Commissione per l'informazione
"Episcopus Minister Evangelii Iesu Christi propter Spem Mundi"
Il Bollettino del Sinodo dei Vescovi è soltanto uno strumento di lavoro ad uso giornalistico.
02 - 29.09.2001
30 septembris - Die Dominica
1 octobris - Feria II
2 octobris - Feria III
3 octobris - Feria IV
4 octobris - Feria V
5 octobris - Feria VI
6 octobris - Sabbato
7 octobris - Die Dominica
8 octobris - Feria II
9 octobris - Feria III
10 octobris - Feria VI
11 octobris - Feria V
12 octobris - Feria VI
13 octobris - Sabbato
14 octobris - Die Dominica
15 octobris - Feria II
16 octobris - Feria III
17 octobris - Feria IV
18 octobris - Feria V
19 octobris - Feria VI
20 octobris - Sabbato
21 octobris - Die Dominica
22 octobris - Feria II
23 octobris - Feria III
24 octobris - Feria IV
Expensio modorum collectivorum circa Propositiones a Relatore Generali peragitur una cum Secretario Speciali et Relatoribus Circulorum
25 octobris - Feria V
Expensio modorum collectivorum circa Propositiones a Relatore Generali peragitur una cum Secretario Speciali et Relatoribus Circulorum
Expensio modorum collectivorum circa Propositiones a Relatore Generali peragitur una cum Secretario Speciali et Relatoribus Circulorum
26 octobris - Feria VI
27 octobris - Sabbato
Convivium cum Sancto Patre
E Civitate Vaticana die 11 maii 2001
Jan P. Card. Schotte, C.I.C.M.
00002-07.02] [NNNNN] [Testo originale: latino]
The Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution established by Pope Paul VI, 15 September 1965, in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the positive spirit engendered by the conciliar experience.
Literally speaking the word "Synod", derived from two Greek words syn meaning "together" and hodos meaning "road" or "way", means a "coming together". A Synod is a religious meeting or assembly at which bishops, gathered around and with the Holy Father, have opportunity to interact with each other and to share information and experiences, in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application. The Synod, generally speaking, can be defined as an assembly of bishops representing the Catholic episcopate, having the task of helping the Pope in the governing of the universal Church by rendering their counsel. Pope John Paul II has referred to the Synod as "a particularly fruitful expression and instrument of the collegiality of bishops" (Speech to the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, 30 April 1983: L’Osservatore Romano, 1 May 1983).
Even before the Second Vatican Council the idea was growing for a structure which might provide the bishops with the means to assist the Pope, in some manner to be determined, in his governing of the universal Church.
His Eminence, Silvio Cardinal Oddi, then Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in the United Arab Republic (Egypt), on 5 November 1959, made a proposal to establish a central governing body of the Church or, to use his words, "a consultative body". He stated: "From many parts of the world there come complaints that the Church does not have a permanent consultative body, apart from the Roman congregations. Therefore, a kind of ‘Council in miniature’ should be established and include persons from the Church worldwide who would meet periodically, even once a year, to discuss major concerns and to suggest possible new paths in the workings of the Church. This body would extend over the whole Church as the episcopal conferences bring together all or part of the hierarchy of a country or countries. Other bodies, like C.E.L.AM (the Latin American Episcopal Council), for example, extends its activity for the benefit of the whole continent".
On 22 December 1959, His Eminence, Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink, Archbishop of Utrecht, wrote: "In clear terms the Council proclaims that the government of the universal Church is by right exercised by the college of bishops with the Pope as its head. From here it follows that, in one sense, the care of the universal Church is the responsibility of every bishop taken singularly, and also, in another sense, that all bishops participate in the governing of the Church worldwide. This can be done not only in calling an ecumenical council, but also in the creation of new institutions. Perhaps some permanent council of specialized bishops, chosen from the Church, could be given the charge of a legislative function in union with the Supreme Pontiff and the cardinals of the Roman Curia. The Roman Congregations would then maintain only a consultative and executive power".
However, it was Pope Paul VI who gave force to these ideas, while he was still Archbishop of Milan. In a talk commemorating the death of Pope John XXIII, he made reference to an "ongoing collaboration of the episcopate that is not yet in effect, which would remain personal and in union, but given the responsibility of governing the whole Church". After his election as Pope he kept returning to the concept of collaboration within the episcopal body (the bishops in union with the successor of Saint Peter), in the responsibility for the government of the universal Church, in a talk he gave to the Roman Curia (21 September 1963), at the opening of the second session of the Second Vatican Council (29 September 1963) and again at its closing (4 December 1963).
At the conclusion of a discourse beginning the last session of the Council (14 September 1965), Pope Paul VI himself made public his intention to establish the Synod of Bishops in the following words: "The advanced information that We Ourselves are happy to share with you is that we intend to give you some institution, called for by this Council, a ‘Synod of Bishops’, which will be made up of bishops nominated for the most part by the Episcopal Conferences with our approval and called by the Pope according to the needs of the Church, for his consultation and collaboration, when for the well-being of the Church it might seem to him opportune.
It goes without saying that this collaboration of the episcopate ought to bring the greatest joy to the Holy See and to the whole Church. In a particular way it will serve a useful purpose in the daily work of the Roman Curia, to which we owe so much recognition for its most valuable help, and for which, as bishops in their diocese, We also have permanent need in Our apostolic concerns. News and norms will be made known to this assembly as soon as possible. We did not wish to deprive Ourselves of the honor and pleasure of making you aware of this brief communication so as to personally bear witness once more to Our trust, esteem and fraternity. We place this beautiful and promising innovation under the protection of Mary, the Mother of God".
