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"The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World"
The Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops is only a working instrument for journalistic use and the translations from the original are not official.
11 - 05.10.2001
At 09:00 today, Friday October 5th, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the prayer Hora Tertia, the Eighth General Congregation began for the continuation of the interventions by the Synodal Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal theme: The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World. The President Delegate on duty was H. Em. Card. Bernard AGRE, Archbishop of Abidjan.
The President Delegate on duty intervened at the opening of this General Congregation on the occasion of today’s feast.
This General Congregation ended at 12.30 with the prayer Angelus Domini and 247 Fathers were present.
The following Fathers intervened:
Below are the summaries of the interventions:
According to No. 20 of the Instrumentum laboris, "A culture which lives only for the day is not open to the transcendent; even Christians are increasingly looking with an indifferent eye at the world-to-come and the supernatural aspect of life which makes worldly existence truly worth living".
A culture not open to the transcendent marginalizes any authentic hope. And if there is indifference
among Christians regarding a scatological future, the object of faith is neither expected not desired, so that the lack of hope adversely affects faith, even eliminating it, due to the lack of contents to which the believer gives value.
This often induces me to think that the faithful - called thus because they are carriers of faith - should also be defined as "hopeful", because they must also be carriers of hope, in that they desire and truly wish for that which is the object of their faith: to see God.
It therefore seems proper that the Instrumentum laboris has hope as the basic theme of its thought.
It is very important that in preaching and in every contact with the people of God, we help them pass from simple waiting for the immediate future to the desire to reach the scatological future: an expectation which is not a mere consolation for the loss of this life - which is the only one people would never like to lose - due to death, although in realty it is not a loss but transformation. It leads to the expectation of the purpose for which we were created: the contemplation of God, beyond death. An expectation maintained here as a desire or nostalgia for definitive union with God.
We cannot forget that the weakening of hope in Someone or in something also weakens love.
I would dare say that hope is the firm support of faith in times of growing unbelieving or indifference to the faith. And also an effective motivation for charity.
No. 13: "Capacity to dream the future and to indicate lasting paths".
No human person, and certainly not a Christian, can be resigned to living passively or being the victim of the events in which he is involved; he must feel responsible and called to improve the culture in which he lives. In other words he must work to raise the level of values, attitudes, motivations, political lines and culture of his country. He must be induced to all this by strong hope.
Therefore, we must explain to the people of God, regarding their behavior, not only the sins they must avoid, that is how to defend themselves from evil, but above all how they can achieve good. Since it is often clearer to Catholics what they must not do - they have a sense of sin, though not all of them and not in all spheres - it is not clear to everyone what they are expected to do. At this point it is a matter of what society asks of them, the call to personal holiness, what God expects from their lives. In this sense, we should recall that those who remember with the passing of time and trace a path for the future are the saints. They continue to exercise their influence on the actions of people today and on the formation of their consciences.
No. 34: "Without this hope, all the Bishop’s pastoral activity would be fruitless".
I conclude by confessing that when in prayer I very often contemplate - with the look of faith - diocesan reality, which is not at all easy for establishing the Gospel, asking the Lord not to apply to the possible pastoral results the standard of my faith and my response to it. I am consoled by the knowledge that the result depends more on God and his salvific plan than on me, but nevertheless I continue to cultivate hope regarding all. I refer to the words of Jesus repeated so often like: "Do you think I could do this?", "O man of little faith, why do you doubt?" And above all the phrase of Jesus saying: "Let it be done according to your faith".
Finally, I ask the Lord that in the evangelization and sanctification of the people, He may go far beyond what I, in the depth of my soul, see as possible, although I do not consider myself as a pessimist. May the Lord not say to me: "Let it be done according to your faith", because His people would often not be favored.
I therefore thank the Holy Father and those who have collaborated with them for having insisted that we bishops be "servants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the hope of the world".
[00123-02.04] [in098] [Original text: Spanish]
Referring to No. 58 of the Instrumentum Laboris, the horizon of our work must be illuminated by the example of the holy bishops who preceded us. I will limit myself to sketch the profile of Bishops in the exercise of their duty at the service of the particular church.
How did they live the episcopal ministry?
Which are the major traits of this ministry?
Those with which I am most familiar, in France and in Italy, during the two critical periods of history: the Counter Reformation and the XIX Century that followed the French Revolution, permit us to point out four apostolic dimensions that allow us to recognize the "good shepherds".
- nearness to the People of God entrusted to them;
- privileged attention towards priests;
- welcoming new forms of institutes of priests and consecrated life;
- a predilection for the poor.
Today, the Bishop is a part of this tradition. He is the link that continues. If the times have changed, are the great apostolic efforts in life and in pastoral action still effective? The bishops of the past were the workers of hope for the men of their times. We too must take the path they followed to open our world to hope, which lies in Christ.
