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16 November-12 December 1997

"Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ,
the Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America"

The Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops is only a working instrument for journalistic use and the translations from the original are not official.

English Edition


21 - 28.11.1997



During the opening of the Seventeenth General Congregation of yesterday afternoon, 27 November 1997, (see Bulletin No. 20), the President Delegate, H. Exc. Rev. Msgr. Darío CASTRILLÓN HOYOS, Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy informed the participants of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops of the kidnapping of Monsignor Quintero Diaz, Bishop Prelate of Tibu (Colombia), taken from his office by terrorists of the so-called "Army of National Liberation".

"Bishop Quintero Diaz," said the President Delegate, "is a very good man who has never been interested in politics." H. Exc. Rev. Dario Castrillon Hoyos concluded, espressing on behalf of all the Synodal Fathers, their total solidarity with the Prelate, their assurances of prayers and their indignation for such clear violations of the most fundamental human rights.


The Eighteenth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, opened at 9:10 am today, with the chant of the Third Hour, in the presence of the Holy Father, for the conclusion of the interventions of the Auditors and for the presentation of the "Relatio post disceptationem". President Delegate on duty: H. Em. Rev. Card. Roger Michael MAHONY, Archbishop of Los Angeles.


At the opening of the Eighteenth General Congregation, the following Auditors intervened, who for lack of time, had not been able to take the floor in the course of the Fifteenth General Congregation of 26 November 1997:

Herewith follow the summaries of the interventions of the Auditors:

Sr. Virgenmina MORELL MARTELL , Superior General of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima

I would like to share the following thought with you: God sees and hears the cry of His people; God does not make His people wait, He has providential means and mediators, historical events, the history of individuals as He confirms and celebrates; the strategy of the Lord God of the universe is to use common, humble means, whether they be the sacraments or the many people through which he achieves marvelous things.

Identified with Jesus Christ, we are among the multitudes of America, and the people nearest to Him we have the poor, the unemployed, the ignorant and others. God’s plan of salvation requires us to do good to everyone; this is why he sent us His beloved Son full of good. His will is that everyone may enjoy this good and be saved. Any help is possible, all charity is possible.

Allow me to share an experience of pastoral service in the integral promotion of man, originating in a group of poor people; it was here that we identified the elements of communion, solidarity, the way to conversion the encounter with the people who have the potential to be the Living Christ though they may seem to be ‘dead’.

1. The experience started in Puerto Rico in a poor place with five lay women and five religious women.

2. All the gifts and talents were put together, and the few participants made their own contribution.

3. The prayer and the reading of the Word based on the humility of the ignorant; liturgical celebrations were adapted to the possibilities, with each one contributing a minimum of resources, conversing with humility and fraternity.

4. After three years, the group won an award called Gente de bronce’ given by the Puerto Rico local authorities, and this small amount went a long way.

5. After ten years, what began in a small way has now become a recognized institute for the integral development of individuals, families and communities.

6. Services in the field of education, social and economic promotion, cultural promotion, evangelization and catechesis are offered.

7. Participants include people of different religions, unmarried mothers and fathers, the unemployed, former convicts, married couples, families in conflict, young people who have left school, people who want to use their free time in positive activities; there are programs for the prevention of juvenile delinquency, which started with ten volunteers and has expanded to fifty people who offer their services free of charge.

9. The organization has been a model and a challenge for public service agencies. Sometimes because of corruption in other institutions in public service, funds have been allocated to be administered by a board of directors of the Institute, which is known for its ethical behavior and volunteer service.

10. The project is being implemented with our bishops.

11. Recently, members of the U.S. Congress visited the Institute, interested in knowing about it since it is so new and effective in our times.

The promoters and the participants considered the Institute to be a part of themselves. I know that in many parts of America there is a variety of efficient and innovative services, and I have illustrated this one because it my contribution to the common effort. Thank you for your attention and I would like to thank the Holy Father for the invitation . I pray Mary Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church to continue to bless us all.