On the next day, 15 September 1965 at the beginning of the 128th General Assembly, the then Bishop Pericle Felici, General Secretary of the Council, promulgated the Motu Proprio Apostolica sollicitudo with which the Synod of Bishops was officially instituted.
So as to fulfill its mission, the Synod of Bishops works according to a methodology based on collegiality, a concept which characterizes every stage of the Synod process from the first steps of preparation to the conclusions reached in each Synodal assembly. Briefly stated, the method of work alternates between analysis and synthesis, in consulting interested parties and decisions being made by competent authorities, according to a dynamic of feed-back which permits the continual verification of results and the making of new proposals. Each part of this process takes place within the climate of collegial communion.
Already in the preparatory stage, the topic of the Synodal assembly is the result of collegiality. The first official step in the process is to consult the Patriarchates, Episcopal Conferences, department heads of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General for suggestions on possible topics for a Synod. Recently, in ordinary general assemblies this consultation has been anticipated by an informal solicitation of the Synod Fathers in the closing days of the Synodal assembly for their preference on a matter. However, in both cases the bishops are asked to keep in mind the following criteria:
The suggestions on a topic - which must include the reasons for such choice - are classified, analyzed and studied during a meeting of the Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. Afterwards, the Council submits the meeting’s results, together with pertinent recommendations, to the Holy Father who makes the final decision on the topic for treatment in the Synodal assembly.
At the next meeting, the Council prepares an outline for developing and presenting the Synod topic in the document called the Lineamenta. The drafting of this document represents the combined work of the Council members, theologians who have a certain expertise in the material to be treated in the Synodal assembly, and the staff of the General Secretariat who coordinate the various efforts. After studying the text and making the necessary revisions, the Council drafts a final version which is submitted to the Holy Father for his approval. The document is then translated into the world’s major languages and sent to the Church’s episcopate for the purpose of generating at the local level study, discussion and prayer concerning the Synod topic.
The Lineamenta (from the Latin word meaning "outline") is by its nature very broad in scope and is meant to elicit a broad range of observations and reactions. Though the first and authoritative recipients of the Lineamenta are obviously the bishops and the Episcopal Conferences, they have full liberty to broaden their basis of consultation. After gathering and summarizing suggestions, reactions and responses to the various aspects of the Lineamenta topic, the bishops prepare a report or official response to the questions proposed in the document, which is then sent to the General Secretariat by a certain date.
After having received the above material, the Council of the General Secretariat, always with the help of specialists on the subject, proceeds to draft another document called the Instrumentum laboris, which will serve as the basis and reference-point during Synodal discussion. This "working document", though rendered public, is only a provisional text which will be the object of discussion during the Synod. The document is not a draft of the final conclusions but only a text which aims at helping to focus discussion on the Synod topic. After subsequent submission and approval by the Holy Father the document is translated into the major languages and sent to the bishops and those members who will participate in the Synodal assembly. At times, the Holy Father has granted permission for the text to be made public so as to receive a wide circulation, e.g., since 1983 this has been the case with the Instrumentum laboris of a given Synodal assembly. The bishop delegates and members read the document to familiarize themselves with the contents which will then be discussed at the Synodal assembly.
As a result of preparation work in the local Churches, based on the above-mentioned documents, i.e., Lineamenta and Instrumentum laboris, the bishops are thereby able to present to the Synodal assembly the experiences and aspirations of each community as well as the fruit of the preliminary discussions of the episcopal conferences.
Three phases characterize the Synod’s working sessions:
At the end of a Synodal assembly, the General Secretary oversees the work of archiving the material and drafting the report on the work of the Synod for submission to the Holy Father. No established norm exists concerning the final document from the Synodal assembly. At the conclusion of the first three Synodal assemblies (1967 and 1971 Ordinary General Assemblies and the 1969 Extraordinary General Assembly) the conclusions were submitted to the attention of the Pope with recommendations in response to problems expressed. Instead, after the 1974 Third Ordinary General Assembly the Holy Father himself, taking into account the Synodal propositions and final reports, drafted the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii nuntiandi". A similar process was followed in the remaining ordinary general Synodal assemblies.
Since the 1987 Synod, the various Councils of the General Secretariat and the General Secretary have been collegially involved in the process leading to the publication of the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation, the papal document coming from the Synod. It is interesting to note the history and development of these Councils.
Between the second and third Synodal assemblies, an advisory Council for the General Secretariat was formed, made up of 12 elected bishops and 3 papal appointees. Such a Council first met from 12-15 May 1970 and was intended to facilitate communication with episcopal conferences and the formulation of the agenda for the subsequent assembly. After this meeting, a general consultation of the bishops worldwide was begun for suggested topics for future assemblies (such consultation now begins in the final days of an ordinary general assembly).
