Commission for information of the
"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.
13 - 06.10.2001
At 09:00 today, Saturday October 6th, in remembrance of St Bruno of Calabria, priest, Founder of the Carthusians, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the prayer Hora Tertia, the Tenth General Congregation began for the Audition of the Auditors I, the first Audition for the interventions of the Auditors and the continuation of the interventions of the Synod 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. Ivan DIAS, Archbishop of Bombay.
This General Congregation ended at 12.30 with the prayer Angelus Domini and 228 Fathers were present.
The following Auditors intervened:
Below are summaries of the interventions:
The horrendous terrorist attacks in New York and Washington have caused deep sadness and pain in
all of us. At the World Congress of Catholic Journalists, we passed a resolution condemning terrorism and all other acts of violence against civilian populations.
Last Easter, Holy Father, you reminded us of the terrible evil of racism. Racism is a sin. It is a relentless cancer that will only be satisfied with the destruction of everyone, including the very people that the racist cancer has found a home in.
Is there a cure for this evil? At the beginning of the Third Millennium of the Christian Era, Your Holiness told us that "holiness remains more than ever an urgent pastoral task" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, no.30). Holiness means wholeness; it means a sense of all-roundedness, a sense of fullness where God, all one's fellow beings, and the whole of creation are seen and acknowledged as saturated with the loving presence of God.
This is why we are in such need of Christian role models. We need bishops who have clearly imbibed the very message they are trying to disseminate to the laity by concretely living that message. We also need bishops who are ready to listen to those they are called to serve. Authority in the Church is not in order to have power but rather to empower. True authority consists in activating the potential of those to whose service one is given responsibility. In our Church today, we find in our laity a huge reservoir of talent and expertise just waiting to be called on in the service of the Kingdom.
Lay people need to be invited and challenged, not just because in many places there is a decreasing number of priests and religious, but because the lay vocation is a true following of the Gospel message.
What we would most like to see emerging from this synod is a renewed commitment to holiness, that is, to wholeness and dialogue, in a living union with Christ, where listening is more important than speaking.
[00174-02.05] [ud001] [Original text: English]
In a Church of communion, the bishop performs an important role in constructing relations of communion between the priests, religious men and women and the laity through close dialogue, open and authentic. It is necessary to underline the urgency and the necessity of untiring dialogue. A dialogue that in this moment takes the name of hope (cf. IL 30).
This dialogue of charity with the entire people of God leads it to listen, to be informed, to meet and gather personally, to discern, in a way that the reflections, the programs and the decisions may be shared (cf. IL 14).
This means reaching the effective knowledge of all realities, of that "Church, communion of persons and of faces, where each person is unrepeatable and where no individuality is cancelled". This is where dialogue is offered, as presence, witness, authenticity, passionate and free search for liberty (cf. IL 83).
The bishop will work for dialogue with all his faithful, to appreciate, to give value to, to recognize and integrally support them on their Christian path, conforming with their own vocation and their own responsibility. A dialogue of communion, where the bishop enlivens his brothers and sisters and where the witness and the dedication of those people who, day after day, wish to commit themselves to the construction of the Kingdom, is enriched and enflamed by faith (cf. IL 106).
For the bishop, promoter and primary person responsible for new evangelization, dialogue will be a method of mutual comprehension, of evangelical witnessing, especially one of charity, in and above all. An evangelization, filled with the true charity that constitutes the foundation of dialogue, will clearly allow Christ being recognized in his disciples (cf. IL 130).
Also, all the work and efforts towards peace are an integral part of the task of evangelization. For this reason, the promotion of an authentic culture of dialogue and of peace is, at the same time, a fundamental and important objective of the pastoral action of a bishop (cfr. IL 142).
[00175-02.03] [ud002] [Original text: Spanish]
My intervention refers to what was mentioned in No. 92 of the Instrumentum Laboris, in particular with regards to the religious charisms which should characterize the episcopal ministry. In reference to this, it is important to recall that according to the statistics published in the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod regarding Consecrated Life, 82.2% of religious life is constituted by laity. In turn, Vatican Council II states: "religious congregations of laymen and laymen are thoroughly adequate for the profession of the evangelical councils" (PC, 10). Nevertheless lay religious life is not always valued and understood by the other members of the People of God, or is considered as incomplete or secondary. I believe it is important for the bishops to know the reality of the lay consecrated life, to appreciate and favor this original vocation which enriches the variety of the gifts of the Church, recognizing its "ecclesial ministry", and facilitating that which could openly involve them in the various organisms and councils, where pastoral plans are studied and decided, such as those regarding the nature and proposals of religious life on the universal and on the local levels.
As regards non ordained religious it is important for them to also know the reality of the local and diocesan Church, and for them to be placed in a creative way avoiding to move inside like a foreign body. The Union of Superiors General hopes that the special commission set up to study the special case of mixed Institutes can find as soon as possible a solution which responds to the wish shown by the Synod Fathers (VC 61).
