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30 September-27 October 2001

"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.

English Edition


06 - 02.10.2001




Today, Tuesday 2 October 2001, the memory of the Holy Guardian Angels, in the presence of the Holy Father, in the Synod Hall of the Vatican, the Third General Congregation on the Synod theme The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World began at 09.05 a.m. with the prayer of the Third Hour, for the continuation of the interventions in the Hall. The President Delegate on duty was His Em. Card. Bernard AGRE, Archbishop of Abidjan.

This General Congregation concluded at 12.25 with the prayer Angelus Domini; 247 Fathers were present.


At the opening of the Third General Congregation, the President Delegate on duty offered greetings for the name day of the Synod Fathers on the occasion of today’s feast:

Today the Church holds the liturgical memory of the Latin Rite of the Guardian Angels. Our doctrine is: the Lord, with the ministry of the guardian angels, enlightens, protects, holds and governs not only individual persons, but the whole Church, peoples, cities and communities. That is why we wish to pray to our Guardian Angels for them to also protect our communities, to guide us and protect everybody in our common journey which is the Synod. Likewise, we pray for our brothers who at their Baptism have taken the name of the angels. They are His Em. Card. Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State and H.E. Most Rev. Angelo Massafra, Archbishop of Scodro in Albania. To them we bestow our most warm wishes.


The following Fathers intervened:

Below are the summaries of the interventions:

H.E. Most Rev. José Mario RUIZ NAVAS, Archbishop of Portoviejo, President of the Episcopal Conference (Equador).

Vatican Council II has proposed Episcopal Collegiality as an authentic form of exercising the Episcopal Ministry together with the Successor of Peter. They have made great strides.

However, it is possible to improve the experience of collegiality life and collegial spirit as well as collegial behaviour.

As regards Episcopal Synods and the running of Episcopal Conferences, the Pope stated that "a great deal has been done; but a great deal certainly remains to be done in order to express in a better way the potentiality of these instruments of communion (MA 44.2).

I think that the axis for reflection regarding Episcopal Conferences in "Apostolos suos" and in Istrumentum Laboris is that of his power.

Each Bishop is expected to apply the pastoral lines given at the Episcopal Conference to his Local Church. There cannot be a veto not even on small parts.

It is a matter of the Episcopal Conferences being "a home and school of communion" (43).

It is a matter of the Episcopal Conferences being a meeting place with the Living Christ, inviting to conversion, communion and solidarity by his gestures and words.

It is above all for these same virtualities to show themselves in usual relations of Episcopal Conferences with the See of Peter and not only in relations with each Bishop.

One has to shift the axis of interpretation of the Episcopal Conferences from power to communion - without denying it and not even minimizing it.

The Synod - I submit to the considerations of the Pope the opportunity that the Assembly looks for a text which expresses its conclusions taking into account that the Pope can give a word of direction at any time during the deliberations. The text could be less organised and complete, but would be a clearer result of the collegiality of the Bishop with the Pope. Waiting for the documents reduces enthusiasm.

The Ad Limina Apostolorum Visit.

As already noticed many times it would be opportune for each Episcopal Conference to hold meetings with the Dicasteries in a collegial manner in order to better analyze the challenges in the different fields of pastoral work. Directions and guidelines already stem from this dialogue.

[00034-02.05] [in015] [Original text: Spanish]

H. Em. Card. László PASKAI, O.F.M., Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest (Hungary).

I feel the need to mention a chapter separate from the office and the Successor of the Blessed Apostle Peter. A) The reason being, on one hand, thus to express clearly the doctrine of the Church in our time, where the common sentiment is against authority and hierarchy. B) On the other hand, the person and the service of the Supreme Pontiff has given great spiritual force and strength to the faithful in the past, during the Christian persecutions. This fact was expressed also by the Supreme Pontiff during his last pastoral travel.

I would like to mention what is said in point 131 of the Instrumentum Laboris, which speaks about ecumenism: A) In some places besides the ecumenical liturgy of the Word of God,there is also the need, rather, the practice, of the ecumenical liturgy of the Eucharist, which however is the fruit of complete communion. B) At this point, I may also add the words of the Metropolitan Kyrillos, the delegate from the Orthodox Patriarchy of Moscow, who during the month of August visited me and said: Many challenges are present in our times, such as indifference, relativism, secularism, etc. Modern and actual answers may come into ecumenism according to the ancient common tradition, the answers may reinforce the faithful in the various Christian communities in facing these challenges.