Since that time the ordinary councils of the General Secretariat, elected from each Synod in light of preparation for the following one, have become a permanent feature of the General Secretariat:
With the advent of continental or regional Synodal assemblies, the Holy Father chose to form during the special assemblies post-Synodal councils through election and papal appointment. As a result, in addition to the ordinary council, the General Secretariat has in existence the following post-Synodal councils from their date of institution:
Similarly, in the preparation of a special assembly the Holy Father has appointed a group of bishops, primarily from the continent and region under consideration, to form pre-Synodal councils. These councils endure from the date of appointment until the first day of the Synodal assembly. Therefore, the following is a listing of past pre-Synodal councils, in this category, along with their dates of existence:
As can be observed, the collegial methodology is operative from the very beginning (through the choice of topic), during the preparation (through the development of the topic in the Lineamenta) and the actual celebration of the Synodal assembly, to the publication of the document, which is the fruit and crowning-point of the Synod itself. In this way, it can be said that the Synod works as a collegial body through which, in the first stage, the faith and life experiences of the Christian communities are taken into account; later, in plenary sessions, these elements are recapitulated and enlightened by faith and then, in a spirit of communion, propositions are formulated which, from the Holy Father, who is the principle of unity in the Church, return to the particular Churches as the oxygenated blood returns to arteries to vivify the human body.
So that this collegiality can fully realize its potential, it is necessary that a selfless spirit of collaboration exist among all those called upon to participate in the preparation of a Synodal assembly, particularly the Episcopal Conferences which gather the Pastors of the local Churches where the faith of the People of God is lived and experienced in all its vigor and richness. The principle way in which the collegial participation of the Episcopal Conferences receives concrete form is in their responses to the Lineamenta. The greater the number of Episcopal Conferences which respond, the more rich and varied will be the elements which, faithfully reflecting the life of the local Churches, constitute true reference points for both the drafting of the Instrumentum laboris, and the discussion in the Synod hall during a Synodal assembly.
1. I Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 29 September - 29 October 1967
Synod Fathers: 197
Topic: "Preservation and strengthening of the Catholic faith, its integrity, its force, its development, its doctrinal and historical coherence"
Pope Paul VI stated the goals for this First General Assembly: "... the preservation and the strengthening of the Catholic faith, its integrity, its force, its development, its doctrinal and historical coherence". One result of the meeting was a recommendation by the bishops to set up an international commission of theologians to assist the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as well as to broaden a discussion on approaches to theological research. In 1969 Pope Paul VI established just such a commission.
The Synod also called for a revision of the Code of Canon Law of 1917 in an attempt to make it more pastoral and more contemporary in tone and emphasis. The work was subsequently begun by Pope Paul VI and brought to completion under Pope John Paul II with the promulgation in 1983 of the Revised Code of Canon Law.
Other pastoral questions were discussed and submitted to the Pope as recommendations: that Episcopal Conferences should have major control over seminaries in their respective areas; procedures relating to mixed marriages were recommended and approved by the Pope in 1970; and approval was given for the New Order of the Mass which was put into effect in 1969.
2. I Extraordinary General Assembly
In Session: 11 September - 28 October 1969
Synod Fathers: 146
Topic: "Cooperation between the Holy See and the Episcopal Conferences"
This specially convoked general assembly had as its agenda to seek and examine ways and means of putting into practice the collegiality of bishops with the Pope, a subject which gained much attention in the declarations on the Church formulated at the Second Vatican Council. This meeting opened the door to wider participation by the bishops with the Pope and each other in the pastoral care of the universal Church.
The main emphasis of these sessions involved two basic points: 1. the collegiality of the bishops with the Pope; 2. the relation of Episcopal Conferences to the Pope and to individual bishops. Various recommendations were subsequently submitted to the Pope, three of which received immediate attention: 1. that the Synod meet at regular intervals, every two years (subsequently changed to every 3 years); 2. that the General Secretariat organize and operate between Synodal sessions; 3. that the bishops be permitted to suggest topics for the future assemblies.
Between the second and third Synodal assemblies, an advisory Council for the General Secretariat was formed made up of 12 elected bishops and 3 papal appointees. Such a Council first met from 12-15 May 1970 and was intended to facilitate communication with episcopal conferences and the formulation of the agenda for the subsequent assembly. After this meeting a general consultation of the bishops worldwide was begun for suggested topics for future assemblies. Such consultation now begins in the final days of a Synodal assembly. Since that time the Council of the General Secretariat, elected from each Synod in light of preparation for the following Synod, has become a permanent feature of the General Secretariat.
3. II Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 30 September - 6 November 1971 (longest to date)
Synod Fathers: 210
Topic: "The Ministerial Priesthood and Justice in the World"
In the course of their discussion the Synod Fathers praised priests worldwide for their dedication in their ministry to Word and Sacrament as well as their pastoral work in the apostolate. At the same time, attention was given to various difficulties experienced by priests in the ministry.
In addition, the Synod Fathers treated the subject of justice, stating the need to relate the Gospel to existing worldwide and local circumstances. In response they outlined an 8-point program for international action, and made recommendations that the Church on the local level foster education and ecumenical collaboration in the field of justice.
4. III Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 27 September - 26 October 1974
Synod Fathers: 209
Topic: "Evangelization in the Modern World"
At this assembly the Synod Fathers re-emphasized the essential missionary character of the Church and the duty of each member to bear witness to Christ in the world. In a related way the subject of liberation was treated, being linked to the work of evangelization which seeks to free a person from sin. The Synod Fathers’ recommendations and proposals submitted to the Pope, were used in the formulation of the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii nuntiandi" of 8 December 1975.
5. IV Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 30 September - 29 October 1977
Synod Fathers: 204
Topic: "Catechesis in our Time"
The discussion of the Synod Fathers which gave special attention to the catechesis of children and young people resulted in a series of 34 proposals or "Propositions" and over 900 suggestions regarding the subject. Six general areas were treated in the these recommendations: the importance of catechetical renewal, the nature of true catechesis, the persons involved in catechesis, the ongoing need of catechesis for all Christians, the means or channels of catechesis and the special aspects affecting catechesis.
