of the Commission for information of the
"The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World"
The Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops is only a working instrument for journalistic use and the translations from the original are not official.
17 - 09.10.2001
At 17:00 today Tuesday October 9th 2001, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the prayer Adsumus, the Fourteenth General Congregation of the X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began, for the continuation of the interventions of the Synodal Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal theme The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World. The President Delegate on duty was H. Em. Card. Bernard AGRE, Archbishop of Abidjan.
At the opening of the works of the Congregation, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, H. Em. Card Jan Pieter SCHOTTE, C.I.C.M. gave the following communication:
I would like to point out a variation that came about in our calendar.Tomorrow morning, the Working Groups will meet at 9:00 rather than at 9:30 as stated in the calendar
The Prayer of the Hour of Terce will be celebrated in each Working Group in its own location.
Then, at 16:00, a meeting of the Moderators and the Rapporteurs of the Working Groups will take place, in the Fourth Hall on the second floor of the General Secretariat.
Tomorrow morning, during the second session of the Working Groups, the balloting to elect the Rapporteurs of each Working Group will take place.
In the Vademecum, in Article fifty-four (54), the regulations for the elections are defined. We may read them together.
To achieve the elections in an informed way, it would be opportune to keep in mind the needs that emerge from the functions of the Rapporteur, as stated in Article fifty-three (53) of the Vademecum, which we will now read together.
[00254-02.003] [nnnnn] [Original text: Latin]
At this General Congregation which ended at 19:00 with the prayer Angelus Domini 221 Fathers were present.
The following Fathers intervened:
Below are the summaries of the interventions:
My intervention refers to the Instrumentum laboris, Nos. 85, 86 and 88, discussing the bishop as principle and moderator of unity in the particular Church and the relation between the bishop and the priests. The Council requires a new spirit, new knowledge, new understanding and new energy from the bishops in carrying out the mission entrusted to them. The events and documents after the Council have further examined the theology of the episcopal ministry and have clearly presented todays style and todays characteristics of the episcopal ministry and authority. First of all, there is the sense of responsibility and service according to the example of Jesus Christ who "came not to be served but to serve" (Mt 20:8).
Once, one spoke of the bishop as "maiestas a longe" (distant authority), or of a "distant bishop"; today, however, he is the "bishop of nearness". This means that the bishop must listen to the priests, inform them, ask for their advice and encourage them in a world, like todays, without values, liberalized and permissive.
The Church in her totality must be more of a Church that listens and learns. The bishops as those responsible for the choices and guidance of the particular Church must listen to the priests, and also the laity, and learn from them.
Only in this way can the bishop be the principle of unity and promoter of "communio" in his own diocese.
During the period of Socialism and Communism in many countries of Eastern Europe, there was a tendency requiring the separation of the bishops from the Pope, the priests from the bishop and the faithful from the priests. The purpose was the need to fragment the Church in order that no one could ever reconstruct it again. Nevertheless, this did not occur. The bishops played a decisive role. They were as one with the Pope, as one with the priests and one with the People of God, even at the cost of persecutions, of suffering through long years of emprisonment, at the cost of martyrdom and even death.
It is this testimony that requires us, todays bishops, to carry out, in a time of liberalism, a spirit of indifference, consumerism and hedonism, through the magisterial service, sanctification and pastoral mission, the mission of "angel of the particular Church ", of the Church within their own people, of the Church in Europe and in the world (cf. Rev 1:20).
[00228-02.03] [in188] [Original text: Italian]
Ever since Pope Leo XIII, in 1894, wrote on the like dignity and rank of Eastem and Western Churches, it became part of Catholic awareness that being exclusively western means being insufficiently Catholic. The difficulties Eastern Catholics experience become especially acute when it comes to helping them pastorally, such as by setting up an Eastem-rite parish in a Latin diocese. In spite of this repeated exhortation, from Vatican II's Christus Dominus, on the pastoral office of Bishops, to John Pau1 II's Ecclesia in Asia, on the pastoral situation in Asia, the much needed swing in mentality has still to come.