Of course the lay congregations have challenges, particularly in a historical moment where some ask themselves if the life cycle of religious life has not reached an end. I believe we should start from a religious life which is not focused on itself but is open to the needs of the world in the perspective of a God "who wants all men to be saved" (1 Tm 2:4). It is here that we need the support and guidance of our bishops so that our religious life is not only ‘memory of the past’, but above all ‘prophecy of the future’ (NM 3).
[00043-02.03] [ud003] [Original text: Spanish]
As I read the Instrumentum Laboris, which is filled with hope, I see that it is impossible for a bishop to carry out the huge list of tasks laid before him. So I ask myself, if Vincent de Paul were alive today, what priorities would he place before bishops today? I suggest to you two:
l. Be a father and a brother to the poor in your diocese (Instrumentum Laboris, 141 ). Make the Church's preferential option for the poor shine out like a beacon of hope in your person. Go out to Jesus yourself in the person of the poor. In the day of judgment this is the principal criterion by which you, and all of us, will be assessed. "When I was hungry, you gave me to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink" (Mt 25:35). So I urge you, be a father, even a brother, to the poor. Let your diocese be a place where the Church really is the Church of the poor. Awaken the concern of its members, the wealthy especially, that they might work with you in the service of the poor. Bring together young and old, men and women, clergy and lay, rich and the poor themselves in the service of the most needy. Pray with the poor. Eat with the poor. Plan with the poor, so that they might have a voice in their own future. Celebrate the Eucharist with them. Share the word of God with them. Communicate to them your own conviction that the Kingdom of God is here and that it is for them. And since women and children are almost always the poorest of the poor, stand at their side in their struggle for basic human rights. Be a father and a brother to the poor of your diocese.
2. Be a father and brother to the priests of your diocese (Instrumentum Laboris, 86). Be able to say to them, as Jesus says to his apostles in John's l5th chapter (15: 15): "I call you friends." Most of all, listen to them. Be a minister of God's healing, encouraging word to them. Pray with them, both at the Eucharist and in other forms of quiet, meditative prayer. Eat with them. Relax with them. Offer them rich initial and ongoing formation. Plan with them. Formulate with them how the parishes of your diocese and the diocese as a whole might launch creative, effective projects in the service of the poor. Be a father and brother to your priests.
[00176-02.06] [ud004] [Original text: English]
One of the pastoral duties of the Bishop is to "foster, protect and care for religious life", with "particular concern" for Religious Institutes of Diocesan Right (IL92, VC 48).
More than half of all religious institutes of women are of diocesan right. Their number continues to grow, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They are being founded by Bishops, priests, ex-religious, ecclesial movements, confraternities and individual lay people.
They offer a rich contribution to the local work of evangelisation, often in isolated places and in dangerous situations. The concern of the Bishop for them is vital.
However, many of these Institutes experience serious difficulties. They often lack appropriate opportunities for an all-round human, spiritual, religious and pastoral formation. Frequently the sisters do not have the necessary professional training to become autonomous in the management of their works and sources of income. They may not have contracts which respect their religious duties nor even receive an adequate renumeration for their pastoral ministry. These situations threaten the religious life and effective apostolic activities of the Institutes, and deserve the compassion and practical help of the Bishop.
The Bishop is also responsible for the approbation of new institutes in his diocese (cf.MR 51). There are already over 3,000 religious Institutes of women. Many are very small, some no longer viable, some are ill-defined. Before new ones are approved, a careful discernment is necessary. Perhaps thought could be given to the development of a supra-diocesan structure, which, while respecting the rights of the Local Bishop, could give practical advice on these initiatives, and so assist in this discernment.
[00177-02.04] [ud005] [Original text: English]
Paragraphs 14, 41 and 46 of Instrumentum Laboris strongly underline the responsibility of the bishop as bearer of the Word of God. This role is currently very important and designates an important task. In fact, a growing number of Christians today opens the Scriptures without having the means of an authentic Christian reading. Some approach the text exclusively as a critical problem, and never know it as the Word of God. Others approach it from an emotional and projection point of view which dangerously impoverishes the biblical message. In these conditions, it becomes necessary more than ever for the episcopal ministry to be concerned about opening for the baptised the ways of a plenary reading of the Word of God, favouring the formation of solid exegetes, carrying out in the dioceses a teaching of the lectio divina, since they are, according to the example of the Fathers of the Church, the ones who break the bread of the Word of God.
[00178-02.02] [ud006] [Original text: French]
The ministry of the Apostles and of their successors, the Bishops, to whom are added priests and deacons, extends the one of Christ "consecrated and sent by the Father" (Jn 10:35), the "good shepherd who offers his life for his flock".
The aim of this consecration and of this mission is to make all Christians a priestly people: the ministerial priesthood taken on by the Bishops, priests and deacons is therefore at the service of the common priesthood for all those baptised.
The Directory Ecclesiae Imago speaks of the Bishop as he who is the "Father of the Church, since he is the minister of the supernatural birth of Christians". That is why the Bishop is for the laity the father of the Family Church of God.
In this Family Church of God, the laity will have their well defined place, as in our African families where each one, knowing his place and keeping it, feels recognized, respected and loved.