On this occasion the Synod Fathers issued for the first time a Synodal statement entitled, "Message to the People of God". In this message the Synod Fathers pointed out that Christ is the center of salvation and therefore catechesis. At the same time they emphasized that all Christians have the responsibility of bringing Christ to the world.
Shortly after the conclusion of this Synod Pope John Paul II issued the Apostolic Exhortation "Catechesi tradendae" of 17 October 1979, which utilized a great many of the Synod Fathers’ insights and proposals.
6. Special Assembly for the Netherlands
In Session: 14 - 31 January 1980
Synod Fathers: 19
Topic: "The Pastoral Situation in the Netherlands"
The Particular Synod for the Netherlands, or the so-called "Dutch Synod", held in the Vatican, treated the Vatican II concept of mystery of Church communion and its practical implications, both local and universal, centering on the figure of the bishop as Teacher of the Faith and Pastor of Souls, both in his diocese and in the episcopal conference. At its conclusion the assembly adopted resolutions pertaining to the ministerial priesthood, religious life, the participation of the laity in the mission of the Church, the sacraments, the Eucharist and Confession, liturgy, catechesis and ecumenism, all based on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. A specially formed Synod Council instituted at the end of this particular Synod periodically meets with the General Secretariat to continue to assess the 00pastoral situation and to promote the implementation of the Synod resolutions.
7. V Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 26 September - 25 October 1980
Synod Fathers: 216
Topic: "The Christian Family"
A reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the contents of the encyclical Humanae vitae was central to the work of this Synod. In the course of their work the Synod Fathers produced a written message entitled, "A Message to Christian Families in the Modern World", and proposed a "Charter for the Rights of the Family" which Pope John Paul II subsequently acted upon, on 22 October 1983. From the discussion and proposals of the assembly the Pope issued the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" of 22 November 1981.
8. VI Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 29 September - 29 October 1983
Synod Fathers: 221
Topic: "Penance and Reconciliation in the Mission of the Church"
The assembly and theme coincided with the "extraordinary" Holy Year proclaimed by the Holy Father to commemorate the 1950th year of the Redemption of the World through the Death of Christ. At this time the Synod Fathers discussed related matters, emphasizing the need of applying the fruits of Christ’s redemption to a person’s life and, as a result, to society. In a statement issued by the assembly the Synod Fathers called the world to "reconciliation" and proclaimed "the Church as a Sacrament of reconciliation and a sign of the mercy of God toward the sinner". The Synod Fathers’ work during the Synod served as the basis for the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Reconciliatio et paenitentia" of 2 December 1984, which for the first time was designated as a "post-Synodal" document.
9. II Extraordinary General Assembly
In Session: 24 November - 8 December 1985
Synod Fathers: 165
Topic: "The Twentieth Anniversary of the Conclusion of the Second Vatican Council"
Specially convened by Pope John Paul II, the purpose of this assembly was to commemorate the occurrence of the Council and to assess the state of Church renewal. According to statute the Synod brought together all the Presidents of the over 100 Episcopal Conferences worldwide and various other persons. The discussions centered on the documents of the Second Vatican Council and their implementation in the Church around the world. At this session the Synod Fathers produced a final report (Relatio finalis), issued at the closing session, along with a "Message to the People of God". Responding to the proposal from the Synod Fathers at this assembly, the Holy Father authorized the compilation and publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, released in 1992.
10. VII Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 1 - 30 October 1987
Synod Fathers: 232
Topic: "The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World"
Through a consideration of the concepts of vocation ("being") and mission ("doing") in the Vatican II context of Church communion, the Synod Fathers sought to emphasize the distinctive nature of the lay faithful in the Church’s life (Communion in Holiness) and Her work of evangelization in the world (Secular Character). Because of the topic this Synod witnessed a significant presence of lay persons as Auditors; lay persons were called upon to address the general assembly and share insights in the Small Groups, and for the first time, a lay woman and man were appointed as Adjunct Special Secretaries. The information resulting from the Synod, particularly the 54 propositions of the General Assembly, were used in the formulation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles laici" of 30 December 1988.
11. VIII Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 30 September - 28 October 1990
Synod Fathers: 238
Topic: "The Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day"
Taking into consideration the work of the Second Ordinary General Assembly (1971) which gave a theological treatment to the priesthood and its implications in the priestly ministry, this Synod was more pastoral in tone, centering upon priestly formation and the "person" of the priest himself, both religious and diocesan, before and after ordination. Notable in the sessions was the general accord of the Synod Fathers in their discussion and treatment of the subject. At the Synod’s conclusion the Synod Fathers offered 41 propositions to the Holy Father which were used, along with other information resulting from the Synod process, in the preparation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation entitled "Pastores dabo vobis" of 25 March 1992.