[00125-02.03] [in100] [Original text: French]
"In the Church no one is a stranger" (IL, 84). This statement in the Instrumentum Laboris, how can I make it mine, in the diocese of Saint-Denis, which has more than 170 ethnic groups? The Catholic Church looks like a "small flock" here. But it is the only place where anyone, no matter where they come from, must feel welcomed "like a brother, a sister, a mother". We see Jews, Muslims, members of religious currents, more difficult to define.
The baptized, mixed in this uprooted population, little by little realizes that they are called together to love, "in acts and in truth", their neighbor, not chosen by them. We have just experienced a diocesan synod. Marked by the renewed fervor and joy, this event corresponded, for us, to the dynamics of the Jubilee. In the parishes, the diocesan services or the lay movements, we wished to make room for the Christians coming from elsewhere. After this synod, I understand how the different "councils" encouraged by the decree Christus Dominus and canonically well-defined by the 1983 Code, help one live the episcopal ministry with a spirit of trust towards the priests, the deacons, the lay persons and the consecrated persons. The bishop’s magisterium is not diluted, it awakens the "sense of the faithful" (LG, 12) and is nurtured by this.
Thanks to the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, we dare to face questions we did not have the courage to deal with, like those on ministries, "instituted or simply recognized". The priority given to vocations, to the priestly ministry has borne its fruits. The Synod of Bishops will find its reason for being, in the measure of taking into account today’s challenges and what the Instrumentum Laboris calls "the signs of vitality and hope of our times" (25).
[00126-02.03] [in101] [Original text: French]
What a challenge for us, the bishops of the Third World, to be the witnesses of hope in our world in disarrayTo better define our identity as Bishops, we were made apostles (Mk 3:10-15), consecrated and sent forth in the footsteps of Jesus (Jn 10:30), marked as bursars and servants of grace (1 Cor 16:21-23).
Witnesses of hope, the Bishops preach, in time and against time (2 Tim 4:2). Our dear nation of Haiti is so unbalanced. Pope John Paul is still correct today: "something must change", to be able to re-establish the social equilibrium.
The Haitian people live a complex and agitated life. It is a history of fighting for the liberation of the oppressed. It is, perhaps, the inheritance of a class of massacred people, others torn from their country and completely thrown into slavery with all its horrors. Escaping slavery on a large scale, followed by the 1804 Independence heroically won over the Spanish, the English and the French, noticeably weakened for various reasons.
And the escape from slavery is not dead yet: the never-ending political crises have much to say on this. More so with globalization.
The Bishops of Haiti are obliged to chose holiness, to preach the Gospel of Hope in a world of contradictions.
It is evident to us that we, the Bishops of Haiti, are called to a special discernment in the particular context of today’s socio-political life. But all this in an intimacy with Christ who calls us friends (cf. Jn 15:15).
Therefore, our mission on the way of Haitian man is to be the light on that path, to build the Body of Christ, to promote men where deceived hopes are reborn.
This is why Ecclesia in America, Novo Millennio Ineunte, call upon us in charity. We must be united in the mutual exchange of help, without any discrimination under the guidance of the Heavenly Father. The Gospel will not be a dead end. It remains the Word of Life, Evangelium Vitae.
Dear Bishops, let us overcome the wall of fear. Let us be the witnesses of the Risen Christ. Let us launch forth duc in altum. May the sun of Easter Sunday shine on us.
[00127-02.04] [in102] [Original text: French]
The bishop has a three-fold ministry of teaching, sanctifying and shepherding the people of his diocese. I am increasingly aware that it is necessary not only to keep the faith, but also to deepen it among priests and people.
The consumerist culture attenuates faith, making commitment to both teaching and practice more difficult. One way to counter this consumerist culture is for the bishop to initiate a plan aiming at the spiritual and pastoral renewal of his people. I propose that the Synod consider such a programme, which would have four essential elements:
1. Prayer and liturgy , particularly the Eucharist, and also renewed study of scripture.
2. Community, especially small communities - groups of people meeting to pray, ref1ect on the Word of God and relate it to their daily lives. These can transform a parish.
3. Formation: effective catechesis in what we believe (the Creed), what we celebrate (sacraments), and how we should live ( commandments, beatitudes ).
4. Work for justice and peace, to be a voice for the voiceless and to care for people in need.
In bringing such a plan about, the bishop is crucial. He alone can call and animate such a venture and so the formation of Bishops at both international and local level is an integral element.
The role of the diocesan bishop is to create the climate where hearts and minds are open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Let us not be discouraged - the Lord Jesus Christ is with us.