[00035-02.03] [in017] [Original text: Latin]

H.E. Most Rev. Nikol Joseph CAUCHI, Bishop of Gozo (Malta).

In the documents of Vatican Council II, the Bishops are called "heralds of the faith", "authentic teachers" and "witnesses of divine and Catholic truth". In fact the Constitution Lumen Gentium (no. 25) says: "Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be respected by all as witnesses of divine and catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, should concur with their bishop’s judgment made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and adhere to it with a religious docility of spirit".

The Code of Canon Law, no. 756 par. 2, prescribes that: "For the particular Churches entrusted to them, that office (of proclaiming the Gospel) is exercised by the individual Bishops, who are the moderators of the entire ministry of the Word in their Churches". Obviously this ministry of the Word pertains also to the Social Doctrine of the Church.

It is known that the Church in every time and in every situation has a triple role in society which consists in: (1) announcing the truth about dignity and the rights of man, (2) denouncing the existing unjust situations and (3) contributing to the realization of positive changes to society.

The Encyclical Sollecitudo Rei Socialis, number 41, says that "The condemnation of evils and injustices is also part of that ministry of evangelization in the social field which is an aspect of the Church's prophetic role. But it should be made clear that proclamation is always more important than condemnation". The Encyclical continues saying that "The teaching and spreading of her social doctrine are part of the Church's evangelizing mission." and therefore is also one of the Bishops’. If it is true that with their teaching the Bishops should guide the moral conduct of the individuals entrusted to them, it follows that they must also support them in favor of "the commitment to justice".

[00036-02.04] [in018] [Original text: Italian]

H.E. Most Rev. Carlos AGUIAR RETES, Archbishop of Texcoco (Mexico).

The Instrumentum Laboris describes the identity of the Bishop as a prophet of hope (IL 12) and the episcopal mission as first of all a service and above all to promote hope in the world (IL 13 and 14). For this, the Bishop must direct the whole work of Evangelization towards the service of hope (IL 34 and 46).

We are living a change in times where traditional references (cultural, moral and religious) for social dynamism frequently remain banished, put aside or even rejected.

The characteristics of the time (18-24) show the current complexity, which hinders the mission of the Bishop (IL 56, 144 and 148), especially to exert it as a witness of Hope (IL 32-34).

No.77 in Instrumentum Laboris on the "Election and formation of Bishops" briefly refers to the permanent formation of Bishops, seeking doctrinal, pastoral and spiritual updating together with an increase in collegial communion which will benefit pastoral care of the respective Dioceses.

It is necessary to recognise that we Bishops need each other, we cannot achieve our mission in an isolated way (IL 67). However, we need each other not only to put in common our projects and pastoral plans but also to recreate a spirit of the Apostolic College in a human and spiritual dimension (Mk 3:24). We must humbly accept that Bishops need permanent formation in order to revive the gift of God which was entrusted to us in Episcopal Ordination (2Tm 1:6).

If all the members of the Church require this (Cfr. "Christifideles Laici", Chap V, "Pastores Dabo Vobis", Chap. Vl and "Vita Consecrata" Nos. 69-71), there is even more reason for us Bishops to take care of our permanent formation with special commitment.

[00037-02.03] [in019] [Original text: Spanish]

H. Em. Card. Zenon GROCHOLEWSKI, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (Vatican City).

The Instrumentum Laboris describes the identity of the Bishop as a prophet of hope (IL 12) and the episcopal mission as first of all a service and above all to promote hope in the world (IL 13 and 14). For this, the Bishop must direct the whole work of Evangelization towards the service of hope (IL 34 and 46).

We are living a change in times where traditional references (cultural, moral and religious) for social dynamism frequently remain banished, put aside or even rejected.

The characteristics of the time (18-24) show the current complexity, which hinders the mission of the Bishop (IL 56, 144 and 148), especially to exert it as a witness of Hope (IL 32-34).

No.77 in Instrumentum Laboris on the "Election and formation of Bishops" briefly refers to the permanent formation of Bishops, seeking doctrinal, pastoral and spiritual updating together with an increase in collegial communion which will benefit pastoral care of the respective Dioceses.

It is necessary to recognise that we Bishops need each other, we cannot achieve our mission in an isolated way (IL 67). However, we need each other not only to put in common our projects and pastoral plans but also to recreate a spirit of the Apostolic College in a human and spiritual dimension (Mk 3:24). We must humbly accept that Bishops need permanent formation in order to revive the gift of God which was entrusted to us in Episcopal Ordination (2Tm 1:6).