The problem is not simply one of taking care of diaspora Catholic communities in a Catholic Church of a different rite, but a matter of how the Church understands herself. It is rather a question of the apostolicity of the Church. Christ did not choose just one apostle, Peter, leaving it up to him to select his own team, but rather left little to chance and chose his vicar as well as his fellow apostles. If the St Thomas Christians are so proud of the tradition of having been evangelized by St Thomas, this shows how keenly felt it is that the "way of Thomas" is thoroughly reconcilable with the "way of Peter", and indeed, that without the way of Thomas the Church would be incomplete.
As Major Archbishop of the second Largest Catholic Eastern Church, and one of the most vital, I must confess before the Holy Father and my brother Bishops my inability in the present situation to provide adequate pastoral care for the faithful of our Church outside of our Church, outside of my relatively small proper territory and to find missionary fields for the numerous missionary vocations with which God has blessed our Church. Strange world! In the West they constantly bemoan the lack of vocations, adding that so much is jeopardized precisely because of this state of affairs; in the East the good of souls is in jeopardy because circumstances do not allow us to deploy our vast resources. If there is a sin against poverty in the Church, it is the unwillingness to pool resources; if there is a way of multiplication of the bread it is to address courageously a situation which calls for generosity and thinking big in the vineyard of the Lord. So I beg my fellow Bishops to make this sacrifice and help God's work.
But again, this amounts to pleading for a lost cause unless the Church's teaching on the Eastern Churches comes to be an integral part of the on-going formation of bishops. Here we have long ways to go since, as is well known, what the Church thinks about herself is a never finished treatise-- an unfinished symphony, if you like, since God's graces are greater than our lacunae. In this way, Bishops will be sensitized to think that, by the very fact of being ordained bishops, they belong not only to a Latin or an Eastern Church, but to the Church universal. That will help us to be qualified agents of communion among all the Churches of the Catholic Church.
[00229-02.04] [in189] [Original text: English]
Todays man feels the urgent need for hope. The tragic events of the century we left behind underline this, like the various threats such as intolerance and indifference, rising over the horizon of this newly begun century. The problems that harass todays humanity are many and not easily resolved. The Churchs concrete answer to these problems is the courageous and persevering proclamation of the Gospel of Christ and His message of forgiveness, of reconciliation and of peace; His message of peace for each individual and for all the Peoples.
The privileged witness of this message is the Bishop, a man who in virtue of being the authentic successor of the Apostles has placed himself at the service of the Gospel; a man who has become the teacher and the shepherd of the brothers, available for constant and trusting dialogue, joyful in his own vocation.
As pertains to the Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina, its Shepherds commit themselves, together with their priests, consecrated persons and faithful laity, to make their witness become the leaven of society and to make it possible to transmit the light of the Gospel into the economic, social and political realities of their Nation. While most of the consecrated persons operating on the territory of the local ecclesial districts remain faithful to the charism of their Institutes and commit themselves without reservation to the promotion of apostolic works, for the good of the Church and civic society; unfortunately, certain members of the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor and those expelled try to impose their own points of view in the individual Dioceses, substituting the authentic charisms of their Institute with pseudo-charisms, a serious threat for the Church and for her organizational and doctrinal unity. Suffice it to recall the sad events last summer when the protagonists of the aforementioned Order and a self-declared bishop: an old-style Catholic deacon expelled from his community, or a systematic disobedience to the same religious persons who for years have been in the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno.
Today, we can painfully see that the world is divided. This division concerns various sectors and has various origins. Unfortunately, there are also divisions in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and the universal sacrament of salvation. There is a growing consciousness that division veils the gaze toward the future.
Overcoming the divisions existing in the Church and in todays world offers a special charge of hope to todays humanity. The Church must not remain divided and is called to being one, holy, Catholic and apostolic; she is called to be communion and remaining united on the local as well as the universal level, always with the Successor of Peter at her head. Thanks to the Gospel, the Church presents herself to the world as a vital force capable of making it more united. In light of this, ecumenical dialogue re-acquires a new impetus. The same can be said about interreligious dialogue.