[00128-02.03] [in103] [Original text: English]
A pre-synodal consultation among the faithful in Canada suggests a profile of the Bishop as witness of hope for the world. In such a profile, the Bishop is foremost a man of Faith, unwavering in belief in God active in the world as well as in God victor over death. The Bishop is also to be a man of vision, well-versed in reading the ‘signs of the times’, discerning the positive elements of life in contemporary society and heralding with strength the Gospel in modes of expression suited to the understanding of today's people.
Further the Bishop must be a man of communion, husbanding the talents of all members of God’s people, careful not to stifle legitimate differences and engendering harmony and peace among the various tendencies prevalent among God’s people. As a result, conflicts, rather than being divisive become occasions for growth. As promoter of human dignity the Bishop calls the best from all men and women through actions faithful to the Word thereby enabling the Gospel to penetrate humanities social fabric bringing healing wherever needed. And as man of compassion he is witness of hope as he embodies the goodness of Christ towards all who suffer.
The results of the consultation also indicated a perception of the Bishop as an administrator or as someone representing out-moded ideas. We are led to examine who we are both locally and universally; to review our structures and our ways of operation; to question whether our mandate to transmit the past is exercised in a manner allowing the Gospel to be properly heard and understood in the world of today.
In short, we must revisit the figure of the Bishop so that it may better exemplify the image of the Good Shepherd and of the Servant washing the feet of his disciples.
[00129-02.04] [in104] [Original text: English]
I believe we must point out the worth of the apostolic characteristic of the Episcopal ministry more than is done in the Instrumentum Laboris.
The apostolic characteristic is not evident in societies that consider the Church’s mission and that of the bishops according to political and social characteristics. In the past, identified in monarchs or princes, the bishops are often identified today as managers or judges.
Even if the history of the Church, with the nations, can explain the recourse to these political models, we must manifest our apostolic identity ourselves.
Theologically, one must turn to the sacramentality and the collegiality of the episcopate, but without separating them from Christology. It is Christ who, by His Holy Spirit, constitutes us as His witnesses and His representatives, in the following of the apostles.
Spiritually, each of us can say how he is in communion with the Cross of Christ for His Body, which is the Church. At times we also suffer for the Church, when she is paralyzed by her tensions or when the zeal of faith and charity is blocked by structures that are too heavy, too secularized or too bureaucratic.
Pastorally, we work so that our particular Churches may be faithful to their apostolic identity, by learning to live of Christ to proclaim Him to the world. With this finality, in France, we are vigilant that collaboration between priests and the laity obey a sacramental logic that allows the deployment of the gifts received from God, and not a functional logic where one only looks to share powers.
This enacting of the apostolic characteristic of our ministry also has a political element. It makes us free, facing all political power, to help hearing the questions that condition the human future of our societies. In the name of what may we assert the dignity of all the children of God? In the name of what may we refuse violence and seek reconciliation?
Therefore, we are teachers and servants of the faith received from God, but also teachers and servants of the charity of Christ, in the service of all, and in the first place of the humiliated and those forgotten by our societies. I hope that this synod will encourage us to serve this alliance between faith and charity.
[00130-02.05] [in105] [Original text: French]
Our Instrumentum laboris is dedicated to the theme of Bishops Emeriti in number 76.
Dispensed from their tasks administrating a Diocese, they continue in the same way to be members of the Episcopal College (cf. Canto 336).
Although one recognizes the convenience of the Emeritate for the good of the Local Churches, we must at the same time make some observations:
1. We know that many Emeriti, at 75 years of age still have pretty good health and lucid minds. In view of the increase of quality of life, fixing the age of "retirement" (Canto 401, para 1) it should be extended, for now, to the age of 78 (1).
2. The Bishops Emeriti continue to be members of the Episcopal College, so why not admit them as members of the Episcopal Conferences?
3. If these Emeriti have a voice and deliberative vote in the Ecumenical Council and in the Local Councils, why can’t they give their vote in the Assembly of Episcopal Conferences?
4. If the Bishop Emeritus, continues to be bound by the same diocese, he should deserve his name be announced in the Canon of the Holy Mass immediately after the name of the Diocesan Bishop, a fact that would manifest well and holy his bond to the Diocese.
5. The Bishops Emeriti themselves should also have ordinary faculty to assist at weddings, within the limits of the Diocese.
6. As regards to the residence, the Law allows the Emeriti to keep their residence in the Diocese. Safeguarding certain provisions of the Holy See or personal criteria, I think that the Bishop Emeritus, normally must remain in the Diocese, bearing witness to the life of unity with the new diocesan Bishop, in his willingness to work together with him whenever necessary. Experience however must demonstrate that the Emeritus must know to act with Knowledge and Discernment to not enter into the problems of the diocesan government. It will be important to underline, that the Emeritus must have the prudence to not make unfavorable comments to the person and the attitudes of the diocesan Bishop. The Primordial Mission of the Bishop Emeritus is to pray for the new pastor of the Diocese and for his diocesan community.