If all the members of the Church require this (Cfr. "Christifideles Laici", Chap V, "Pastores Dabo Vobis", Chap. Vl and "Vita Consecrata" Nos. 69-71), there is even more reason for us Bishops to take care of our permanent formation with special commitment.

[00037-02.03] [im019] [Original text: Spanish]

H. Em. Card. Paul POUPARD, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture (Vatican City).

The "munus docendi", which the Instrumentum Laboris emphasizes, does not only include the personal teaching of the Bishop, but substantially also many other direct commitments in ensuring that the Word of God is faithfully and efficaciously taught. In a special way, this deals with the attention for the centers of formation of the collaborators in teaching, that is to say, for the Catholic schools and universities, for the ecclesiastical universities and faculties, for the institutes of religious sciences and for the fruitful collaboration with theologians. The necessary and responsible presence of the Bishop in these institutions must be underlined.

Among these commitments to the "munus docendi", however, in the first place I would place the attention on the adequate and solid preparation of priests. These, in fact, are the main collaborators of the Bishop in teaching and in pastoral ministry in general. Along with the seminaries, the theological faculties also come into play. Their primary finality, in fact, is still the doctrinal preparation of priests.

It would be useful to underline the Bishops’ responsibility in having qualified formators in seminaries, who can be distinguished by their excellent priestly and human virtues, for their faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Church, for their pastoral fervor and for their continuous updating.

We should also recall the necessity of safekeeping the specific configuration of the seminary, as an institution that truly forms priests that acknowledge their identity, their own spirituality, their own responsibility, their high and irreplaceable mission.

Closely linked to the preparation of priests and inserted in the "munus docendi" of the Bishop is, without a doubt, the obligation to promote priestly vocations. Success depends on various factors connected between each other. However, I do think that in the first place one must place the emphasis on teaching the identity of the ministerial priesthood, his specific irreplaceable and important role in the Church. At times, the priesthood is mixed up with many other ecclesial ministries, without perceiving that the common priesthood of the faithful (which is referred to by all the other ministries) and the ministerial priesthood "essentia et non gradu tantum differ [u]nt" (LG 10b); that the ministerial priesthood is necessary so all the others, lay and consecrated persons, may adequately achieve their apostolate. The confusion on this matter is most certainly an obstacle in efficaciously confronting vocational promotion.

[00038-02.04] [in020] [Original text: Italian]

H.E. Most Rev. John Patrick FOLEY, Titular Archbishop of Neapolis in Proconsulari, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (Vatican City).

In the terrible tragedy in America, the media helped to bring together not only the people of one nation but the people of the world -- and the media often focused on our Holy Father as he led people in prayer for the victims of the tragedy and their families and for peace in the world. The terrorist attacks of one day and the media coverage of many days reminded people that we have not here a lasting city, that we must all be ready to face the judgment of God and that we can be united with those who are suffering in prayer and in acts of charity. Most people -- at least in Western society –don’t deny the existence of God; many don't even give it a thought. For me, there is no mandate more clear in the New Testament than the words: "Teach all nations". To do that, we must communicate. We must communicate not only to those who have faith, in order that their faith might be deepened and strengthened. We must, above all, communicate to those who have no faith -- to those who are searching for truth and meaning in life and even, and perhaps especially, to those who are not searching because they do not know they are lost. Our evening examination of conscience, as bishops, should every day include the questions: "What am I doing to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ and His Church? What am I failing to do? What could I do better?" A document on ethics in advertising received widespread recognition, and it gave us a way to evangelize a world which had previously been rather closed to the Church. The Church has been involved in advertising for 2,000 years; we call it evangelization, and we offer more than a lifetime guarantee. We subsequently published a document on ethics in communications and we are currently working on two documents regarding Internet: ethics in Internet and possible pastoral uses of Internet by the Church. I would advise reading again the pastoral instruction "Aetatis Novae", "At the Dawn of a New Era", which includes elements for developing a pastoral plan in communications. Are we making formation in communications a priority in our seminaries and religious houses and in continuing education programs for clergy and religious and our lay faithful? Do we encourage creativity? It is not enough to guarantee orthodoxy in a message if no one is listening to it. It is important to be right; it is also important not to be ignored. We must not forget the importance of the obvious media in Church life: signs outside our churches, which list the times of services and express a welcome to all; informative parish bulletins; diocesan newspapers which can do so much to foster a sense of diocesan family identity and to provide ongoing Catholic education; Catholic radio programming, which can bring religious information and consolation to the home, the workplace or even the automobile; effective distribution of Catholic videocassettes and books. We should also recall the importance of effective public relations -- accessibility to and honesty with the media; creativity in providing interesting story ideas to the media; thinking of how best to make religious events and ceremonies available to a wider audience. Through the communications media, we can reach not only all nations but every person. Our message is all important and compelling; it is as messengers that we must not fail.