For a fresh and healthy collaboration, an adequate formation of lay faithful is imposed.
This formation will be done in schools and biblical and pastoral formation centres. (The example of the Catholic University of Africa from the West to Abidjan the Ivory Coast). Or in the Catholic Universities in broader areas (for example the Catholic University of Abidjan-Bingerville) for human sciences (Psychology, Sociology, etc.) and moral sciences for future spouses, civil law and canon law, ecclesiology or theology on the Church: its hierarchy, its structures, its functioning. The people of God need to know what the specificity of the Catholic Church does in relation to other religious confessions and State institutions in which the lay faithful live in order to avoid amalgams which are often unfortunate. It would be urgent to educate young people, the future of the Church, to this hierarchical culture of the Church.
Permeated with the different forms of intellectual, moral and spiritual knowledge, the lay faithful together with the Bishop can validly play their role as informed collaborators so that the kingdom of God reaches all dioceses.
[00179-02.02] [ud007] [Original text: French]
In a society which according to sociologists, newly feels the lack of a father figure, we priests have a need of apostolic authority that combines the tenderness of the mother and the integrity of the father in the gift of themselves with the Gospel, as we remember the experience of Saint Paul (cfr. 1 Ts 2:5-9).
In the IL we remember that the Bishop must be father, brother and friend to his priests (nn. 86-88). Numbers 38-40 affirm that the Most Holy Trinity is the source which models their identity, their being, their mission and their relations.
The Bishop, reflection of the Father
The mission of the Bishop will consist in continuously provoking his priests through the Gospel so that they will be witnesses of truth, hope and life.
His paternal authority will need to combine the good of the People of God with the development of the vocation and the gifts of every priest. A father watches over the growth of his children and encourages them. He protects them from dangers. He opens them to horizons and, when the moment arises, he corrects them because he starts them off towards the fullness of their vocation. It is his task to promote the spiritual life of the priesthood, integrating the different charisms and spiritual itineraries, as remembered by the Pontifical Magisterium.
The Bishop, the reflection of the First Born
The novelty of the brotherhood between Bishops and priests, which contemplate sacramental dimensions, must unfold, according to my beliefs, into the following areas:
Together, Bishops and priests are pushed to walk as the disciples of He who is the Word made flesh, the liberate Truth. We are brothers in the discipleship.
Together we must listen to the cry of humanity, the poor in particular, as their hopes and legitimate struggles, to receive and discern the word that God reveals to us in history.
Together, without this to weaken the apostolic authority, we have been called to discern the paths of the Creator Spirit in the signs of the times, they are these positives or negatives. Our pastoral action must give birth to hearing and contemplation.
The Bishop in the communion of the Spirit
Christ has called his disciples friends. Friendship implies presence, nearness, intimacy, reciprocity, communion and a profound chastity of the heart.
Reciprocity implies giving and receiving. Only he who is poor and humble may enrich the other and let themselves be made rich.
Chastity of heart avoids that the authority may slip into authoritarianism and the communion convert in dangerous uniformity.
[00180-02.06] [ud008] [Original text: Spanish]
Instrumentum laboris talks of a "pastoral style confirmed by life" where "the Bishop is to be faithful to his mission, remembering that his personal resposability as Shepherd is shared by the lay faithful in virtue of their Baptism, by those in sacred orders and by others specially consacrated through the evangelical counsels, each in his own way" (No. 119). With these words, in my understanding, a pastoral style of the bishop deeply marked by co-responsability is clearly pointed out. Religious life in Europe notices in this environment and in this pastoral style the most and the least stimulus for the task of evangelization and bearing witness che is its own and for its integration in the life of the local Church, with the whole People of God, loved and guided by his pastors. Co-responsability, as making concrete a "pastoral style confirmed by life", which one must also wish for to be "affective and effective", forms the adequate style in current times, when peoples, as persons and also as members of the Church, acquire with the whole of society higher levels of development, culture and forms of knowledge, and they feel for this reason urged to desire greater responsability in everything which concerns them from a social and religious point of view. Hence we notice a good coincidence among the aspirations of many towards a responsible protagonism and ecclesial will of growing co-responsability of all memebers of the Church. When among the religious men and women of Europe a plan is drawn up on how to develop an ecclesial presence, it implies the same awareness which strongly emerges today. And I would dare point out that it is in female religious life that, in a peculiar way, this awareness is intertwined with the will of religious women to be present in many ecclesial activities - many in a silent way, but some are also characterized by a generous and even risky evangelical audacity. Working along the lines of the aforementioned co-resposability is in addition equivalent to giving real life to the Pauline image of the Church as a body, so intuitive, concrete and at the same time beautiful, whose head is Christ, the Lord. The life of the body, its good health, lies in the strength and robustness of each of its members, each one erercising its function and all being articulate among themselves in a vital way. The circumstances of the present time, known even too well by everybody, and the faithfulness to the Gospel which has been sent down to us by apostolic Tradition, to proclaim it the life and health of each man and woman, require joint co-responsible action from all members of the Church, each "in his and her own way", according to the IL. Specifying to respect the special features of each person does not intend to reduce the principle which supports it: "Priests, religious and laity are not simply "assistants" of the Bishop but his "collaborators" (No. 119).