12. I Special Assembly for Europe
In Session: 28 November - 14 December 1991
Synod Fathers: 137
Topic: "So that we might be witnesses of Christ who has set us free"
On 22 April 1990 during an Apostolic Visit to Velehrad, Czechoslovakia, the site of the tomb of St. Methodius, co-patron of Europe with Saints Cyril and Benedict, the Holy Father announced his desire to convoke a Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops so as to discern the "kairos" of the situation created by the great changes taking place in Europe and to consider the role of the Church in the efforts on the continent towards renewal and reconstruction. The special nature of the Synod and its brief preparation period required various modifications to Synod statutes, e.g., instead of the Lineamenta and Instrumentum laboris documents, a brief guide to reflection (Itinerarium) and a synopsis (Summarium) were prepared; special criteria were devised for episcopal delegates so as also to give substantial representation bishops from Central and Eastern Europe, etc. One of the noteworthy events in the preparation was a pre-Synodal symposium sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture which gathered intellectuals from both eastern and western Europe in a common reflection on the Synod topic. Likewise, representatives from the Orthodox Church and major Christian communities in Europe were invited in a spirit of ecumenism to participate for the first time in a Synodal assembly as "fraternal delegates". The work of the special assembly culminated in the publication of a Declaration, in which the Synod Fathers outlined a program for the new evangelization of Europe and made an appeal for universal solidarity among all European citizens. Subsequently, a group of members from the special assembly was appointed to devise ways of implementing the conclusions of the Declaration through a strengthening of the Concilium Conferentiarum Episcopalium Europae (CCEE) in light of the present circumstances.
13. Special Assembly for Africa
In Session: 10 April - 8 May 1994
Synod Fathers: 242
Topic: "The Church in Africa and Her Evangelizing Mission Towards the Year 2000: ‘You Shall Be My Witnesses’ (Acts 1, 8)"
On 6 January 1989 the Holy Father announced his intention to convene the special assembly and appointed a pre-preparatory commission, made up primarily of members of the African episcopate. The following June, this group was expanded to constitute the Council of the General Secretariat, and entrusted with helping prepare for the Synodal assembly. In conjunction with the meeting of representatives of the African episcopate in Lomé, Togo, July, 1990, the Lineamenta document "outlining" the Synod topic was published, beginning a period of prayerful reflection on the local level. The responses from the local Churches were used in formulating the Special Assembly’s "working paper" or Instrumentum laboris, released during the Holy Father’s Ninth Pastoral Visit to Africa, Kampala, Uganda, February, 1993.
With this document as a point of reference, the Synod Fathers discussed in the month long session the general topic of evangelization from the following perspectives: 1. Proclamation of the Message; 2. Inculturation; 3. Dialogue; 4. Justice and Peace; 5. Means of Social Communication. In addition to the lively and in-depth discussion of the topic during the various phases of Synodal activity, a highlight of the Special Assembly were the opening and closing ceremonies which incorporated many elements from liturgical traditions in Africa.
The resulting documentation includes a lengthy Message to the People of God, released at the conclusion of the Special Assembly, and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa" of 14 September 1995, signed and presented to the Church in conjunction with the Synodal visit to Africa by the Holy Father, 14-20 September 1995, for the Special Assembly’s celebration phase.
A Post-Synodal Council, elected from the Special Assembly, continues to offer assistance to the General Secretariat. Its task is to monitor the impact and implementation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation at the level of the local Church. The Council compiled a report which was sent to all the bishops in Africa, the heads of the departments of the Roman Curia, and the presidents of Episcopal Conferences worldwide as well as other interested parties. This Council continues to meet periodically to assess the situation so as to update the bishops of Africa and to encourage efforts to bring about the document’s beneficial effects.
14. IX Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 2 - 29 October 1994
Synod Fathers: 245
Topic: "The Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World"
On 30 December 1991 the Holy Father announced the convocation of a Synodal assembly to give attention to the consecrated life. Some saw it as a logical completion of the treatment of the states of life in the Church begun in the previous two ordinary assemblies on the laity and the priesthood respectively. The period of prayer and reflection prior to the Synodal assembly was particularly fruitful, eliciting a widespread exchange not simply within the institutes of consecrated life and the societies of apostolic life, but also within national and international bodies, not to mention various individual and group initiatives with the Church’s hierarchy and various departments of the Roman Curia. The Synod Fathers touched on a vast number of subjects associated with the topic and listened attentively to the many interventions made by the great number of auditors. Particularly noteworthy during this Synodal gathering was the number of Synod Fathers members from religious congregations, the appointment of a woman and man religious as Adjunct Special Secretaries, as well as the significantly increased number of women and men from the consecrated life as Experts and Auditors. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Vita consecrata" was published on 25 March 1996.
15. Special Assembly for Lebanon
In Session: 26 November - 14 December 1995
Synod Fathers: 69
Topic: "Christ is Our Hope: Renewed by His Spirit, in Solidarity We Bear Witness to His Love"
Because of the particular needs of the Church in Lebanon created by the prolonged situation of war, the Holy Father announced on 6 June 1991 his intention to convoke a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Lebanon. After subsequent initial meetings with the Patriarchs of the Oriental Churches in Lebanon, a ten-member Council, representing the 6 sui juris Catholic Churches in Lebanon, was appointed in January, 1992 to render assistance in the required preparatory work. At the same time, a Lebanese bishop was also designated as an on-site coordinator. The Lineamenta of the Special Assembly was made public on 13 March 1993, beginning the phase of prayer and reflection on the Synod topic by the local dioceses and various Church bodies in Lebanon, a period which lasted until 1 November 94. The responses to the Lineamenta were incorporated in the Instrumentum laboris, the Special Assembly’s working document, which was the point of reference during the Synodal assembly.