Europe can no longer be divided into Eastern and Western Europe. The world cannot remain divided between North and South, between rich and developed nations and poor and underdeveloped nations. The Nations cannot continue to be divided into civil Nations and Nations considered uncivil.
The answer to the divisions in todays world is the sincere dialogue between Nations and Peoples. No matter what the theme or the reason for dialogue, both sides are always involved. There can be no dialogue if one of the parts is not an active participant.
A great contribution to the commitment for overcoming the existing divisions could be given particularly through the means of social communication, which are capable of also being the privileged means for the proclamation of the Gospel. Those who work with these means and those who direct them have a great responsibility.
[00230-02.03] [in190] [Original text: Italian]
I will speak in the name of the Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh on two issues:
1) The Role of Proclamation of the Bishop. 2) His being as a Man of Prayer.
A bishop in a developing country is faced with tremendous challenges of human misery, terrorism, war and ethnic conflicts, unemployment, denial of human rights. He is to be a witness and servant of hope for men and women of today.
1. The Proclamation
Being the millennium of evangelization in Asia, Proclamation becomes a special role for bishops. The bishop takes the place of the Apostles as pastor for the proclamation of the Gospel as a message of hope for humanity torn by conflicts. His mission is to build the local Church 'as a communion of communities' around him, its Shepherd. Against the odds of the secular world, his preaching of the Word and his example will animate the people to a rebirth of a living hope.
Bishop is the first teacher of the faith. Most Catholics do not know their religion well. Hence, Catholics have been vulnerable to attacks from all corners and have gone astray. The Bishop must courageously proclaim the Word "in its entirety" and the people grow in their faith. The laity have the right to know the teachings of the Fathers, Vatican II and the recent Popes on delicate matters of moral and family life and their role in the building up of the Church. The Bishop should make them available to his people through publications, diocesan synods, seminars, pastoral letters, etc.
The bishop is the living presence of Christ in his Church. As a good shepherd in his total self-giving he creates a knowing and loving relationship with his flock. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, the Bishop governs and guides the poor, the needy and goes in search of the lost sheep to bring them back to the fold.
2. The Bishop, A Man Of Prayer
The bishop has been called to live in evangelical perfection before God and people. In following Jesus who constantly prayed for the Apostles, the bishop prays and becomes the symbol of prayer for his people. He is the unifying point in all aspects of spirituality among his people with the brother bishops of his region.
[00231-02.04] [in191] [Original text: English]
Carefully listening to the important preliminary report by the General Relator, a rich document full of mission for todays bishop, I felt crushed by the worlds expectations and the great polyvalence of the bishop, sent by Jesus Christ to all of humanity. How many of us during the holy Synod can say that they fulfill the needs of the calling of God and the realization of Gods Will in His Plan for Universal Salvation? Powerlessness? Discouragement? Abandonment?
But, with the interventions and communications, with the different experiences lived through the Church, I found myself immersed as in contemplation of what the Lord does with our people, our actions, even our failures, in favor of His people on the path. Evoking the noble and dignified figures of bishops, from yesterday and today, reassures, comforts and puts us back on our feet and onto the path of Hope. We go forth and we must walk as if we see the Invisible, in the following and in the manner of Christ Himself.
The Bishop, Icon of Christ.
Johns Gospel passage, in chapter 10 quoted in the Instrumentum Laboris, presents and illustrates full well the qualities and determinations of a true and good shepherd, who must invite all the bishops worthy of this name.
In reality, the contemplative look, which seems to be the first element drawn from the attitude of the Good Shepherd, does not appear in the text of John 10:1-21; the same can be said about the heart filled with compassion. The verb that expresses this feeling or this attitude of Christ (splagnízomai, to be moved to compassion, to be overwhelmed by pity, to be committed) is never used by the author of the fourth Gospel. The Synoptics used it to underline the attitude of Jesus before the crowds (Mt 9:36; 15:32; Mk 6:34, 8:2) or before the sick who call to him (Mt 14:14, 20:34; Mk 1:41); at times, even Jesus Himself intervenes without being called upon (Lk 7:13).