[00181-02.03] [ud009] [Original text: Spanish]
The Holy Father has continually given exceptional prominence to the dignity of women recognizing their "feminine genius" for the creation of a more just world. We women religious today form a tremendous spiritual and apostolic force in the Church. Our access to information and education has given us more opportunities to participate in the life and mission of the Church and the world in this new millennium. Women religious need to be seen and accepted as more than just the work force in the Church.
The Church of the third millennium will pulsate with new vigor and hope if she looks at herself through the eyes of women.
Consciously recognize and promote the feminine face of communion, collegiality, and dialogue.
Formation of priests must address the issue of fostering collegial relationship with women in the Church. Where there is domination and control, no communion is possible.
Deeply sensitivity to the plight of women, what old structures are we willing to let go? What new structures are we willing to create to insure the empowerment of women in the Church?
We are happy to spend ourselves in the service of the Church even in the most difficult situations for we believe that the feminine creative power of the Spirit is at work within us urging us to bring new life and hope to our world. May our Mother Church continue to find concrete expressions of trusting her daughters for the empowerment of the whole Church.
[00182-02.05] [ud010] [Original text: English]
The Instrumentum laboris says that, to a world that is suffering from lack of confidence and even desperation, the Church offers the message of Christ "based on the certainty of faith" (no. 17). It is very important that the Bishops consider this sentence as fundamental, if they want to generate hope in our secularized world.
History proved the splendour of the Church. The number of her members grew impressively. Christians felt secure and protected by a Church that catered for their lives from the cradle to the tomb, guaranteeing eternal salvation. Many thought that things will remain the same for ever. But things, in fact, began to change. The sciences brought about the ‘end of all certainties’. Non-realists, critical realists, positivists, relativists and liberal pluralists all gave their share to make Christian religious language seem bare from its truth contents. For many Christian teaching became more exhortative and less doctrinal as the process accelerated. Many in the Church, rightly, rejected triumphalism, but very mistakenly with it they rejected also the certainty of faith. No wonder that today we have large sectors of the People of God disoriented, mainly because of public dissent by some theologians. They are asking to be given back the certainty of faith.
More frustrating is the position of catechists, because they are having pressures to give open-ended formation devoid of doctrinal basis. The same applies to Catholic Schools. To be hope for the world the Church has to follow her divine Founder. Christ said: "I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33). Of course this is no triumphalism on the part of Jesus but a sure basis for the certainty of faith. When we select what to teach, we jeopardize the message.
It should be a certainty ‘for today’. Development of doctrine is no excuse for not delivering the certainty of faith. The certainty of faith has to do with revealed truth, while development of doctrine has to do with the on-going research on the explication of these truths. Since the Church had to be "salt of the earth" and "light of the world" (Mt 5:13 ff) for mankind of all times and everywhere, the certainty of her teaching does not depend on the whims of some theologian or sociological research, but on the word of her Founder.
The transmission of the certainty of faith is not essentially an intellectual exercise. In fact, only saints can transmit this certainty, because they live what they preach. The Bishops should insist on the certainty of revealed truths, using the appropriate language that reflects the latest hermeneutics of language and doctrine, always in line with the Magisterium.
[00183-02.04] [ud011] [Original text: English]
1. I speak of my experience in the Church--for 30 years I have been responsible for a part of the social pastoral of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro (street children and disadvantaged youth). Close to these youths one loses sight of the richest part of humanity and loses the capacity for compassion and solidarity. Christ is there. The most divine nature of humanity is kept in the hearts of these children. Here the Church fulfills its prophetic task, next to many who are born in the mangers of the streets of the world. It is important to surpass the dichotomy between assistance and social change, it is necessary to convert the world.
Man and his salvation are integral parts of the design of God. It is not possible anymore to announce His Name without proclaiming the human vocation. And each one must have a reason for happiness and salvation for the other.
2. We ask the Bishops to help us to discover and to live the meaning of the Church, the visible presence of Christ, the conqueror of death and of sin. The Church must be a living reality, beyond human structures and projects--a unique mystery of communion. The ecclesiology of Lumen gentium is more than ever actual and requires further deepening. We need bishops who are authentic educators of faith.
3. The Bishops should know that they are not alone. They can rely upon their faithful in the wholeness of communion. At the wedding in Canaan, Mary was able to grasp the needs of the people and point them out to Jesus. Mary Magdalen, in listening to the voice of the resurrected, was able to identify the Lord and she was the announcer of his victory. We women do not want the priesthood, nor do we claim a conflict of power. We would like to offer our sensitivity and to experience the adventure of communion, enriching the common mission of the Church, of which the Bishops, with the Holy Father, are the Teachers, the Priests, and the Pastors.