On 10 May 1997 the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "A New Hope for Lebanon", was published during a papal visit to Lebanon for the celebration phase of the Special Assembly. An Arab translation of the document, prepared by the Assembly of Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, was subsequently published in 1998. The Post-Synodal Council, resulting from this special assembly, continues to hold meetings to evaluate the impact and implementation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation in Lebanon.
16. Special Assembly for America
In Session: 16 November - 12 December 1997
Synod Fathers: 233
Topic: "Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: the Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America"
In the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, the Holy Father made known his desire to continue the Synodal movement on the continental level, beginning with the Special Assemblies for Europe (1991) and Africa (1994), and to convene special Synodal assemblies, including the Special Assembly for America, as part of the program leading to the celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000. On 12 June 1995, a Pre-Synodal Council was appointed to collaborate in the preparations of the special assembly. With its assistance, the Lineamenta was published on 3 September 1996 and the Instrumentum laboris on 10 September 1997.
During the assembly, the Synod Fathers took into consideration the various features of Church life and society on the American continent and sought the best ways and means of allowing the people of America to encounter Jesus Christ. In this regard, they discussed the relation between the Gospel and culture and the main concepts of conversion, communion and solidarity in meeting the great challenges of contemporary society on the continent. At the conclusion of the special assembly the Synod Fathers published the customary Nuntius or "Message to the People of God".
A Post-Synodal Council, elected during the assembly, met on various occasions to evaluate the results of the Synod and to offer assistance to the Holy Father in drafting the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in America" of 22 January 1999, which was promulgated by the Holy Father, 23 January 1999, during the celebration phase of the special assembly in Mexico City, Mexico. On the following day, many Synodal participants from all parts of the continent were present for the Eucharistic Liturgy celebrated in the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe.
Subsequently, the Post-Synodal Council has met at various times to evaluate the implementation of the document and to offer encouragement to the bishops in their initiatives on the continent in response to the post-Synodal document.
17. Special Assembly for Asia
In Session: 19 April - 14 May 1998
Synod Fathers: 191
Topic: "Jesus Christ the Savior and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia: ‘...That They May Have Life, and Have it Abundantly’ (Jn 10,10)"
On 10 September 1995, the Holy Father established a Pre-Synodal Council for the Special Assembly for Asia made up primarily of cardinals, archbishops and bishops from Asia. Part of their task was to assist the General Secretariat in the drafting of the Lineamenta released on 3 September 1996 and the Instrumentum laboris published on 13 February 1998.
During the Special Assembly, the Synod Fathers, keeping in mind that the Church is a small but vibrant flock on a Asian continent where the Great Religions of the World are present, focused their attention on the uniqueness of the person of Jesus as Savior and His gift of abundant life in the context of the Church’s program of a new evangelization. Of particular concern was how the Church, in a concrete pastoral plan, can continue the Lord’s mission of love and service in Asia. At the conclusion, the Synod Fathers published a Nuntius or "Message to the People of God" which treated various points of the Synodal topic.
The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia" was signed by the Holy Father on 6 November 1999 in the Sacred Heart Cathedral, during the Synod’s celebration phase, 5-8 November 1999, in New Delhi, India. Since that time, the Post-Synodal Council had met periodically to evaluate the distribution and implementation of the document in the Church in Asia.
18. Special Assembly for Oceania
In Session: 22 November - 12 December 1998
Synod Fathers: 117
Topic: "Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania: Walking His Way, Telling His Truth, Living His Life"
On 7 June 1996 the Holy Father appointed the Pre-Synodal Council made up primarily of bishops from Oceania. This Council had three meetings, the first was devoted to the drafting of the Lineamenta text, subsequently completed and sent to the interested parties, the second held in Wellington (New Zealand), 26-28 August 1997, treated the criteria for participation, and the third, 10-12 March 1998, finalized the text of the Instrumentum laboris and attended to immediate details in preparation for the special assembly.
A unique feature of this Synodal assembly was the fact that all bishops of the region were to participate as ex officio members. To ease travel difficulties and limit the absence of the bishops from their local Churches, arrangements were made to hold the customary ad limina visits in conjunction with the special assembly. Despite the great difference in pastoral situations in the region, many common concerns emerged in the course of Synod work, e.g., inculturation of the Gospel, renewed attention to catechetics and formation, the revitalization of the faith of believers, pastoral care of youth, migrants and native peoples, etc., all of which converged in a concentration on the person of Christ, the way, the truth and the life.
On 11 December 1998 a Post-Synodal Council was established by members elected from the Synodal assembly and papal appointments. The Council held a number of meetings to discuss the outcome of the special assembly and to offer assistance to the Holy Father in drafting the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, which is eagerly awaited at present by the Church in the Oceania.
19. II Special Assembly for Europe
In Session: 1 - 23 October 1999
Synod Fathers: 117
Topic: "Jesus Christ, Alive in His Church, Source of Hope for Europe"
The Second Special Assembly for Europe is the last in the series of continental Synodal assemblies which were convoked by the Holy Father in his Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente as part of the preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000. Notwithstanding the fact that the First Special Assembly for Europe took place in 1991, less than a decade ago, new social and cultural situations, existent on the continent in the wake of political changes in the East, have created pastoral challenges which make particularly opportune the convocation of a Second Special Assembly for Europe.
On 9 February 1997 the Holy Father appointed the Pre-Synodal Council to assist in the preparation of this Synodal assembly. This group, with the assistance of theologians from Europe and the staff of the General Secretariat, drafted the Lineamenta, sent in the Spring of 1998 to the Episcopal Conferences in Europe, to the department heads of the Roman Curia and to other interested parties, and the Instrumentum laboris based on the responses received in the Lineamenta phase, following the logical development of the Synodal topic, which was submitted to the Holy Father for his approval and, subsequently, released to the public on 21 June 1999.