[00039-02.04] [in021] [Original text: English]

H. Em. Card. Joachim MEISNER, Archbishop of Köln (Germany).

The crisis of faith in the Church is an expression of one of the greatest crises in culture, but has consequences in a form of auto-secularization, for which the organs of the Church are responsible, for example also with those who exercise the episcopal ministry. There are not few Bishops, in fact, who do not recognize the gravity of the situation, others who interpret the tendency towards separation in the faith like prolific tensions that may well reach in the future a new synthesis and recognize their mystery like an "office of moderation" among the various opposing positions.

Such comprehension of the episcopal ministry is so diffused that the episcopate in fact suffers not only from a loss of authority that comes from outside, but that—involuntarily—favors also the giving up of authority which comes from within. Consequently, the pastoral minister of the Bishop becomes minimized, reducing his just to human care for the faithful, to the courteous comprehension and the understanding of the charisms present in the lay faithful. In this way one cannot recognize the essence of this ministry which implies a clear and unequivocal right to govern, including also an element of jurisdiction.

From this analysis comes the urgency for an authoritative testimony on the part of the priests. The Bishop is no longer a pious private believer, but a public witness. He must confront the problems present in the ecclesiastical world, not only to save himself, but also to defend the faith, to correct the errors and to deepen the reality. He cannot separate himself from the actual situation of faith in society, but must give testimony to the faith, considering also the danger and harm.

The power of the Bishop for the testimonium fedei is not restricted only to prayer. He is also responsible for the doctrinal judgment of the faith which comes, above all from the power of government and demands setting regulations, correction and justice around the doctrine of the faith. The potestá testandi reaches its fullness in the potestas iudicandi. In consequence the Bishops are not only called to bear witness, feed and care for the faith, but also to judge it, to discipline it and to impose it accordingly. But that does not come in full autonomy and independence, but demands unity with the universal jurisdictional power of the Supreme Pontiff. In this point of view, in the discussion of the faith the Bishop is called and able to pronounce, within his diocese and in consideration of the universal doctrine of the faith, judgement on what is true and what is wrong. On the basis of this ability to judge operated by the Spirit, the Bishop may serve his Church like a judging and enlightening force of the faith. From this he finds the affirmation confirmed: "Where the Bishop is, there is also the Church."

[00040-02.03] [1m022] [Original text: Italian]

H. Em. Card. William Henry KEELER, Archbishop of Baltimore (Unites States of America).

The national and regional conferences of bishops are indispensable as servants of communion between the bishops of the particular churches and the Universal Church.

In the area of catchesis and catechetical materials, the introduction and adaptation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church would have been impossible in the United States of America without the work of the Episcopal Conference. Their efforts have earned the cooperation and gratitude of the publishers of catechetical texts for children. In the communion of the Bishops’ Conference, our bishops were fulfilling and continue to fulfill an essential teaching role.

In the field of ecumenical and interreligious affairs our country is blessed with particular opportunities and unique challenges. We have a very rich ecumenical and interreligious menu, possibly the most extensive in the world. Representatives of almost every Christian ecclesial tradition and non-Christian religion can be found among us. We fulfill in a special way the reflections found in the 1993 Ecumenical Directory asserting that it is often on the regional and national levels that particularly effective work can be accomplished (cf. nn. 28-34, inter alia). Two examples may be given:

The national Catholic-Lutheran dialogue co-sponsored by our Episcopal Conference made significant contributions to the worldwide Declaration on Justification by Faith signed in 1999 by representatives of the Holy See and the World Lutheran Federation.

Despite the difficulties between Catholics and Orthodox on the international level the national Catholic-Orthodox theological consultation and the Committee of Catholic-Orthodox Bishops in the United States meet regularly. The consultation continues to produce documents of a doctrinal and practical nature. These are welcomed in our Episcopal Conference and provide some assistance and support to our international efforts at dialogue. The national coordination of the work of many dialogues, involving a considerable number of our bishops, is both necessary and fruitful.

The Liturgy is a living expression of the faith and the life of the Catholic community. Through it the Church's teaching office is constantly, even if less obviously, being exercised. However, translations and decisions regarding the implementation of the Constitution of the Liturgy and subsequent Roman documents would be impossible without the collaboration of the bishops of a given area through their Episcopal Conferences.

