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Intervention of His Eminence Dario Castrillón, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy at the Synod of Bishops, (Special Assembly for Asia).



Most Holy Father

Venerable Fathers of the Synod

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. At this time of the dawning of the Third Millennium since the Incarnation of the Word, the theme of this Synod stands at the center of the admirable, indefatigable pastoral solicitude of the Successor of St. Peter and makes the task of a new evangelization stretching to the ends of the earth more pressing. In these vast horizons which are, at the same time both daunting and inspiring, the huge continent of Asia looms large, with all of its riches of culture, history, tradition and exquisite sensitivity; with its missionary epic replete with glory and suffering, with flourishing catholic communities and also with very large geographic areas where the Reign of Christ must yet be extended or at least strengthened. Catholic communities in some of these countries find themselves existing in extremely delicate conditions. In full awareness of the fecundity of the Mystical Body, a very special greeting is sent to those countries as they both stimulate our fervent prayer and a renewed awareness of the meaning of effective communion with the See of Peter.

Compassion, and a warm fraternal embrace of a greater than usual intensity, from all of the Churches, is becoming, to this "martyrdom of bondedness".

This chosen Assembly gathered here, at the heart of Christianity, close to the one who is Rock, is aware that it is living through a vital moment of affective and effective communion which is not some type of sterile intellectual exercise, but is the study of means whereby the Third Millennium will make known in Asia, and in every region thereof, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, not "one" way but the way, and that there is no salvation except through Him.

2. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy I believe that it is fundamental to recall attention to some priorities that I will avert to specifically :

a) the need for clarity in the identity of priests ontologically configured to Christ the Shepherd and Head;

b) the spread, by every suitable means, of catechesis that is absolutely faithful to the deposit of the faith as this is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I believe that the solution to the pastoral question of the promotion of vocations, albeit pressing and unavoidable, is to be found in these two priorities, linked also to fervent prayer and acts of penance.

2.1 Clarity of priestly identity

I feel it is necessary to expend every effort to effectively weld initial formation with ongoing, (permanent), formation and to be careful that the latter does not remain a vague term which might refer only to a periodic meeting for "updating".

In order for such formation to be valid there must be reference to a theology and a spirituality which proceeds from the awareness of the absolute necessity of Jesus Christ as Sole Redeemer and, as a consequence this theology and spirituality would be intrinsically and substantially missionary.

For priests to dialog with the cultures presupposes on the one hand, a positive respect for them, and on the other, the need for a clarity in both evaluating and enlightening them with the fulness of revealed Truth. The Church cannot renounce or mitigate, for any reason, her primary duty to preach the Good News ("evangelizare pauperibus misit me"). It is urgent to clarify the necessity to preach not only of God, but of God, One and Three, God Who became Man, who broke into history through the divine maternity of the ever Virgin Mary, who makes us understand sin, who forgives and redeems us from it, who teaches, suffers, dies and rises from the dead, who does not leave his Church as an orphan and who sends us His Holy Spirit!

With this in mind, sacred ministers must exercise special care in ensuring the spread of an authentically catholic culture. Such publications must be chosen and academic resource centers used as promote that authentic healthy ecclesiastical spirit which can so often appear to be lacking in certain regions.

Particular heed should be paid so that models and theories which have already produced ruinous results here and there are not uncritically transferred to other Countries.

It would be certainly fruitful to faithfully apply the texts of the Directory on the ministry and life of priests which like that of the Interdicasterial Instruction on Certain Questions regarding the collaboration of the lay faithful in the sacred ministry of priests, clearly links priestly identity with the sacred ministry consequent to that particular state and lay identity with its specific ecclesiastical role.


2.2 Faithful Catechesis

Since irenicism, syncretism and naturalism are spread everywhere throughout today's culture and are breathed in almost by osmosis, and since these threaten to undermine the Credo in both its integrity and realism, I think it necessary to proceed with care and expedition to the diffusion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and of age appropriate catechetical texts inspired by the mother-text (CCC), where these may perhaps still be lacking. I believe furthermore, that it is also helpful to provide assistance in distinguishing the "text" from "commentaries" on it.

There is a base text, (the CCC), which constitutes an indispensable reference point and texts derivative of it must therefore be most faithful to it. The recent General Directory for Catechesis is a useful instrument in carrying out such a delicate task.

3. The indispensable sense of mission required for the new evangelization must find its proper roots in ecclesiastical formation and in the authentic content of catechesis. Thus, with the ideas and operative principles being already intrinsically missionary, the hearts, wills and consequent actions involved in pastoral application, will be also.

I am certain that this Synod, unfolding in the atmosphere of the Cenacle, under the vigilant and maternal gaze of the Virgin Queen of the Apostles and Star of the new evangelization, will know how to offer very useful, practical indications in this regard also.

I wish all, a power-filled experience of the Holy Spirit!