7. As regards to the title precedent within the territory of the Diocese (I speak with simplicity), the Bishop Emeritus must be the first after the diocesan Bishop.
(1)- Studies made for the Organization of the United Nations (UN), advises that in the year 2050, we will have in the world 2,200,000 "centenarians". - (care of Pontifical Council for the Laity - The Dignity of the Elderly and His Mission in the Church and the World of 1.10.1998 - Introduction).
[00131-02.04] [in106] [Original text: Italian]
I. EUCHARIST AND THE DEFENCE OF THE FAITH
The Eastern Churches look at the bishop as an Eucharistic person. As teacher he has to ensure that the community's knowledge and faith proclamation agrees with its Eucharistic celebration. The bishop preaches the Word to gather a Christian people around the Eucharist where the Faith of our Fathers is celebrated and proclaimed. The Church has been always tempted to dilute the Apostolic Tradition to suit the convenience of the people under one pretext or another. While the teachers and preachers of the modern media confuse the ordinary faithful, the bishop has the duty to raise his voice for the Church of Christ. He has also the obligation to verify and co-ordinate the exercise of charisms in the light of Apostolic Tradition. It also makes sure to lay down one's life in defence of the true faith.
II. A COLLEGIAL MINISTRY
The bishop has to teach and act in communion with the college of bishops under the leadership of the Bishop of Rome. It is ca1led 'Synodality' in the East, a moving together of the whole Church with the bishops who are closely united according to the model of the Triune God. In the Synodal process, the bishops used to verify their faith with each other. Petrine ministry in the Church is that of helping the individual Churches to be faithful to their own faith traditions. The Petrine office will have to encourage valid local initiatives and strengthen necessary local structures. There need be no opposition between the two.
III. THE ECUMENICAL TASK
The Bishop has the obligation to promote ecumenism through prayer, collaboration, faithfulness to tradition and theological dialogue. Eastern Catholic Churches have a special role in promoting ecumenism. They do this by being faithful to their own traditions of liturgy, theology and spirituality. They shou1d have the courage to own up the whole Oriental heritage and to live by it. The Western Church shou1d fully recognise this role of the Orientals and their right to give pastoral care to their migrants.
[00132-02.04] [in107] [Original text: English]
We cannot but agree with the choice of basing the Synodal Assembly, in the topic itself, and even more so in the substance of the proposal, on hope, on Christ, hope of the world. Hope not only opens up to action in a concrete way, but more importantly projects the Church towards the outside. In this openness, she discovers the eschatological hope of which she is the bearer, because men need and thirst for this Hope, after and among the many utopistic ideologies or materialistic reductions. We must likewise observe how in nearly forty years of experience of the Synod of Bishops not all the potentials, including the institutional ones, have been expressed up to now, while the structure of the Synod, which appeared to be improvable, has not undergone any changes.
The authority and responsibility of the Bishop before the particular Church is exercised on all the faithful, including those who are members of the new ecclesial movements, which are a gift of the Spirit for the Church. This, however, is far from being a stifling of the vitality they manifest. The opinion on their genuineness and their orderly functioning belongs to those who oversee the Church, whose special task is not to extinguish the Spirit, but rather to examine everything and keep what is good. The ministry of communion, which pertains to the bishop, cannot lead to or tolerate conflict between movement and the particular Church with all her aspects. The principles of this relationship, in which the bishop is primarily responsible, have been fully set forth by the Supreme Pontiff, also on recent occasions. Here we would rather liked to draw attention to the fact that the identification, sometimes even organized and publicized, of some bishops with some of the new movements, is unsuitable. This is not to deny that a bishop might come from an experience of internal participation in a movement. It is rather a matter of the negative impact this objectively involves for the ministry of the bishops, for the particular Church and, as a matter of fact, for the movement itself, with confusion or mistaking between the ministry of unity of the bishop and his personal charismatic experience.