[00196-02.04] [ud012] [Original text: Italian]
As it has been noted several times, the points 84 and 85 of Instrumentum Laboris do not mention Eastern Catholic Churches within the framework of the Universal Church. As a result, the whole vision seemed to be oversimplified with regard to the present-day situation in the Church. The problem of a place of Eastern Catholic Churches within the Universal Church is obviously not a simple one, and we have to pray the Lord more in searching for a clear and non-ambiguous understanding. This question is, however, extremely important for the laity of our Church. Questions of this kind are better solved in the Synodal halls than by demagogues on the street. I appeal to the most venerable Members of the present Synod to make further steps toward its consistent clarification. The theological basis for this has been succinctly formulated in the point 84 of Instrumentum Laboris: "...Each ought to feel 'at home' in the Church where the Eucharist is celebrated". I often observe that Orthodox Fullness is still missing a key element of a structure of the UniversaI Church, that is authority of the Holy Father. Having never confessed to it, Orthodoxy is sometimes yearning for somebody above the present structure who can relieve certain tensions within it. Following the Synodal discussions, I have an impression that Catholicism, in its turn, is increasingly missing the other key element of the Universal Church (as far as I understand it), that is collegiality, or synodality in the decision-making process. There is nothing pessimistic in this trend. On the contrary, such a convergence is a sign of mutual yearning of Christians for unity within the Universal Church with its inter-complementary nature. Thus, togetherness of Bishops is a sign of hope of the world.
[00195-02.06] [ud013] [Original text: English]
The following Fathers intervened:
Below are the summaries of the interventions:
Regarding the Instrumentum Laboris, we find it an enriching spiritual reading on the life and ministry of bishops. We are grateful to those who put a lot of love and spirituality into the preparation of the document.
We look forward to even fuller treatment of the various aspects of the bishop's life that will come out from the hands of the Holy Father. This will be a kind of vademecum in the hands of each bishop.
This synod is particularly instructive for us bishops from Myanmar. In this regard, we are thankful to the Federation of the Asian Bishops' Conferences for its effort to help bishops become effective leaders by giving leadership training to newly ordained bishops. In our opinion, this practice should be continued and supported.
In the same vein, we deem it beneficial to bishops-elect and their future dioceses if the Holy See can gather them in Rome or some other place to give them a few months of training and orientation between their election and ordination.
With this set up assured, where plans of previous bishops and their pastoral councils will continue to be implemented, it is perhaps possible to purpose setting definite terms of office for bishops. A term of ten or fifteen years, renewable one more time, would give the new bishop a clear idea of where he stands at the beginning of his ministry and allow him to make plans accordingly. He can decide to give his best during those years and to ensure that during his term he really accomplishes something. Knowing that he will have to give way to another eventually, he can also be more circumspect in his lifestyle and habit of work. It is important, we think, that a man give way to another while he can still be active in another post. If one stays too long in one post and to an advanced age one can come to a mental stage where moving out become most difficult even though giving way is the obvious course of action. Immense harm can thus be done.
As for the transfers of the Bishops from one diocese to another it no doubt creates a lot of difficulties: a bishop is the leader not only of pastoral side but he leads in educational and other developing programs.
Serious thoughts be given before the transfer of any bishop to other dioceses.
[00153-02.05] [in127] [Original text: English]
In a country of sages and rishis like India, the image of the bishop as a person of the Spirit and as a man of God deeply rooted in God-experience is most appropriate for his episcopal ministry. The bishop will always be as one who serves and gives his life for others for which Jesus the Supreme Guru is both the model and the source. To live this grace of episcopal ministry calls for a spirituality of communion on the part of the Bishop. The foundation and springs of this communion lie in the Bishop's intimate and sustained communion with the Triune God in daily prayer, celebration of sacraments especially Eucharist which he celebrates for his people The sacrament of reconciliation has a significant pace in the life of holiness of the bishop. He promotes its practice among his priests and the faithful. To meditate on the Word of God in daily prayer, in the liturgy of the hours and to break the Word of Life for his flock are demands of holiness of the bishop.
The foundational communion with the Triune God flows into communion with his brother bishops in the region and in the ecclesiastical province or national and continental bishops bodies and is organically linked to the universal college of bishops in communion with the successor of Peter.
Bishop as the chief pastor of the particular Church lives the spiritual communion concretely in his loving, fatherly relationship with his priests. He inspires and guides the presbyterate by empathetic listening and ready availability. He has loving relationship to those who feel lonely or abandoned or in a situation of crisis. He also confronts and corrects them with a loving care showing genuine respect for them. Bishop shows the same quality of fatherly relationships to his seminarians giving them encouragement and guidance. He supports and guides the work of the seminary in his diocese or region with adequate attention.
Promotion of vocations to priesthood and care for the integral formation of the future priest is an important task.
Bishop cares for communion with the religious respecting their charism while calling them to work for the mission of Christ in the diocese for the effective witness and service.
Equally important is the communion of the bishop with the lay faithful. He should be a model of holiness to his people, and a father to them in their daily struggles. The holiness of the Bishop is intimately linked to the triple function of leading, sanctifying and teaching. He follows the footsteps of the Chief Shepherd in fulfillment of his triple ministry. In the spirit of communion he strives to build up the Church as a servant of the gospel for the hope of the world.