Over the years the Conference has published significant documents in the areas of Social Justice and Peace, and these have had a significant impact in our country and elsewhere. All of these activities imply a teaching dimension of the ministry of the bishops involved in the communion of the Bishops' Conference. Therefore, I propose that the propositions we present to the Holy Father include a request that, continuing the reflections begun by Apostolos Suos (1998), there be a more profound study of the role of Episcopal Conferences in support of the communion of the Church, a study which would also deepen our understanding of the specific task of these Conferences in teaching the Catholic faith to God's people in our day.

[00041-02.05] [IN023] [Original text: English]

Rev. Fr. François EID, O.M.M., Superior General of the Maronite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Union Of Superiors General).

The aggravation of the religious situation in the world renders a particularly dramatic life for christians in the land of Islam; in fact, like the consequences of their delusions, Islam appears more fundamentalist and more fanatic. All this is transformed into a fountain of deep discomfort and fear for the christian minority.

In this context, the Bishop becomes entrusted to an urgent mission, he who is a promoter of dialogue.

The coexistence of christians and muslims most represent the essential point of every dialogue, since it is in daily life that people meet, know each other, work together, understand each other and love each other.

Through the dialogue of actions, the Bishop will be the guide and the example in the struggle for justice, peace, liberty, the defense of life, the family and the dignity of man, in charity, in brotherhood and in the inalienable respect for freedom in faith and conscience. And in this spirit of working together the Bishop orients his faithful to develop an authentic education for peace.

The theological dialogue must be direct from the Bishop with dilligence, without prejudice and with a deep conscience of the specificity of the other, insisting on the sincere search for common truths.

The piety lived by believers of the two great religions between themselves reaches intimacy with God and forms a single heritage of religious experience.

Consequently, for the Bishop, the commitment to leave in the open and help the faithful to free themselves from the ignorance and prejudices against the other, to clear religious discourse from every aggression generated by tension, to encourage the faithful to attach themselves to their land, to their country and approach the state institutions for the safeguarding of the rights of the individual and of the community.

In this way christians and muslims may loosen their tensions and conflicts for a life of cooperation in the service of humanity.

[00060-02.02] [in024] [Original text: French]

H.E. Most Rev. Gheorghi Ivanov JOVČEV, Bishop of Sophia and Plovdiv (Bulgaria).

In his intervention he expressed great appreciation for the choice of the theme of hope, for which the Bulgarian people feel a special need after the fall of utopias and the advent of a capitalism without rules.

He recalled the brilliant contribution of the martyr Bishops his predecessors and illustrated the current commitment of the Catholic Church in his Country for the faithful reception of the Council and post-Council teachings as well as for the full revitalisation of all the components of the Christian community, which actively intends participating in the great challenges which await the Catholic Church in today’s world.

He then suggested a more in-depth tackling both of the neo-testamentary origin of the Episcopate and of the importance of the sacrament of Confession.

On concluding, he wished all Bishops to be "good and faithful ministers" of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the "Woman of Hope".

[00059-02.02] [iN025] [Original text: Italian]

H.E. Most Rev. Nestor NGOY KATAHWA, Bishop of Kolwezi (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Entry into the Third Millennium seems like an appeal made to the Church and to humanity for their renewal. This Synodal Assembly, which deals with Bishops, tells us that renewal must begin in the Order of the Episcopate. We, the Bishops, must therefore renew ourselves at the beginning of this new era. My intervention limits itself to mentioning a few aspects to illustrate the need, for us Bishops, to convert.

With our title of "Princes of the Church", we are led to cultivating the search for human honors and privileges, while the King, in reference to our being "Princes", finds His glorification on the Cross.

The practice of our ministry of sanctification is generally reduced to ritual exercises without spirit, superficial and expedited, without any great interiorization. And the theory of ex opere operato efficacy leads us to believe that we are dispensed from being in a state of holiness for the fruitful administration of the Sacraments and sacramentals.

In preaching the Word of God, we have a tendency to address the message to others without taking the care in seeing that this message concerns us in the first place.

Our ministry of the government of the People of God is often characterized by favoritism and social discrimination: we are more at ease with the powerful and the rich than with the poor and the oppressed. And the fact that we maintain sole legislative, executive and judicial powers is a temptation for us to act like dictators, more so inasmuch as our mandate has no limitations.

Often, the Bishop even believes that devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is an option. How can we be ministers, friends and brothers of Jesus Christ without being the children of Mary?

