our responsibility to call all involved to measure their activities by the results they produce in the lives of so many in our hemisphere as in the rest of the world.
[00276-02.03] [CM03] [Original text: English]
At the conclusion of our examination of the Relatio post disceptationem, in view of the possible Synodal propositions, we present our conclusions. We speak first of the outline, we then offer a few suggestions, and finally, we say a few words about some important themes for the post-Synodal document, offering at the same time, some perspectives for encapsulating them better in the light of the theme of the present Synod.
- It would be better to speak of kerygmatic evangelization in the first part of the document as the prerequisite for the encounter with the living Jesus Christ;
- the outline should start from Christ. It would be well to make understood the interweaving of the encounter with Christ that leads to conversion, to communion and to solidarity.
In view of the drafting of the post-Synodal Document, we point out the following suggestions:
- The importance of the Christological vision which leads us to discover Jesus Christ as the center of our life and of history.
- The document must bring to light the perspective of the coming Jubilee of the year 2000. The convenience of being able to rely on a vital document, which is practical more than theoretical or doctrinal
- It is important that some concepts used in the document are explained or defined, at least descriptively, for the purpose of understanding them in a uniform way.
-When one speaks of the option for the poor, it is necessary to add preferential in order not to exclude anyone from the announcement of the Gospel. It is important also to mention the new types of poverty, particularly that of the lack of the meaning of life and the lack of a particular commitment in the work of evangelization.
- Underlining, when one speaks of holiness, that this is nothing other than a maturation in faith, hope and charity, virtues which permit us to live "according to the Spirit"
- Putting in prominence the dialogue which has been established between North and South and which can be recognized as an example for society.
- There are cultural and pastoral situations which require the announcement of Jesus Christ: the challenge of secularization and the fascination with religious currents. Facing these expediencies, there is the necessity for announcing Jesus Christ, without fear and with the conviction of having experienced Him living in our history.
-It is necessary to underline the Trinitarian dimension of Christology. It is thanks to the Spirit that we are able to know Christ as Savior and to call God "Father".
- The same Trinitarian dimension must come forth as conversion to the living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A conversion that is not capable of prescinding from the commitment with justice.
- The missionary character of the Church, the meaning and the course of mission in the light of Evangelii nuntiandi and of Redemptoris missio.
- The content is poor when affirming the encounter with Jesus in the liturgy and in the Eucharist. It would be necessary to study in more detail this concept. The encounter with Jesus Christ occurs through his Word, prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation.
- Linked to the theme of holiness is that of martyrdom. We cannot forget that, in the Church of the first centuries, only the martyrs or those who lived a martyrdom in some way, were canonized. The theme of martyrdom has not been dealt with in the Relatio post disceptationem.
III.. THEMES AND PERSPECTIVES THAT MUST BE PRESENT IN THE POST-SYNODAL DOCUMENT
- We have noted an absence or a very poor treatment of some themes which we consider important for the post-Synodal Document. Our Group, taking into account the objectives assigned by the Pope for the Synod – the promotion of a new evangelization as the expression of Episcopal communion; solidarity among the different local Churches in diverse sectors of pastoral activity, and the illumination of the problems of justice and of international economic relations among the nations of America (Instrumentum Laboris, 1) – has wished to reflect, in a special way, on some themes. For lack of time, it has not been possible to examine everything. It is the intention of this Group to examine everything in detail at the time of the presentation of the propositions.
The themes selected by our Group are the following: Ordained ministry: Bishops - priests - permanent deacons - Laity, ministries entrusted to the laity and to catechists. Lay movements Liturgy, particularly Eucharistic - Consecrated life: apostolic commitment and multi-cultural dialogue - Formation of priests with an accent on spirituality - Biblical and Spiritual Formation.
These are the fruits of our reflection that we hope to be able to complete in the elaboration of the Synodal propositions.
Other themes selected by our Group, which we have not had time to examine and that are very important to be undertaken in the next stage according to the Synodal methodology, are those of Catholic education, inculturation, the problems of justice, in particular of foreign debt, post-Synodal Episcopal communion, and the sacraments of initiation as the vocation to holiness and to mission.
[00278-02.05] [CM06] [Original text: Italian]
1. The central role of the person of Jesus Christ
The french language small group wished to insist first of all on the central role of the person of jesus christ, the only savior, and expressed the hope that the synod message and apostolic exhortation which will follow place the person of christ jesus at the center of the entire development and at the center of all of the issues raised during the preparation and the sessions of the synod. The development of this central theme could be conducted on the basis of two complementary aspects: the personal encounter with christ, and the encounter among us in jesus christ.
2. I have heard my people crying for help (ex 3:7ss)
The french language group then called attention to the following points:
A. The need to heed the cry of the poor;
B. The need to be aware that the basic rights of the individual are written in nature herself;
C. The social doctrine of the church as a means to respond to the cry of the poor;
D. The fraternal integration of all the groups which have contributed to the development of the countries of america;
E. The suitability of appealing to various skills in order to go more deeply into the matter of the debt of the poor countries and to find an acceptable solution.