The Post-Synodal Council resulting from the assembly has held meetings to analyze the Propositions of the special assembly and to contribute to the drafting of the Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, not yet published.
20. X Ordinary General Assembly
In Session: 30 September - 27 October 2001
Topic: "The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World"
In preparation for the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly, the Ninth Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat, in a series of periodic meetings assisted in the consultation process to determine the Synodal topic and collaborated in the composition of the Lineamenta which was sent on 16 June 1998 to the bishops throughout the world and those customarily contacted for official responses. The responses were subsequently analyzed and included in the Council’s work of drafting the Instrumentum laboris which was released on 1 June 2001. This Synodal assembly is to focus on the person and role of the bishop in his diocese in light of the beginning of the Third Millennium.
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The design and furnishings of the synod chapel are meant to communicate and celebrate the theological concepts of communion and collegiality underlying the Synod of Bishops which meets in assembly, cum Petro et sub Petro. Therefore, the episcopal college figures greatly in the artistic design and appointments of the chapel, drawing particular inspiration from two major Biblical passages, Acts 2:1-4 and John 20:19-29, which both treat the bestowal of the Holy Spirit on the apostles gathered together.
Though the Church was mystically begotten at the crucifixion of Christ, coming forth, as St. Augustine mentions, like the new Eve from the side of the New Adam, the Church has consistently taught that the Church’s initial venture into the world was accomplished on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended in tongues of fire upon the apostles, gathered with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the Upper Room or Cenacle. Since this is a particularly powerful event in the life of the episcopal college as a group, and thereby the Church, the design of the chapel wishes to re-create visually the experience of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1-4).
The oval stained glass window in the ceiling portrays the Holy Spirit as a dove on a triangular golden field to recall the Blessed Trinity, the source of communion in the episcopate and in the Church as a whole. The movement of the glass in various tones of red, yellow and orange highlights the outpouring of the Spirit in tongues of fire which made the apostles eloquent witnesses to Christ. Fire’s property of light and heat also corresponds to enlightenment (wisdom) and strength (zeal), elements which characterised the mission of Peter and the apostles. The Holy Spirit continues as the dynamic force in the pastoral mission of the Pope and the episcopal college, particularly in the celebration of the synod.
According to Biblical evidence, the Cenacle or Upper Room, the site of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as seen above, was also the room in which Jesus celebrated the Passover meal at which he instituted the Sacraments of the Priesthood and the Eucharist. The setting of the Cenacle, therefore, becomes symbolic not only of the shared episcopal dignity but the principle of its unity. These concepts of communion and collegiality are communicated in the furnishings positioned directly beneath the Holy Spirit window: a central kneeler recalls the Holy Father, Successor of St. Peter, surrounded by benches and kneelers to symbolize the eleven remaining apostles. The configuration of the chairs in an oval as opposed to a standard consecutive "line-up" of benches or chairs, beginning at the entrance and sweeping towards the front of the chapel, assists in highlighting the unitive action of the college gathered "in and around Peter." At the same time, all - including the spectator - are drawn to the altar and tabernacle towards an encounter with the mystical Christ, present in the Eucharist, who, in the Easter apparition to the episcopal college, recorded by St. John, stands in the midst of the college, and "breathes forth" or imparts his Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 20: 19-29), giving them authority and power as bishops. The two bronze statues of Sts. Peter and Paul, in the niches at the rear of the chapel, are symbolic of the universality of the Church and the vocation of the episcopate.
The above theme is reinforced in the artwork on the glass door at the chapel’s entrance: a central mitre bearing the apostolic keys to signify Peter, surrounded by eleven mitres, as if to announce the chapel’s theme. The mitres are drawn together in a circle to indicate their unity as a college through the gift of Trinitarian communion.
To continue the theme of the collegiality and communion of the apostolic college, the altar is suggestive of the prow of a boat, turning up waves. The New Testament contains many passages in which a boat provides the setting for significant experiences for the apostles as a group or college.
The boat has special meaning not just for the apostolic college but for the person of Peter.
In addition to the above associations, a boat also has Eucharistic significance in relation to the apostolic college and thus reinforces the use of this symbol as the base of the altar of reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.
The boat is also used as the symbol of the entire Church, oftentimes referred to as the "Bark of Peter." In this sense, the crucifix conveniently completes the mast to Peter’s humble fishing boat. The movement of the sculpture, including the shroud-like pieces of cloth in the rear - a hearkening to the shroud and resurrection - is a further association with the work of the Holy Spirit, who provides the "wind" for the sails of Peter’s Bark, always moving the Church ahead in time towards the Lord, in fulfilment of the promise.
The simple bronze tabernacle bears the customary shafts of wheat and grapes for the Eucharist. Fish, indicative of Peter the fisherman and the mission of the apostles as "fishers of men" (Matt 4:19; Mk 1:17) are also on the tabernacle, candlesticks and sanctuary lamp. The fish is also the ancient symbol of Christ, drawn by using the Greek word, , meaning fish, as an acronym for the phrase: "Jesus Christ, Son of God Saviour".
The Stations of the Cross, crafted in mother-of-pearl in Palestine, recall the following of Christ, the vocation which the bishops share with every Christian in the Church.