We must truly be careful, in our lives and in our ministries, to avoid disconnecting from the Cross of Christ, which is the source of our Christian identity. Without this, we run the risk of finding other masters such as the Rose-Cross, the Freemasons, magic, sorcery... The Catholic Church is accused of having perverted today’s humanity. We the Bishops are those this is aimed directly at.

This Synod is for us an occasion to delve into examining our conscience and to convert. It opened the day after the Feast of the Archangels who fight the forces of evil, and will proceed during the entire month of October, the where we celebrate Mary crushing the Serpent’s head. We should understand these signs. Through our conversion, the Church will find renewed vigor in its mission and the face of the earth will be renewed.

[00058-02.02] [in026] [Original text: French]

H.E. Most Rev. Jesús PÉREZ RODRÍGUEZ, O.F.M., Archbishop of Sucre (Bolivia).

Among the constituting and essential functions forming an indispensable part of the episcopal ministry, there is that of "teaching", in other words, of "announcing the Gospel of Christ".

This is the fundamental and profound reason that qualifies the Bishop as the first catechist of the particular Church entrusted to him, in communion with the College of Bishops and the Bishop of Rome.

We live in a world characterized by tremendous social inequality, the contradictory phenomenon of globalization, marginalization, poverty and the exclusion of hundreds of millions of human beings who invoke heaven for their total liberation. In the same way, human progress, the unlimited achievements of technology and science, media culture and the socio-economic and political consequences known to derive from these, are part of the many challenges now facing evangelization and catechesis.

We should take into account the ‘political’ dimension of the episcopal ministry and of the situations characterized by permanent or prolonged social conflicts in certain countries and geographical areas. The Bishop should respond with the commitment, publicly made, to the God of life with the poorest, those excluded from the benefits of creation, in order to ensure their liberation.

The development of the episcopal ministry, as of the life and mission of the entire Church, are not a marginal part of this realty. On the contrary, they are the opportunity for the proclamation and growth of the Kingdom of God.

These facts help configure, legitimize, qualify and provide a profile to a certain way of being and acting by the Bishop.

[00057-02.02] [in027] [Original text: Spanish]

Rev. Fr. Ab. D. Thierry PORTEVIN, O.S.B.Subl., President of the Order of Saint Benedict of Subiaco (Union of Superiors General).

Being the only monk among the delegates of the USG, I would like to call the attention of the Synod on monastic life.

Throughout times, the Magisterium has insisted upon the centrality and uniqueness of monastic life in the Church. The heart of its mission is, as we know, to search for God by living the Gospel in community, with a rule and an Abbot, in the cloister of the monastery, with as the primary and essential means: the Lectio divina, community and personal prayer and common living. In this central location, where "nothing should be preferred", all other material or spiritual activities are vain. To recall this to all religious and Christian life is one of the aspects of the profound mission of monastic life in the world and in the Church.

To help promote and to protect the part of religious life which is monastic life, as it is part of the pastoral charge of the Bishops (cf. Instrumentum Laboris, 92), I would like to call your attention to two points:

Canonical visits

Canonical visits, issued by Law and by the Constitutions, have as a finality the encouragement and assistance to the life of the monastic communities. Now, experience has proven that this finality is more easily achieved when the visitors know monastic life from within. Also, when the Bishop, entrusted with making this canonical visit in a community of Monks, does not have this experience, shouldn’t he be accompanied by a monk or a nun, for the circumstance, or delegate a monk or a nun to deal with this task (which requires time, time that the Bishop often does not have, which is comprehensible).

Not a Bishop of an Abbot

In fact, a good abbot may have in and after his monastery a greater and deeper influence in the Church than a monk-Bishop, which is not the same vocation. He always runs the risk of not respecting his vocation. Experience has proved also that by taking an abbot away may compromise a monastic community and thereby damage the entire Church. Finally, if this must be done, such a choice demands prudence, concertation - therefore, being able to speak about it - freely - with the freedom of the interested person in being able to refuse.

Within this second point, the same principle of the Ordinary Abbot may still be questioned by many monks and priests.

Thank you for the respect and the comprehension that many of you Bishops have for monastic life.

[00056-02.02] [ino28] [Original text: French]

H. Em. Card. Agostino CACCIAVILLAN, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (Vatican City).

Cardinal Cacciavillan began by noting that an "Instrumentum Laboris" of a Synodal Assembly whose theme is the Bishop can but mention the Sacraments, as pertaining to the spiritual life of the Bishop, who comes from a Sacrament and is nurtured by Sacraments in his calling to personal holiness, as well as, the ministry of the Bishop himself, who celebrates Sacraments for others and confers to others the exercise of his "munus-sanctificando" to the People of God. Bishops also have the responsibility of watching that abuses do not enter the ecclesial discipline, above all in the celebration of the Sacraments.