This feeling, which is far from being pity or simple condescendence, appears to be an important element in Jesus therapeutic or healing action; it is the element that moves His actions, because He communes in a certain way with the suffering and the legitimate aspirations of those following Him, soliciting Him or meeting Him. This communion leads Him to make the salvific actions. These are such feelings or attitudes that must underlie the pastoral action of the Bishop.
The Bishop, Witness of Hope.
Contrary to the Greek usage that employing the term ,elpís, for the expectation of happiness as well as for the apprehension of unhappiness in the Old Testament, Hope (tikwá) always looks back to the expectation of happiness; this is an expectation full of trust in the protection and blessing of God.
If Hope is defined in the current language as the feeling that allows to foresee as probable the realization of what one desires or wishes, the term also points out the person or the thing that is the object of Hope.
Hope emerges from this painful experience (suffering, lack, handicap, need), this desire to want to emerge from this state or situation. Christ was for His contemporaries the subject and the object of Hope at the same time. He is the One who, by His teachings, His miracles or acts of power, His comforting words, incites Hope. He also bears in Him the Hope of humanity. For the Apostle Paul for example, Hope is above all "to be with Christ" (Phil 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8); Paul does not expect to find his own personal happiness, but simply someone he loves; this Christ, the Hope of glory (Col 1:24-29), he wishes to reveal Him to the pagans; Christ is Hope itself (1 Tim 1:1). By becoming Man, He took on mans weaknesses and even in the darkest moments of His Passion, He lived Hope...
This Hope that the Bishop must witness has a dual context: a material one inasmuch as the promoter of a better life through social or charitable actions and socio-economic achievements, and an eschatological one because it must lead to another finality. In Jesus encounter with the Samaritan (Jn 4:1-42), starting with the water theme, Christ leads her to the desire to possess true water. Jesus tells her: "no one who drinks the water that I shall give him will ever be thirsty again: the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water, welling up for eternal life". The woman says to Him: "Sir, give me some of that water, so that I may never be thirsty or come here again to draw water". The same can be said about the other themes mentioned in this text: worship or adoration (4:20-24), the Messiah (25-26). Jesus leads the Samaritan from immediate realities towards spiritual realities. This is how the Bishop must act; leading those who ask for a material good towards spiritual goods, towards the realities from on high. But the temptation is great to throw oneself into and be complaisant about works of good, political and social works. This becomes the panacea of his mission, forgetting that by actin this way he distances himself from the primary objective of the Church: elevating man towards spiritual goods. Certainly, these temporal actions make the Bishop a shepherd who incites Hope; but he must not be content with inciting this Hope, he must force himself to incarnate it through his life of poverty directed towards that of Christ and through the practice of the virtues inherent to his mission. By being at the same time the subject and the object of Hope, like his teacher, he may truly become the witness of Hope.
At the time of the forum on national reconciliation organized in the Ivory Coast, the Episcopal Conference, duly invited, will draw from this holy Synod the resources necessary to sow the seed of Hope in the heart of this Nation searching for an equilibrium, for justice and peace, in nomine Christi.
[00232-02.03] [in192] [Original text: French]
One duty of the bishop is to encourage the development of genuine Christian hope. One could say that there is considerable silence and some confusion on such Christian hope especially as it touches the Last Things, death and judgment, heaven and hell.
Limbo seems to have disappeared, purgatory has slipped into limbo, hell is left unmentioned, except perhaps for terrorists and infamous criminals, while heaven is the final and universal human right; or perhaps just a consoling myth.
Many Westerners are reluctant to concede that true freedom is found only in truth and equally reluctant to accept a Creator God who requires people to move towards the truth. So too there was a reluctance to accept that serious evil can be freely chosen and is different from the fruits of ignorance. But September Eleventh might be changing this.