[00154-02.03] [in131] [Original text: English]
The munus docendi entrusted to the Bishop is a service for the Gospel and for Hope. Hope has a face and a name: Jesus Christ, God-with-us. A world without God is a world without Hope. Being at the service of Hope means to proclaim God with His human face, with the face of Christ. The world thirsts for knowledge, not for our ecclesial problems, but the fire that Jesus brought to the earth (Lk 12:50). Only if we have become contemporary with Christ and the fire is kindled in us, the proclaimed Gospel will touch upon the hearts of our contemporaries. This proclamation requires the courage of truth and the disposition to suffer for the truth (cf. 1 Thes 2:2). To enter the apostolic succession also implies entering this battle for the Gospel. In our agnostic and atheistic culture, the Bishop, teacher of the faith, is called to discernment of the spirits and of the signs of the time. The problem central to our time is the emptying of the historical figure of Jesus Christ. An impoverished Jesus cannot be the sole Savior and Mediator, the God-with-us: thus, Jesus is substituted with the idea of the "values of the kingdom" and becomes a vain hope. We must clearly turn back to the Jesus in the Gospel, since He alone is also the true historical Jesus (cf. Jn 6:68). If the Bishops have the courage to judge and to decide with authority about this battle for the Gospel, the so hoped for decentralization is automatically achieved. This does not mean making decisions on theological questions by the specialists, but the recognition of the baptismal faith, the foundation of every theology. Faith is the true treasure of the Church (cf. Mt 13:45 et seg.).
[00173-02.03] [in145] [Original text: Italian]
Ms Theresa EE-CHOI, O.C.D.S., Member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (Malaysia).
Being Bishop of the Local Church.
The Church in Korea has grown under violent persecutions.
Five points every Bishop should reflect upon:
1. We are called to be successors of the apostles and we are.
2. No one can give what he does not have.
3. More joy in giving than in receiving.
4. Without me you can do nothing.
5. Do not fear, small flock.
[00155-02.03] [in129] [Original text: plurilingual]
The great spreading of agencies for assistance, active in many nations and often competing among themselves, constitutes a strong objectivization of their work. The charitable institutions hire specialists, elaborate programs, aim for projects. Sources of non-ecclesial funding involve the exclusion of the pastoral and spiritual scopes and make them limit themselves to the social dimension of help. The fiscal legislation and controlling the media urge using all persons and all the means offered by the market.
This tendency is not completely unworthy per se; in fact, it certainly reinforces the efficacy of assistance given by the Catholic Church and gives it a positive public resonance. However, without a doubt it also contributes to its secularization. Thus, de facto, today many programs for Christian charity often interchange with those of the "Red Cross" or of the "United Nations"; Christian management does not influence their goals.
Consequently, some ecclesial institutions only see themselves as humanitarian and philanthropic agencies. They are not silent about wanting to free themselves from the ecclesial bond, seen as an ideological burden that obstructs their own tenacity and independence. They would like to be like any other non-government agency (NGO) and more like a political power.
This loss of the ecclesial identity leads to a serious reduction. We know that ecclesiology questions itself on the fundamental ecclesial functions. Therefore it mentions the terna MARTYRIA, LEITOURGIA and DIAKONIA. It explains that these three areas are distinct, but in the concrete life of the Church, they cannot be practiced as if running on parallel courses.
However, more serious is a secularization of this type, since it would lose sight of Jesus, the Biblical model of every form of love for others. When the Lord healed the sick and fed the hungry, His action always became an experience of the presence of the Kingdom of God. Thus, even today, charitable activity supports in an irreplaceable way the credibility of the ecclesial mission.
Therefore the Bishop, guarantor of this mission and its primary agent, is responsible for all the charitable services, in his diocese and in the national area, which he cannot put off.
[00159-02.02] [in133] [Original text: Italian]
The Theme of this Ordinary Synod: THE BISHOP: SERVANT OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE HOPE OF THE WORLD, is timely and especially so at this time in the life of the Church. It focuses our attention on what a Bishop is and what is expected of him not only as a Member of the College of Bishops but also and especially his relationship to God and his People.
As a College, under the Bishop of Rome, it has an obligation to further the Kingdom of God in this World. We are heralds of the Good News to the whole World. But this can only be possible if we are holy, sincere, committed and dedicated shepherds of the Lord. The Spiritual Life of the Bishop cannot be overemphasized.
The College of Bishops ,with the Supreme Pontiff as Head, has the co-responsibility to shepherd the Universal Church. The concerns of each Local church should be the concerns of all Local Churches hence we must as a College do all we can to further the Kingdom of Christ in the World. The sufferings and joys of any and all Local Churches must be of mutual concern. By our solicitude for each Local Church we will be able in tangible ways to express the presence of Christ among us as a saving reality.