Then, Cardinal Cacciavillan pointed out various parts of the "Instrumentum Laboris" concerning the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation; two of the seven that face a problem and in truth the need for being practiced. It is the Bishops’ responsibility to ensure the availability of the priests and to promote participation to the Eucharist and the request for confession by the faithful.

In the program of "spiritual and pastoral duty" (no. 3) to which the Holy Father invites us in the Apostolic Letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte" at the conclusion of the Great Jubilee, the Sunday Eucharist (no. 35-36) and the sacrament of Reconciliation (no. 37) are proposed as priorities. In numbers 35-36, the Pope recalls the Apostolic Letter "Dies Domini" of 1998, and in number 37 the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Reconciliatio et paenitentia" of 1984. More could be mentioned about the pontifical magisterium regarding this beginning with the Encyclical "Redemptor Hominis" of 1979, where there is an ample part dedicated to the Eucharist and to Penance in number 20.

This is very important field, where doctrinal, disciplinary and pastoral reflection should urge forward, embracing the Supreme Pontiff’s appeal.

[00055-02.02] [in029] [Original text: Italian]

H. Em. Card. William Wakefield BAUM, Penitentiary Major (Vatican City).

The ministry of teaching is of the very essence of the Office of Bishop. The exercise of this office on the part of the Bishops, both residential and titular, must be carried out in complete harmony with the Bishop of Rome. In the particular Church this must be made ever more evident by the way the Bishop exercises his ministry. He must be seen as the preeminent teacher and spiritual leader within his own diocese.

The Bishop should meet with his priests frequently to face questions of doctrine and to assist them in deepening their own understanding of the mystery of faith. Above all, this teaching ministry must present clearly and forthrightly the truth about Jesus Christ. In our own time we have seen challenges to the doctrine of the faith concerning the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of Jesus as the Incarnate Word - true God and true man and the only Savior of the world. Nothing must be said or tolerated which calls into question, relativizes or denies this fundamental truth. To this end, we are deeply grateful for the recent document Dominus Iesus, which addresses these errors.

For many reasons and because of the pressures put on him, a Bishop may hesitate or become faint-hearted in exercising the office of teaching and in correcting error. If he is faithful to his responsibilities he wil1 inevitably become the target of much criticism and, even at times, ridicule from people both within and outside the Church. We must be prepared to follow in the footsteps of Peter, Paul, the Apostles, and the great bishops who have preceded us.

With reference to the Office of Bishop, specifical1y paragraph #48, Bishops should individually examine their own consciences especial1y with regard to the exercise of their teaching ministry. How often, because of sloth or timidity, have we failed to proclaim the truth about Christ and the truth about the human condition. This synodal assembly is, in itself, a God-given opportunity - a moment of grace - to examine ourselves anew. For us Bishops, as well as for those we serve, confession is good for the soul.

[00054-02.04] [in030] [Original text: English]

H.E. Most Rev. Héctor Miguel CABREJOS VIDARTE, O.F.M., Archbishop of Trujillo, Vice-President of the Episcopal Conference (Peru).

The Bishop, Teacher of the faith.

By vocation, Christ has entrusted us with the mission of being teachers of the faith, minds of evangelization, teachers of his doctrine. Being a minister of the Gospel means bringing salvation to the men and women God has entrusted to us, guiding them along the path of holiness.

Education for the family. The weakening of the institution of matrimony must lead us to solidly facing in our dioceses, starting from adolescence, a formation for marriage presenting the ideal of the great Christian values to increase the awareness of young people about the attractiveness of the model of the united family based on love. This is why we must include this formation in the programs for preparing for confirmation in view of the future family. Similarly, we must develop sexual education programs for Catholic schools, not merely to offer sexual information but rather oriented to forming the students towards the authentic sense of human love, mutual exchange of gifts and generosity.

Bioethics. This is a topic we must face immediately with formation programs aimed especially at physicians, nurses, biologists, researchers etc.. Many of them are Catholics who have to face serious ethical problems with a low level catechetical formation, and sometimes even with a knowledge of Catholic doctrine which is still at the level of preparation for First Communion; they need to go more deeply into the topic of faith and morals at the level required by the decisions they have to take now.