[00170-02.03] [ln068] [Original text: Italian]
In the Apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, the words of Jesus to Simon the Apostle are quoted "Duc in altum" "put out into the deep". The effect too is noted. "They caught a great number of fish" (Luke 5,6). With this thought in mind I want to make the following comments in respect of inculturation and liturgical renewal. Pope John Paul II in a letter to the Cardinal Secretary of State (20th May 1982) wrote: " A faith which has not become inculturated is a faith which has not been fully received, which has not been completely thought through, which has not been faithfully lived". The messenger preaches the Gospel from within the setting of his cultural milieu. Since the Gospel is always culturally embodied, we cannot speak of its entry into a new culture in a pure state. On the other the receiving people accept it in the setting of their own culture, comprising their language, social traditions and religious heritage. Translations from a dead language (Latin), belonging to a foreign dead culture (Roman), though seen as a vehicle of orthodoxy, fail to respond satisfactorily to the character and style of living Indian and tribal languages. Indian and tribal peoples express themselves in languages, which are highly colorful, symbolic, poetic and emotional. Consequently there is need for a free and idiomatic vernacular version of the original Latin rite books whether the Missal or the Ritual. No doubt care has to taken to preserve purity of doctrine and to maintain an atmosphere of the sacred. Thus SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM has allowed, in the revision of the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions and peoples, especially in mission countries. Ad Gentes foresaw that "new particular churches, each with its own traditions have their place in the community of the Church, the primacy of Peter which presides over this universal assembly of charity, all the while remaining intact". (no.22) The Roman Rite is straight-forward, concise and compact, which characteristics are precisely the opposite to the cultures and languages in India. Sacrosanctum concilium only wanted the substantial unity of the Roman rite to be maintained.. There must be room for cultural differences of various peoples and races and for the dynamic creativity within the new Churches. As we respond to the call "Put out into the deep" we bishops servants of the Gospel, would want to be signs of hope for our people.
[00124-02.03] [in099] [Original text: English]
1. Those who have put their hopes in the Church and therefore in the bishops are the poor; and do not think that these hopes are only material ones.
The poor are grateful to the Church because they have been helped through the Gospel to discover their dignity as persons and children of God; because they have been accompanied in their search for life, dignity and justice; and because their personal abilities and communities are respected and valued.
The poor increase more and more every day, and yet they do not count in the globalized economy of our time, they are excluded. We bishops must proclaim once again that the poor (peoples and culture, no matter how small and insignificant they may be) are human beings and as such form the central core of the Good News of Jesus and of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
2. As regards culture and inculturation, No. 110, which tackles these themes, should be reformulated. It is important to underline the evangelizing task of the bishop before modern and post modern culture, without forgetting autochtonous cultures and the new cultural movements: of the poor, of women, of young people, etc.
"Not only preached evangelical poverty, but also lived and witnessed by the bishops is one of the indispensable requisites for the proclamation of the Gospel to be listened to and welcomed by man of today.
[00133-02.04] [ln108] [Original text: Spanish]
One of the difficult times a bishop finds his leadership role tested is in times of conflicts. Often, conflicts happen suddenly and bishops are caught in their midst. Many persons and the media come to the bishop for quick answers, for help, for understanding, for consolations, etc. What can the bishop do?
The Bishops of Ethiopia and Eritrea faced such a situation recently, There arose a border conflict between the two countries which led to war. It was a war between two peoples who shared the same history, religion and culture. When this war between brothers and sisters, the consequences are terrible. In short, thousands died and the war ended. Now the United Nations are involved in peace keeping.
Wars not only destroy and kill but also divide and separate. Yet, by the Grace of God, before, during, and after the war, the Bishops of Ethiopia and Eritrea remained united under the Episcopal Conference. It was not easy to remain united, especially when all the rest were separating. The fact that the Conference remained united became a sign of hope for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea. In the heat of conflict and war, it became a voice of reason, appeal for peace, and compassion.
I think, by the Grace of God, the Conference has acted right during the conflict. It did not take sides. At present, its credibility is high and is being invited to be an instrument of rehabilitation, reconciliation, and peace-building.
[00134-02.04] [in109] [Original text: English]
For Jesus, evangelization primarily meant the proclamation of the Kingdom of God (Mk l: 15). And at the heart of the Gospel was the Kingdom that was presented as the "indispensable first" (Lk 12: 31 ). God's Kingdom, with love as its innermost and greatest value, is absolute. Everything besides was relative to it (EN 8).
But love as Kingdom's highest value was presented as God's great gift of salvation to man (Jn 3:16), and this love of God was offered as liberating --- saving humans from ignorance, sickness, hunger, injustice, selfishness, hate and violence. Above all Jesus forgave sins, because it was at the very root of all human miseries and enslavement. Salvation, seen before by some as exclusively a freeing from sin, had an integral image in the redemption Jesus wrought, because He freed humans from every kind of oppression or control of the Evil One.
Even if, admittedly, the generaI principles of the Church's social teachings can provide guidance for the resolution of problems, it must still be mentioned that the Church and its Bishops can provide the shepherd's spirit or spirituality that inspire the initial solution to human problems.
The spirituality of the Bishop is the communio that allows him to know and love the Triune God --- as Father, Son and Holy Spirit --- the source of unity and all communio. To be called to that Eternal Communio is to become acquainted with prayer, reflection, silence, solitude and contemplation.
But God's love was offered to man when "the Word was made flesh" (Jn 1:4). In Christ divine love was expressed in a human way and man leamed another dimension of communio among humans. The Bishop then learns of the spirituality that inspires him to be more sensitive to suffering, more compassionate, more self-sacrificing, more forgiving, more encouraging, hopeful and brave!