3. Evangelization as the church’s mission
The first evangelization attempts to reach non-baptized people. The second or new evangelization addresses baptized people who are no longer moved by their faith and no longer take part in the life of the community. Today, our countries need both the first and second evangelization. There are more and more people among us who have not yet encountered christ. The church fulfills her mission by evangelizing. As the body of christ, she believes in making disciples and repairs within her the links which have been broken. For the church, failure to evangelize would mean a retreat.
4. Ministries and communities
In order to be well aware of the scope of the ministries, the members of our small group have expressed the hope that reference be made to the comparison with the body as proposed by st. Paul. It is above all from here that the theology of ordained ministers derives its originality and all its meaning in associating the bishops and priests with christ, the head of his church. In an attempt to better grasp the meaning of these ministries, we believe that it would be profitable to characterize the ordained ministries by their meaning. The bishops and priests are therefore the symbol of christ, head and pastor, gathering human beings in unity and communion. With regard to deacons, they are the symbol of christ who serves. They recall to the entire people of god their vocation to follow christ who serves and to develop the bonds of service to their neighbor among them. They have also noted that in the local churches there are now recognized, approved ministries entrusted to the lay faithful, thanks to the encouragement given by pope paul vi to the creation of diversified ministries. "the lay faithful", wrote paul vi, "may also feel they are called or be called upon to collaborate with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community, for the growth and vitality of the same, exercising very different ministries, according to the grace and charisma with which the lord may endow them (...)." He added: "certainly, side by side with the ordained ministers, thanks to whom some are considered as pastors (...) The church recognizes the role of the ministries which are non-ordained but which are suited to ensure special services to the church herself" (cf. Evangelii nuntiandi, 73).
5. The lay faithful and their vocation
The building of a better world requires that the major aspects of politics, economics, scientific research and social communications which form the framework of the human community be in accordance with god’s plan. Like any other reality, they must not be ignored in the church’s evangelizing mission. This is the vocation proper to the lay faithful, to "try to establish the kingdom of god (...) Through the management of temporal things which they deal with according to god’s will" (l.g. 31). Like a yeast, they work "as if they were within the sanctification of the world" (l.g. 31). The church must urgently help the lay faithful and prepare them for the vocation which best suits them.
6. The eastern churches in america
While this synod has made an appeal for conversion so that "communion in the holy spirit" is achieved according to christ’s will, it must also promote the synergy of the eastern and western churches in one single catholic church: the latter can breath with two lungs, to use pope jean paul ii’s favorite phrase. This communion in the spirit would not be possible except in the case where the churches of east and west try to completely apply the council declaration acknowledging the right and duty of the eastern churches to govern themselves according to their own particular rules (cf. Oe 5), especially because they have the specific mission to act as witness to the most ancient dogmatic, liturgical and monastic tradition. This is indispensable for the catholicism of our lord’s church in america. These eastern churches have a precarious situation in america. There is the risk that some of them could disappear.
The ecological crisis is a major crisis throughout the world but also in america. The earth shows signs of fatigue and everyone’s attention should be focused on this drama which can only get worse. Both peoples and individuals are still too indifferent to this danger. Technical civilization has plunged the world into this crisis. But there is more. This crisis is the expression of a deeper crisis which involves the identity and mission of human beings in the world. They are closely linked to all the other creatures who inhabit the universe. They are among and with the other living creatures who came forth from the hand of god.
[00274-02.05] [CM07] [original text: french]
The summaries of the Relations presented in the Nineteeth General Congregation of this morning and not received prior to the deadline of this edition of the Bulletin, No. 22, will be published in the next Bulletin, No. 23.
The presentation of the Relations of the Small Groups will continue in the Twentieth General Congregation of this afternoon. The summaries will be publishe din the next Bulletin, No. 23.
This Nineteenth General Congregation concluded at 12.25 with the prayer "Angelus Domini". There were present 214 Fathers.
We inform the accredited journalists that Thursday, 4 December 1997, at 12:45pm, in the Pope John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office, will take place the Second Press Conference of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops.
The following will intervene:
H. Exc. Most Rev. Francis Eugene GEORGE , OMI.
Archbishop of Chicago
H. Exc. Most Rev. Estanislao Esteban KARLIC
Archbishop of Paraná
H. Exc. Luciano Pedro MENDES DE ALMEIDA, S.J.
Archbishop of Mariana
Vice President of the Commission for Information
H. Exc. Rev. Msgr. GUIRE POULARD
Bishop of Jacmel
Member of the Commission for Information
H. Exc. Most Rev. Ricardo RAMÍREZ , C.S.B.
Bishop of Las Cruces
Member of the Commission for Information
H. Exc. Rev . Alcides Jorge Pedro CASARETTO
Bishop of San Isidro
Member of the Commission for Information
Simultaneous translation in Italian, English, French, Castilian and Portuguese.