The Central Administration of the Church should at all times be concerned about each Local Church with its diversity and needs in relationship to the Universal Church. We live in and are of a Church that embraces peoples of all races, cultures and nations and are diverse in very many ways. Those who set priorities and make decisions that affect the Church Universal, all over the World should always and at all times be aware of and sensitive to the peculiar situations each Local Church is living. On the other hand the Local Churches should be sensitive to the necessity of preserving the Unity of the Universal Church. Dialog and listening to each other is important. So also is: Co-operation, Collaboration and Communication among the Local Churches on the one hand and the Universal Church on the other.
All Bishops, being Members of the College of Bishops, under the Bishop of Rome the Successor of St. Peter as its Head, have a co-responsibility for the Universal Church - that the mission of Christ entrusted to the Apostles two thousand years ago will continue to be proclaimed and bringing the World into the Kingdom of God. It is necessary that those Local Churches that have more material things should share with those who do not have.
Finally we look up to this Synod to come up with a blueprint that will map our the way we as shepherds all lead our flock during the 21st Century.
[00157-02.05] [in1131] [Original text: English]
The Instrumentum Laboris many times mentions the image of the Good Shepherd. It is the image the Bishop depicts best and which has inspired many Bishops throughout the centuries; it recalls a duty which goes beyond "giving life". In what way "giving life"?
1. Even during the past century, many Bishops spilt their blood by being faithful to Christ. Others, even if not reaching martyrdom, have also paid a dear price for their fidelity. Some of these last ones are present in the Synod Hall today. However, the path of martyrdom is still exceptional.
b. But the "Bonus Pastor dat vitam pro ovibus suis" is valid for us all, as every Bishop must give life giving entirely of himself every day: heart, mind, energies and suffering for the good of the faithful entrusted to his pastoral care. And today, much is asked of the Bishop:
1. A Bishop must, first of all, be conscious of the challenges that today’s de-Christianized society bears with it and have the courage to face them with fidelity and coherence, all to be a witness of Hope.
A Bishop must be a guide, a spiritual leader, who indicates the path to be trodden with words and with witness.
2. A true sower of Hope, only the Bishop who dedicates special attention to his clergy, establishing a cordial, direct, simple relation of faith and trust.
The Bishop must be close to his priests, he must be a father that educates, encourages, guides and corrects them, but he must also be an older brother and a friend.
3. To be an effective witness of Hope, the Bishop must incite collaboration around his figure. Dialogue is important; it is important that the Bishop be accompanied in elaborating the decisions and he must know how to listen, but he must be the one to decide and decide according to his conscience, in the full truth and liberty before God and not based on the numeric weight of his councilors.
4. These days we have spoken about the various aspects of collegiality. I would like to point one out on the local level: it might prove pastorally efficacious for the Metropolitan to exercise a more incisive role, promoting greater collegiality at the local level among the voting Bishops, with intense pastoral coordination. Often, the dispositions of the Code about the Metropolitans are not followed and his role has become insignificant.
The closeness and the greater affinity of the same metropolitan with the ecclesial communities may simplify the common pastoral initiatives.
Many problems weigh upon a Bishop. Because of this, he must take care of cultivating a lifestyle that favors serenity and equilibrium, so that goodness, comprehension, hope and encouragement may be found in him and that he may be a "good shepherd" that infuses Hope.
[00164-02.03] [in137] [Original text: Italian]
Having recalled the "mission" of the Eastern Churches in communion with the See of Rome to inform the Latin Churches on the spiritual patrimony of the Byzantine tradition, we should reflect upon a few typical elements that contribute to the identity of the Bishop. The first is the primordial qualification as "man of the Holy Spirit", therefore his function is fundamentally one of spiritual guide for the clergy and the faithful. Then, referring to the Petrine texts, we underline the communion with the Successor of Peter as a guarantee of unity in the Church, immediately adding the need for synodality, not as much functional for juridical and organizational needs, but as the "place" to look for and do God’s Will. The value of synodality is also applied in the process of identification and maturity of the Bishop himself: "I Bishop in the stable and ordinary confrontation with my brothers, mature in my episcopal identity and express it". To found once again the need for synodality, we must recall the common tradition of the Church of the East and of the West before the divisions. And we might add - not secondary - the ecumenical preoccupation "if we are convinced that unitatis redintegratio is, in this case, sic et simpliciter, communionis redintegratio", thereby ordinary synodal life becomes a credible sign of an authentic ecumenical dialogue with the Apostolic Eastern and Orthodox Churches. A reflection should also be reserved for the liturgical dimension of the Bishop and to the need for his emphatization within this area inasmuch as Sacerdos Magnus. To conclude with the many centuries of experience of the Eastern Churches in a continuous condition of complexity, pluri-ethnicity and pluri-confessionality.
[00158-02.03] [in132] [Original text: Italian]
A distinctive feature of people in secularized cultures is their insistence on the incomplete, unfinished nature of all reality. There are endless conversations, perpetual possibilities, which could go on boundlessly without meaning. All of us are part of a globalized culture that is intolerant of clear endings. We resonate with putting off indefinitely any finality. Consequently, a benign hopelessness haunts many people today. Ambivalence seems their inescapable conundrum.