[00135-02.05] [in110] [Original text: English]
1. All the young churches of Africa which recently celebrated the first Centenary of their Evangelization have expressed two great feelings: gratitude towards God and towards the Church, and hope for the future. By making mine these two ways of honouring the History of Evangelization on the continent with its brilliant missionary period, I would like to add the theme for reflection of our Synod.
2. To thank, in fact, is to recall. However, it is also promising to value the gift received. To thank, is also to pay tribute and open the door to hope. There, where the grace of God has seconded the effort of man - sometimes to the extent of heroism - there is reason to be in awe.
3. Here we must recall the tireless encouragement and prophetic accompaniment of the great Popes of the last century, and closer to us, Pope Paul Vl and Pope John Paul II.
Already in 1994, the continental synod for Africa stressed on hope, a paschal hope based on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Church, in all its components, should look forward and commit itself.
The role of the Bishop is apart. "The Spirit of the Lord is over me. He sent me to bring the Good News to the poor".
4. The poor are legion in Africa, that is to say men and women who have been deprived of food, health, education, work, safety and even of a country. We hold in Africa, due to our endless wars, the sad record of the refugees and of those people without land and freedom.
The young are also poor. One is struck by their exuberant life everywhere. They are the great majority.
Women are also and have always been poor. Their condition is hard and precarious ; however, their ability to love and serve is more and more noticed. To evangelize them according to the commitment of the Church implies opening a big source of hope...
5. Blessed Pope John XXIII wanted a poor and serving Church. Who, more than the Bishop, can give an image and bear witness to the world?
In Africa, we have opted for a family Church: Is this not the place for solidarity, communion and sharing? If we could give a bit of our poverty for the missionary sharing, as many times our Latin American brothers have hoped for, would this not be a guarantee for our hope and our survival?
6. We have total trust in God because we believe in the fecundity of the cross which till recently has tragically marked our history: in addition, I am thinking of the asassination of Mons. Plumey in Cameroon, of Mons. Claverie and the 7 Trappist monks in Algeria...I am also thinking of Mons. Christophe Munzihirwa in the Congo and Mons. Kataliko, his successor, who died here in Rome, exhausted from fatigue during the important meeting of the African bishops.
To Timothy, the young bishop at the service of the first Christian communities, St Paul addressed again on the first opening day of our Synod by the Pope with the Mass and his homily...
Welcome this message with a soul full of hope, that is to say commit yourself to become like the good shepherds of yesterday and today: Bishops and priests "poor, servants, prophets, intrepid and saints". Ad spem per Crucem. It is by our faithfulness to the mystery of Christ who died and rose that we can reach Hope.
[00163-02.04] [ln112] [Original text: French]
Our intervention is made on behalf of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda, but the challenges that we evoke and the efforts that we are called to work reveal conditions of life which we share with our neighbors of the Great Lakes Region, and perhaps even beyond.
In Rwanda, the Bishop is called to bear witness to Hope, in the name of the Gospel, in a country torn apart, in a region where war and violence rage in various forms, where the paroxysm was the genocide and massacres of 1994.
We are seeing an expansion of our society without precedent, manifested by ethnic wars, the unceasing movements of refugees, the great number of orphans and widows, a prison population whose growth defies the possibility of a healthy management. All this can be added to the devastation of pandemic AIDS, a growing poverty that seriously endangers education and the well-being of the population.
Efforts to counter these challenges
The encounters organized between the Conferences of Burundi, Congo and Rwanda have permitted a concertation between the Churches of the three countries on the situation of their peoples. Messages were sent exhorting for peace, among others the one of November 1999: "We are all brothers (Mt 23:8): Stop the war!"
In the Rwandan Conference, the pastoral ministry of the Jubilee celebrations represented a propitious occasion for examining one’s conscience at all levels of the ecclesial organization, to start once again with a new spirit and rebuild a reconciled society.
These efforts of renovation have been channeled through the organization of an extraordinary synod about the ethnic question in all the dioceses of Rwanda. The debates during the synodal encounters have opened ways towards a better conscience about the past that must be taken on to purify the germs of exclusion and hate from it, and to more resolutely face today’s challenges.
A pastoral program of reconciliation is organized at all levels of the life of the Church.
The Church also commits herself to a national program for the protection of life and health, especially in the battle against pandemic AIDS, and for the pastoral ministry for prisoners, widows, orphans and other persons made vulnerable through the effects of war and genocide.
Calling of the Universal Church
Faced with so many challenges, the Bishop must live in true communion with other Bishops and with the Universal Church. The College of Bishops must, above all, manifest its solidarity towards those achieving their mission in countries with conflictual situations.
This solidarity may take on various forms:
The fact of conceding credit just on the Bishop’s advice has implications on the daily affairs of the people, rather than judging more viable another source of information on problems existing on the lands of the Apostolate would be of great support.