Catholic Universities. These efforts, however, require a well formed priesthood and laity. Only by starting from academic excellence enabling our pastoral agents to understand today’s men and propose the Gospel to them according to adequate procedures can we offer effective service to man and to the truth. Also, the Catholic universities provide a great contribution to the permanent formation of the clergy.

The Bishop, Shepherd of his flock.

Vocational promotion and the importance of the seminary. We must regain the spiritual guidance of youth, especially those who have vocational anxieties, retreats leading young people to reflect on and go deeply into the sense of their life, opening them to dialogue with God in an ambiance favorable to them. This must enter our list of priorities as Bishops.

Relationships with the Episcopal Conferences. We must take advantage of the bodies of communion, so that they may support the pastoral mission of the Bishops, avoiding a situation where we pastors turn into spokesmen for a group of experts working in the shadow of the Episcopal Conference. The Episcopal Conference is the natural place for the Bishops, extending their cooperation with other Bishops, may help each other to achieve their tasks in a proper and fruitful way.

Relationship with the religious. Obedience to the Bishop is not opposed to the ideal of the religious life; on the contrary it is a source of grace for the Church which is strengthened around its pastor and forms and important element in the sequela of Christ so that through the Church the religious priest mat obey the one whom Christ has appointed to guide this portion of his Church. The Holy Father, in the apostolic letter Novo millennio ineunte, has invited us to make charity the center of our ministry. Let us take the Holy Father’s invitation seriously, and trust in his leadership. He is Peter, the Pastor who confirms us in faith and leads us in Truth and in Life. Christ the Way offers him to us as His Vicar, as Head of His Church. We, His children, love Him and make efforts to live in love, bearing witness to Him before men.

[00053-02.02] [in031] [Original text: Spanish]

H.E. Most Rev. Jorge Enrique JIMÉNEZ CARVAJAL, C.I.M., Bishop of Zipaquirá President of the Latin American Episcopal Councils (C.E.L.AM.) (Colombia).

From the institutional point of view, the most interesting aspect of the decades following the conclusion of the Council is the development Episcopal Conferences. Not only did these bodies undergo significant multiplication, but above all they acquired an effective prestige, often representing in the end the reference point for the life of the local Churches and also for the relationships with society. Furthermore, the Episcopal Conferences have encouraged other bodies of communion at the continental level, such as in the case of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), the Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe, the Federation of the Conferences of the Catholic Bishops of Oceania, the Confederation of the Episcopal Conferences of Asia and the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

Undoubtedly the maturity shown today by the Episcopal Conferences of our Church is due to Vatican Council II, which above all in the Constitution Lumen Gentium has given an impulse to the church-communion, and with it to episcopal collegiality as an authentic form of undertaking the episcopal ministry together with the Successor of Peter.

Theological reflection has not been easy, and the changes which the topic has involved, in the structures of the Church or its functioning, are liable to considerable development. John Paul II, in Novo millennio ineunte, has thrown a new light on this and other topics and has invited us to review - from the viewpoint of communion - the ambiance and instruments required to

"ensure and safeguard communion" (cf. NMI 44, 1). He considers that in this field "Much has also been done...But there is certainly much more to be done, in order to realize all the potential of these instruments of communion" (cf. NMI 44, 2).

The development of the proposal of the Holy Father seems very suggestive and will be of great importance in various sectors, for that which our Catholic Church is called upon to be at the start of the third millennium. Among these sectors we can mention: the development of an authentic spirituality of Communion; transforming the Episcopal Conferences and all the structures of our Churches into "the home and school of communion" (NMI 43) and places of encounter with the living Jesus Christ; making the Synod of Bishops into an authentic body of collegiality; preparing in our Church fertile ground for transforming into reality the initiative of John Paul II of offering to the other churches a dialogue on the ministry of Peter.

[00062-02.03] [in032] [Original text: Spanish]



The second briefing for the language groups will be held on Wednesday, 3 October 2001 at 1.10 p.m. (at the briefing locations and with the Press Officers stated in Bulletin No. 2).

Audio-visual operators (cameramen and technicians) are kindly requested to apply to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for entry permits (very restricted).


The third information pool for the Synod Hall will be created for the prayer at the opening of the Sixth General Congregation on Thursday morning, 4 October 2001.

The lists for applying to the Information Pool are 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 both by an officer of the Holy See Press Office and from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.


The next Bulletin, No. 7, regarding the works of the Fourth General Congregation of the X Ordinary General Assembly of this afternoon will be available to accredited journalists on Wednesday, 3 October 2001, at the opening of the Holy See Press Office.





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