Christian teaching on the resurrection of the body and the establishment of a new heavens and earth, the Heavenly Jerusalem, are a vindication of the values of ordinary decent living, while. the Final Judgment, the separation of the good from the evil, marks the establishment of universal justice not found in this life.
Bishops should encourage poets, artists and theologians to fire the imaginations of future generations on the attainment of the goals of Christian hope, as the genius of Dante and Michelangelo did for earlier generations.
[00233-02.03] [in193] [Original text: English]
1. The Great Jubilee has become a source of grace that has done an immense good to the Church. It has been an encounter with the living Christ. However, how should the fruits of the Great Jubilee be developed in the new millennium?
2. We have all been struck by growing violence, by the terrorist attacks, by injustice and by ignorance in the life and death of so many innocent people. There is an intensification of armed conflict, hate and vendetta.
3. It is in this field of uncertainty and upheaval that the Synod is taking place to announce to all that "Jesus Christ is the definitive hope for the world", the only savior who defeats sin, overcomes hate and helps us to "defeat evil with good".
4. The Successors of the Apostles, united with the Pope and among themselves, have the priority to undertake the providential service and mission of proclaiming and witnessing the mystery of communion desired by Jesus. Beyond every division and every discrimination, we are sons and daughters of God, called upon to live in the brotherhood in Christ.
5. At the start of the new millennium, disciples of Jesus Christ, we are summoned, pastors and all the people of God, to implement the ideal of a "living, evangelized and evangelizing Church which renews in our days the beauty of the testimony of the new-born Church, according to the Acts of the Apostles: "They remained faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers" (Acts 2:43; 4:32). Love was the basis of a new social order uniting Jews and Gentiles, men and women, and the members of all the social classes, proclamation of the Kingdom to come (Gal 3:28).
6. I would like to present, according to the suggestions of the Episcopal Conference, the modest testimony of what is happening today in Brazil, after the grace of the Great Jubilee of 2000. Just as the Great Jubilee has been propitious to "the encounter with the Living Christ", in continuity with this grace, we have, over the following two years, been reading and meditating the Acts of the Apostles, In the light of Catholic tradition we are seeking to encounter the living Church which Jesus Christ founded and animates with His Spirit. It is a matter of living with passion the mystery of the Church of the Risen Jesus which strengthens the certainty of future rewards (the eschatological hope). May the Church (in all the dioceses, parishes, prayer and reflection groups, family groups, religious communities and movements) be a Church that prays with Mary, Mother of Jesus, who confides in the Father, who listens to the Word of God, docile to the Holy Spirit, in continuous conversion, author of communion and reconciliation, open to dialogue, missionary, at the service of all and especially of the poor, and intrepid and fearless promoter of justice, solidarity and peace. This program of evangelization gradually becomes a new Pentecost.
7. I would like to propose that the Synod of Bishops bring to all in its Final Message, as a real fruit of this assembly, an appeal that the Great Jubilee of Jesus Christ continue in the program of "being Church in the new millennium". There could be a period of time, for example two years, to be extended to the dioceses of the whole world, of renewal of convinced faithfulness and love towards the Church, appealing to the faithful who have drawn away and offering to all the message of salvation.
8. I would also like to add the proposal of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference that the Synod of Bishops, in profound union with the Holy Father, summon in this difficult moment the faithful Christians, believers, Jews, Muslims and people of good will to make to God a common prayer and offer the work and sacrifices for peace and reconciliation among the nation and groups in conflict. The world is awaiting our word of hope to renew faith in God and to give sense to life, especially in the young.
[00234-02.03] [in194] [Original text: Italian]
Such an invitation to trust and hope, in the first place, pertains to the College of Bishops in communion with the Successor of Peter who, from the beginning of his Papacy, asked humanity to not fear opening the doors to the Redeemer. The Paschal message of hope urges us to "put out into the deep" following the Holy Fathers consignment (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 15), to banish fear, especially fear of necessary reform, to place real problems with trust in the Holy Spirit, to abandon the calm of the beaten paths to explore new ways of evangelization suggested by the signs of the times (cf. Lk 12:54-56).