This omnipresent ambivalence has immense implications for the formation of the Christfideles Laici in hope. Seeing how things are in today' s world, one wonders how poor men and women can still believe that tomorrow will be better. Yet hope is an incomprehensible miracle planted in the human heart and the greatest miracle of God's grace. The hope in the heart of the bishop is an incredible hope. He knows that God our Savior "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:3). He therefore hopes that all people will be saved in Christ. The bishop entrusts his people in hope to the communion of saints and to their intercessory prayer.
The day comes in the bishop's ministry when patrons and saints will no longer suffice. Every bishop rises in hope to the one of incomparable holiness, to Holy Mary, the Mother of the Church. He asks her to embrace in her maternal care the whole of mankind, including all the people of his own diocese.
Final1y, the hope of Jesus the Good Shepherd alone illumines the innermost content of the bishop's hope. Jesus goes looking for the one sheep that is lost. The ninety-nine righteous who have remained in faith and love are left standing. But for the one lost, the sinner, the heart of Jesus if filled with anxiety and hope. In the heart of God we find the trembling and dread of hope. For the heart of Jesus is seized by the fear of having to reject someone in their freedom.
The world needs lay confessors of heroic hope formed after the heart of Jesus. I urge the Synod to recommend that the Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father ask the bishops to be more aware of lay people with reputations of heroic holiness in their dioceses and that they initiate the canonical investigation leading to their canonization.
[00161-02.04] [in135] [Original text: English]
With the members of the Church-Family of God, the bishops are called to be the witnesses of the Gospel in the world. On fact, evangelization is the great consignment Christ left to His disciples before ascending towards God, His Father, the day of the Ascension. To evangelize is not only, nor above all, preaching. It is bearing witness for one’s entire life. It is not, first of all, teaching but helping people to live according to the Spirit of the Gospel. Thus, through our actions and our sharing of life, we can help the non-Christians change their life to live according to the Gospel.
An analysis of the situation in our country and in the world, following the many rebel attacks we have gone through from September 2000 to March 2001, made feelings of compassion emerge in our hearts as shepherds, facing the suffering of the many displaced and refugee persons, the lack of faith of many Christians, the so serious violence perpetrated by the authorities, the great thirst for money and the lack of professional honesty and conscience of many compatriots. Jesus the Good Shepherd was very sensitive to the misery of Man.
Our communities supported by their pastors:
-They must be communities that pray. Days for prayer have been organized. We have invited the Christians to pray intensely, to raise their eyes and their hands to the Lord, who is our shield. Convinced that if God does not watch over our cities and our country, it is vain for the city guards and the soldiers to watch over our frontiers.
-They must learn to reflect and act concretely to help those who suffer and bring them a small bit of Hope; to be open towards everything and become places where the small ones are welcomed, where the poor and illiterate have the word, the displaced are among their own, the refugees considered as brothers; communities committed among them to transform them. In this framework, the OCPH, the Caritas in Guinea was created.
Concluding, the painful events that we have been subjected to have led us to come to partnerships with many organizations. While truly thanking our benefactors for the support received, we hope for an evolution in the mentalities within the partnership. The ecclesial communion should play a more important role in the evolution of mentalities, to reach a partnership where the poor are listened to and respected.
[00165-02.03] [in138] [Original text: French]
With the worsening of the situation of the global economy after September 11th 2001, we can foresee an increase in unemployment, with dramatic social consequences. Facing this prospect, the Bishop, father and defender of the poor, should promote with greater commitment and productivity (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 50) efficacious and modern works to reduce the nefarious consequences of globalization inspired by unchained liberalism, as well as the new economic crisis that is falling upon humanity. If the Bishop wishes to be the icon of Christ the Good Shepherd, he can but notice the signs of growing mistrust and the cries of desperation present in today’s world. Therefore, the medicine of consolation and hope should not be lacking, proper to the "Caritas Pastoralis", whose works must make evident "the heart of God" to his flock. From here stems the need to put in act in every diocese those forms of micro-credit, efficacious in stemming the growth of the many "Lazzari" reduced to misery. The effective experience made by the economist from Bangladesh, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the well-known "Grameen Bank" (village bank) should encourage the local Caritas to convince themselves of the extreme urgency and need to reduce the wound of extreme misery by helping the poorest among the poor, to allow them to come out of their poverty through their own means, recalling what the Servant of God, Theresa of Calcutta, used to say: "Trust in the poor: they have so little, but they know how to do so much".
[00156-02.03] [in130] [Original text: Italian]
The sixth briefing for the language groups will take place on Monday, 8 October 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 sixth pool for the Synod Hall will be formed for the opening prayer of the Eleventh General Congregation of Monday morning, 8 October 2001.
The list for registration to the pool is available to the editors at the Information and Accreditation Office of the Holy See Press Office (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. 14, regarding the works of the Eleventh General Congregation of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of Monday morning 8 October 2001 will be available to the accredited journalists at the end of the Assembly.
Bulletin Synodus Episcoporum - X Ordinary
General Assembly - 2001