We would also like to call the attention on the health of Bishops in general and on the accompaniment of Bishops emeritus in particular.
The spiritual resources of the Bishops must also play an important role in their life and in their action, that they may be witnesses of Hope among their people.
That there be more sensitivity and solidarity towards the Churches in difficulty because of their limited material means.
Proclaiming the Gospel urges us towards being messengers of Hope in a world facing often inextricable conflicts. But trust in the Spirit of the Risen Lord shall not deceive us, He who promises to be at our sides until the end of the world.
[00138-02.03] [in113] [Original text: French]
My intervention refers to number 58 of the Instrumentum laboris, where one recommends the spiritual communion with the Holy fathers as a motif of hope and XXXX of apostolic commitment. I experienced this effect in the figure of one of my predecessors in the episcopate of Braga (Portugal). Fra’Bartolomeo dos Mártires, whose beatification is scheduled for next 4 November. This Servant of God wrote a book, entitled Stimulus Pastorum, in which he synthesizes the ideals of the priest which he lived and proposed to his priests.
Here are some of the points for reflection: The bishop must constantly confront his life with the ideal which he has taken on, because he takes more of life in discussions; only the fraternity lived with his priests may impede the bishop from living "only" in the midst of the multitudes and problems; a pastoral life which needs to respond to the true concerns of today, he must reconcile the contemplation and the incarnation of the world; the latter presumes that humility that brings the priest to receive the truth reached from inside and outside the Church — a receipt having maternal elements to display "the maternal face of God." In one’s own home, Fra’Bartolomeo dos Mártires wants a worthy sobriety; and as a uniform asks the priest to wear joy: joy as evidence of any failure and that is the fruit of an accurate choice and preparation of the priests. Every bishop must remain faithful to received personal charism, without forgetting however that he is animator of the communion of charisms and the ministers of the other faithful in Christ.
In conclusion, thanks to God for the example left by Fra’Bartolomeo dos Mártires and I wish that many other bishops who "had shined" during the long history of the church as pastoral and doctrinal models will be declared worthy imitation through an easier and more innovative process. In the case of Fra’Bartolomeo dos Mártires, it was necessary for four centuries to pass before being called Blessed. The people canonized him after his death, bestowing upon him the title of "Saint Archbishop". I think that an evangelical life in the service of hope, acknowledged and confirmed by the popular adhesion within the local community, is put as soon as possible on the lampstand of the Church of God. And it will arrive by the hands of the local Bishop, in whose commitment and availability are the deciding factors for the success of the above-mentioned process
[00140-02.03] [in115] [Original text: Italian]
The Church of Antioch always listened to its first Patriarch, our most venerable predecessor Saint Ignatius, who taught us: "There, where the bishop is, lies the Church presided over by the Church of Rome in charity". Our ecclesial Community considers the bishop as an authentic Pastor and welcomes him during his solemn entrance acclaiming: "Come in peace oh true pastor". It attributes him the following charisms: "Foundation of the Church like Peter, image of Paul, the Zeal of Elijah, and the purity of John...". For the Community, the bishop is Christ. The same reverence paid to Christ is to be paid to the bishop. The bishop is the father who one sprinkle incense over nine times likewise with the Icon of Christ. He is the man-God whom one touches with veneration and kisses the hand to receive pardon and a blessing.
Conversely, this pastor, aware of his weaknesses, turns towards the people and confesses aloud that he is only a weak Servant and sinner, and asks for the prayer of the Community. It is in this spirit that the whole Community lives its faith. The bishop is the good Shepherd who knows his flock and calls them by their name and the flock know him. They know him as the man of God and as a weak human person who carries inside Christ the Light and fully gives himself to his Community. It is for his Fiancée that he disperses all his energy and protects her against wind and flood. He is the first to go to be martyred when persecutions hit the Church. Bishop Maloyan who will be beatified next Sunday will be followed, please God, by another bishop of the Church of Antioch, Mar Falvien Malki, who in 1915, were martyred and did not abandon their flock sent to be slaughtered.
The Church of Antioch, thanks to its bishops and patriarchs, had missionary zeal. These missionary bishops took the road of the East like Peter took the road of the West. They brought the good news as far as China passing through Persia and India, without any money and without being supported by the Mission and other missionary works. They were poor but full of Love and faith in the risen Christ.
Currently the Church of Antioch, since the conquest of Islam, has withdrawn in itself. The Bishop tries to save what he can save of the little which is still left in this Middle East. He has become in the Church, not only the good shepherd, but also the protector of the Community before the civil authorities. It is he who has the duty to protect the civil rights, and in certain countries, he is almost a political leader, who in spite of suffering which this causes him, he denounces everything which suffocates democracy, freedom and independence in his country.