[00254-02.04] [UD34] [Original text: Castilian]

Rev. Fr. James J. RONAN , Executive Director of the Committee on the Church in Latin America, National Conference of Catholic Bishops

There is a long and rich history of relationship between the Church in the United States and the Church in Latin America. Pope John XXIII encouraged Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston in his founding of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle and in his leadership among the US hierarchy to broaden Northern involvement in Latin America. These initiatives begun in the late 1950’s have borne fruit. Summarized in an excellent book, "Sharing Faith Across the Hemisphere", recently released by the US Bishop’s Committee on the Church in Latin America, many facts and statistics of involvement are found. In addition the impact of this involvement on the Church in the United States is recounted.

The highly positive nature of this relationship was recounted in Fr. Ronan’s intervention. Especially he emphasized the mutual gift each Church has been, is and needs to be to the other, saying, "We need one another. The Church in the North with all her gifts and strengths is needed by the Church in Latin America. The Church in Latin America with all her wealth of people, her faith, her suffering and experience, is our elder sister -and we need her!- It is a paradox that the weakness of the Church in the North are met in the strengths of the South and the deep needs of the South are met in the strengths of the North. We are a family -and need one another to be complete and whole."

Fr. Ronan made three suggestions: 1. Each cathedral in America be yoked with another -in a North/South twinning relationship- which must be mutual.

2. Each student at a Catholic university have the opportunity to study for a time at a sister university in the North/South- thus forming a new generation of American Catholic leaders.

3. Of the 24 Episcopal Conferences in the region, the US is the only one with a specific office established to be in relationship with the others. Perhaps each conference should have a similar office to facilitate dialogue and sharing and to look for the new structures which will draw us closer together in the future.

[00258-02.02] [UD35] [Original text: English]

Prof. Belisario BETANCUR , President of the Pope John Paul II Institute of Social Studies

During ten days of profound and brilliant discussion, the Synod has confirmed the comforting social emphasis shown in the Instrumentum Laboris. Thank you, Holy Father, for putting the finger on a sore spot; and for giving new leadership with the Synod forAmerica through the withering away of habitual policies!

On referring to numbers 20 and 28 of the Insturmentum Laboris, there is an initial question: why are there so few women if they represent over half of our people?

My experience in authority, which successfully gave responsibility to many women, does not find an answer to this discrimination, which should be corrected.

The search for peace is present in the Synod. To reach this, it is necessary to have a dialogue against a background of a decalogue on authenticity of the parties in conflict and their strong will for peace and to reach an agreement confidentiality; mediation granted by the United Nations and by friendly nations; negotiators having full capacity to commit the military leaders; an agency of the United Nations which checks agreements and channels petitions; respect for international humanitarian law.

Lastly, education for peace. Thus, it would be possible to have peace in the world with that small amount of peace which every human being cradles in his or her heart. Thank you.

[00259-02.04] [UD36] [Original text: Castilian]


Afterwards, the Relator General, H. Em. Rev. Card. Juan SANDOVAL ÍÑIGUEZ, Archbishop of Guadalajara, with the assistance of the Special Secretaries H. Exc. Rev. Msgr. Francis Eugene GEORGE, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago and H. Exc. Rev. Msgr. Estanislao Esteban KARLIC, Archbishop of Paraná, presented the "Relatio post disceptationem" - his second report, at the conclusion of the general discussion on the synodal theme, in the Hall, in which are summarized the various interventions that were presented during the span of the General Congregations and which offers some lines of orientation in order to facilitate the works of the Small Groups.

Herewith follows the summary of the Relation after the discussion :

The Relatio post disceptationem proposes for the discussion of the small groups the principal points needing elaboration and concentrated attention. In so doing, the intent of the Relation is to summarize the essential contents of the interventions which took place in the different General Congregations of the Synodal Assembly. This Relation, furthermore, reflects the general climate of happiness and of profound gratefulness to God on the part of all the Synodal Fathers for the encounter and experience of episcopal collegiality which thrives in the Special Assembly. In fact, this is the first time in the history of the Church that Bishops of the American continent - from the North, Central, South and Caribbean - have gathered with the Holy Father to reflect on the ecclesial realities in this geographical area and to find ways of communion and ecclesial solidarity.