The Marian statue, entitled Our Lady of Hope, is reminiscent of Our Lady’s presence with the Apostles gathered in prayer in the Cenacle. She extends her hand to marvel at the wonder of God’s grace, to welcome the flame of the love of the Holy Spirit and to allow it to bear fruit. As true handmaiden and servant of the Lord and His Gospel and image of the Church who mystically brings forth children, Mary is the Mother of the Apostles and their successors. In effect, the apostles, gathered around Mary in the Upper Room, look at her as if into a mirror, a mirror in which they see themselves as Church, the "Bride of Christ".
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La prima Conferenza Stampa sui lavori sinodali (con la traduzione simultanea in italiano, inglese, francese e spagnolo) si terrà nell’Aula Giovanni Paolo II della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, lunedì 1 ottobre 2001 alle ore 12.45.
I Signori operatori audiovisivi (cameramen e tecnici) e fotoreporters sono pregati di rivolgersi al Pontificio Consiglio per le Comunicazioni Sociali, per il permesso di accesso.
I nominativi dei partecipanti saranno comunicati appena possibile.
Le prossimi Conferenze Stampa si terranno:
Per una più efficace informazione sui lavori sinodali sono stati organizzati per i Signori giornalisti accreditati 5 gruppi linguistici.
Il primo "briefing" per i Gruppi linguistici avrà luogo martedì 2 ottobre 2001 alle ore 13.10 circa, a conclusione della Terza Congregazione Generale (il "briefing" per il Gruppo linguistico inglese inizierà a conclusione della Conferenze Stampa per la presentazione del nuovo Martirologio).
Qui di seguito sono riportati per ogni gruppo linguistico il luogo del "briefing" e il nome dell’Addetto Stampa:
Addetto Stampa: Rev. Giorgio Costantino
Luogo: Sala dei giornalisti, Sala Stampa della Santa Sede
Addetto Stampa: Rev. P. Thomas Williams, L.C.
Luogo: Aula Giovanni Paolo II, Sala Stampa della Santa Sede
Addetto Stampa: Rev. P. Pierre Gérard, S.I.
Luogo: Sala Marconi, Radio Vaticana, Palazzo Pio, Piazza Pia 3
Addetto Stampa: Sig. Jésus De Las Heras Muela
Luogo: Sala delle telecomunicazioni, Sala Stampa della Santa Sede
Addetto Stampa: Mons. Richard Mathes
Luogo: Centro Pastorale per i Pellegrini di lingua tedesca, Via della Conciliazione, 51
Gli Addetti Stampa terranno i prossimi "Briefing":
Nei seguenti giorni gli Addetti Stampa saranno accompagnati per il "briefing" a ogni gruppo linguistico da un Padre sinodale della stessa lingua , alle ore 13.10:
Eventuali variazioni saranno pubblicate appena possibile.
Si prevedono "pools" di giornalisti accreditati per accedere all’Aula del Sinodo, in linea di massima per la preghiera di apertura delle Congregazioni Generali antimeridiane.
Nell’Ufficio Informazioni e Accreditamenti della Sala Stampa della Santa Santa Sede (all’ingresso, a destra) saranno messe a disposizione dei redattori le liste d’iscrizione ai "pools".
Per i "pools" i fotoreporters e gli operatori TV sono pregati di rivolgersi al Pontificio Consiglio delle Comunicazioni Sociali.
I partecipanti ai "pools" sono pregati di trovarsi alle ore 08.30 nel Settore Stampa, allestito all’esterno di fronte all’ingresso dell’Aula Paolo VI, da dove saranno accompagnati da un officiale della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede (per i redattori) e del Pontificio Consiglio per le Comunicazioni Sociali (per i fotoreporters e troupes TV). È richiesto un abbigliamento confacente la circostanza.
Il Bollettino informativo della Commissione per l’informazione della X Assemblea Generale Ordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi, dal titolo Synodus Episcoporum, pubblicato dalla Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, uscirà in 5 edizioni linguistiche (plurilingue, italiana, inglese, francese e spagnola), con 2 numeri al giorno (antimeridiano e pomeridiano) o secondo necessità.
Il numero antimeridiano uscirà a conclusione della Congregazione Generale del mattino e il numero pomeridiano uscirà il mattino seguente.
La distribuzione ai Signori giornalisti accreditati si effettuerà nella Sala dei giornalisti della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede.
L’edizione plurilingue riporterà i riassunti degli interventi dei Padri sinodali preparati da loro stessi, nelle lingue in cui saranno consegnati per la pubblicazione. Le altre 4 edizioni riporteranno la versione rispettivamente in italiano, inglese, francese e spagnolo.
Il terzo numero del Bollettino conterrà l’Omelia del Santo Padre durante la Solenne Concelebrazione di Apertura del mattino di domenica 30 settembre 2001 (sarà a disposizione dei Signori giornalisti accreditati all’apertura della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, sotto embargo).
Il quarto numero del Bollettino conterrà le relazioni che saranno presentate nella Prima Congregazione Generale del mattino di lunedì 1° ottobre 2001 (che sarà anche trasmessa in diretta TV nella Sala Stampa della Santa Sede).
Le edizioni linguistiche del Bollettino saranno consultabili anche sul sito Internet della Santa Sede: http://www.vatican.va
Si ricorda che il Bollettino del Sinodo dei Vescovi è soltanto uno strumento di lavoro ad uso giornalistico e che le traduzioni non hanno carattere ufficiale.