Lastly what we wish is that the bishop - in reply to the promises of Jesus - may have the courage to lead his herd with strength and perseverance, living with him, praying with him and dying with him. Of course the Bishop must be a good administrator, a good preacher but first and foremost he must be a good Christian sharing community life with a small parish community making with them a journey of conversion, like some pastors do in some Neo-Catechumenal communities.
[00141-02.03] [ln116] [Original text: French]
The Union of Superiors General (USG) dedicated its recent Assembly to the study of Instrumentum laboris on the theme: "We share responsibilities walking together along the path of hope". We could appreciate that in the IL charismatic, theological and providential wealth of the episcopal ministry stand out from a perspective of hope. The horizon of hope is the best sign to regenerate and make fruitful the relationship between forms of Christian life and the episcopal ministry of the Church. When the virtue of hope which is a gift of God takes hold of our Pastors, the whole Church opens more easily its doors to the presence of the Trinity and, from there, renews its whole communion and promotes its evangelizing mission. As members of Institutes of consecrated life we wonder: "What do we do to take and what can we share in order to contribute towards the communion of hope? What can we do so that our Pastors can lead the Hope of the Church as its witnesses, prophets and servants in today’s world? The best answer is our life which has given hope, than to be shared, is the source of communion and stimulus for our joint journey.
For shared hope to be the source of communion it must be celebrated and encouraged. There must be celebrating memory for those who have inspired our journey and have supported us by bearing witness of a living hope. As consecrated people we are attempting to extend the vigorous hope of the Founders. Amongst us there are people who serenely look towards the future; who radiate joy knowing they have been called by God; who have no difficulty in risking their life even as far as martyrdom. However at the same time, we consecrated people must be weary about risking to lose the prophetic part, in view of our hope needing to be encouraged. For us those Bishops who like our form of life are an invaluable grace; they trust it, they warmly welcome it in their local church, they thank God for it and they comfort it in its difficulties.
Today saying words of hope is not enough. One must join together in the journey of hope. We have already had paths of dialogue and participation with our Pastors. However, if we wish to do something more to proclaim the Gospel of hope, then we must work for a reconciled, enthusiastic and missionary Church. When we all live filled with hope and expectation and giving hope, the Spirit flaps its wings, the Kingdom shows itself, the resurrection of Jesus begins to be the Good News for everybody. It is necessary to widen the space for communion, to build bridges, live amongst those who are different. Amongst the journeys which we can walk along together, I wish to point out the following:
1) Contemplation and compassion. Consecrated life has very adequate charisms to increase contemplation and discernment, to detect the steps of God in history and mark the values of the future Kingdom. We consecrated people feel we are called to be messengers of hope strengthening our option for the poor and the excluded, especially today, when gain is fomented by a small group of people leaving hundreds of human beings in misery. We cannot leave behind the disappointed hope of the poor and the unlucky. (Cf Ps 9:18).
2) Share the spirituality and mission of the lay faithful . The IL guides to lay the grounds for relations amongst Bishops. Priests, consecrated people and lay faithful. We have experienced the need to go far beyond the Mutuae relationes among Bishops and the Religious, in order to share spirituality and the mission together with the lay faithful. This is the best way to overcome opposition and useless comparatives.
3) Cooperation in the preparation of evangelizers for the new "aeropagos": education, culture and the means of communication. These are privileged journeys to consolidate hope. Sometimes one has to begin by recovering trust in intelligence in order to adequately respond to the new problems of life and foster more study and investigation.
[00142-02.04] [ln117] [Original text: Spanish]
The fifth briefing for the language groups will take place tomorrow, Saturday October 6th 2001 at 13:10 (in the briefing locations and with the Press Officers indicated in Bulletin No. 2).
We would like to remind the audio-visual operators (cameramen and technicians) to request the access permit (restricted) from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The fifth pool for the Synod Hall will be formed for the opening prayer of the Tenth General Congregation of Saturday morning, October 6th 2001.
The list for registration to the pool is available to the editors at the Information and Accreditation Office of the Press Office of the Holy See (at the entrance, on the right).
We would like to recall that the audio-visual operators (cameramen and technicians) and photographers are kindly requested to apply to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to participate in the information pool for the Synod Hall.
We would also like to remind the participants in the Information Pool that they are kindly requested to be at the Press Area at 8:30 a.m., outside the entrance of the Paul VI Hall, when they will be called by name to enter the Synod Hall, always accompanied respectively by an officer of the Holy See Press Office and from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The next Bulletin No. 12, regarding the works of the Ninth General Congregation of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of this afternoon will be available to the accredited journalists tomorrow Saturday 6 October 2001, at the opening of the Holy See Press Office.
Bulletin Synodus Episcoporum - X Ordinary
General Assembly - 2001