Even though the text reformulates the general lines of the focus of the Synodal theme and of the preceeding Synodal documents, (Lineamenta, Instrumentum Laboris, Relatio ante disceptationem), three important sub-themes unfold: the person of Jesus Christ, the reality of the Church and her mission in the world. These themes find articulation in five chapters:

1. Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ, the Way to Conversion.

2. Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ, the Way to Communion in the Church.

3. Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ, the Way to Solidarity.

4. Unity in the Living Christ and Cooperation among Churches.

5. Unity in the Living Christ and Hope.

The themes of the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, of conversion to Him, and of the way to holiness, are developed in the first chapter. The goal of evangelization is to lead mankind to holiness. Pastors, in order to be able to lead the flock on this path, confirm their desire to live their true vocation following in the footsteps of Christ, the Good Shepherd. The universal call to conversion and to holiness of all the members of the People of God are emphatically brought to light; so is the necessity of offering to the world the witness and clarity of doctrine, fortitude, and the fearless prophecy of the truth, mercy and compassion of Jesus Christ.

In the second chapter, the following ecclesiastical realities are developed: the Church as communion, conversion of one’s neighbor, ecumenism, life and the family, women in the Church and in society, youth, ecclesiastical structures, laity and lay ministries. This Synod is in itself an eloquent sign of episcopal collegiality among the Pastors of the Churches, especially in America, and the Vicar of Christ for the New Evangelization throughout the continent.

The third chapter contains the following topics: the New Evangelization, Native Peoples in America, corruption in public life, traffic in narcotics, the climate of violence, political and social problems, migration, the foreign debt, sects and new religious movements, and the characteristics of the New Evangelization. In particular, the following are characteristics of the evangelizing action the Church in America is called upon to promote: dialogue with cultures, renewal of catechesis, revitalization of parochial life and appropriate use of the means of social communication.

The fourth chapter refers to the demands of new forms of cooperation between the local Churches of the continent, as a fruit of the vocation toward unity in Christ. Every race, every language and every culture offer the People of God a diversity of gifts which must be respected and held in trust as privileged places for ecclesiastical communion. This pluralism of gifts also serves to construct a society that is just and bonded by solidarity, a place where love reigns, where everyone feels responsible for the common good since we are all one in Christ. In this respect, the report covers various initiatives - referring to conversion, communion and solidarity- which will form the material for discussion among the small groups.

The fifth and last chapter opens a door to hope as a fundamental attitude which the Synodal Fathers wish to reaffirm in the present and future activity of the Church in America. The hope which the Pastors of the People of God place in America is not based on the human efforts of their own plans and proposals, but on the power of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ and the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Church in pilgrimage on the American continent.

In general, we can say that, in spite of social, economic, political and cultural differences, the relatio post disceptationem deals with the important common problems emerging from the plenary sessions and the general conviction that they will only be solved through solid collaboration between the local Churches of the continent. But over and above the local differences, the report once again affirms the characteristics of the identity of the Church in America reflected in its common Christian roots, in the reality of a young Church and in the wealth of cultural plurality.

[0269B-02.06] [00000] [Original text: Castilian]


There were 216 Fathers present during the Eighteenth General Congregation of this morning, which concluded at 11:00 a.m.


The Third Session of the Small Groups began after the Eighteenth General Congregation which was held this morning, and continued the discussion on the Synodal Theme.



The Small Groups to discuss the Synodal theme and prepare their reports, will continue their work during the next few days. They will meet according to the schedule provided in the "Working Calendar", published in Bulletin No. 1 of 15 November 1997.


The next Bulletins, No. 22 and No. 23, of Tuesday, 2 December 1997, will contain the summaries of the Relations of the Small Groups, that will be presented in the Hall in the course of the Nineteenth and Twentieth General Congregations and the summaries of the "in scriptis" interventions (interventions not pronounced in the Hall, but consigned only in writing).


During the period of the Small Groups, a Synodal Father will be available to the press at the briefings, in order to furnish information on the Synod of Bishops and Synodal works in general.

The next briefings for the linguistic groups, in the presence of a Synodal Father, will take place tomorrow, Saturday, 29 November 1997, at 11:30 a.m. in the usual places.

The next briefings will be announced through notices on the bulletin board of the Holy See Press Office.


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