To humanity deeply divided by social fractures and a political culture that integrates the powerful and the rich while excluding the weak and the poor, the Bishop must proclaim the Gospel of the Church-family of God. "What have you done to your brother?" the Bishop must cry to all those who take pleasure in injustice, oppression, the violation of human rights and dignity, arms-trafficking, the organization still in existence today of slavery, an abominable and iniquitous crime.
To a tired world ruined by wars and conflicts with their parade of hate, aggressiveness and violence, to a humanity crushed by genocide and other attempts on life, the Bishop proclaims the Gospel of life and peace: the life Christ came to give us abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10); true peace, the one only Christ can give (cf. John 14:27). Such a gospel will oblige the Bishop to harmoniously integrate nationalism and patriotism on one hand and universal fraternity and pastoral charity on the other, practicing as much as possible a ministry of mediation and of reconciliation between brothers enemies.
Finally, in Africa as in the Third World, the Bishop must preach the Good News of liberation of authentic evangelic poverty and of the Cross. Not only because "we are preaching a crucified Christ" (1 Cor 1:23), but also because, with his people, the Bishop experiences poverty. He must often bear the weight of the misery and the material and spiritual distress of a people who, through intuition and good sense, spontaneously turn to the Church to find in Her material and spiritual salvation. Just like Paul VI during one of his apostolic travels, the Bishop has difficulty in holding back his tears when facing a skeleton-like child condemned to death because of the hardness of heart of those who establish or support corrupt political systems, lacking respect towards human dignity founded on the Incarnation of Christ.
The sacramental nature of the Church instinctively perceived by a people searching for integral salvation as brought by Christ to the poor, the oppressed and the left-aside, is worthy of a deeper theological reflection, especially with regards to the evangelization of the political world. This is also a part of the service to the Gospel for Hope in the world. May the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of wisdom and counsel, help us thanks to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.
[00244-02.03] [in195] [Original text: French]
The Instrumentum Laboris invites the Church to ask herself how Christ and his Gospel are to be proclaimed today at a time when we recognize both the unity of the human family and its pluralism of nations, languages and cultures. The Gospel message must enter each of our cultures; the achievement of such evangelization demands collaboration for the Church' s magisterium. Therefore our Holy Father has said that the Petrine ministry and Episcopal collegiality 'need to be examined constantly' and he underlined the importance of such examination for ecumenical dialogue.
Primacy and collegiality are both gifts to the Church and they should be exercised in such a way that they serve and express the fundamental reality of the Church as communion of churches. Communion involves mutual recognition and respect, confidence and trust, openness and reciprocal communication. The Church must ensure that primacy and collegiality are exercised in balance with each other. Due to historical developments, there is an imbalance in the exercise of primacy and collegiality. Two suggestions for improvement are made.
l) The bishop in his diocese must be recognized as the teacher, the leader, the unifier, 'the vicar and ambassador of Christ'. His role is stifled if popular perception thinks he is merely giving a teaching from a centralized level of Church. On the other hand when full and health-giving collaboration is evident, the Bishop is able to exercise fully his munera and primacy and collegiality are thereby strengthened.
2) The Church entering the new millennium has received a wonderful pastoral plan contained in Novo Millennium Ineunte. To embark courageously and go in the direction of the deep, that is to say to evangelize in a new age, the episcopal conferences must be seen as vehicles of collegiality. They are not obstacles between primacy and collegiality, but rather contemporary ways that local churches can engage local culture to develop the particular characteristics reflecting the richness of the multiform wisdom of God. The competence and authority of episcopal conferences must be promoted and respected.
The Instrumentum Laboris warns of the forces of globalization and their 'tendency to reduce everything to a common denominator and undervalue differences'. Excessive centralization creates the same danger for the Church.
[00236-02.03] [in196] [Original text: English]
The Synod of Bishops established by Pope Paul VI is meant to give advice to the Pope in the governing of the universal Church. "The stronger the unity of the Bishops with the Pope, the richer will be the communion and mission of the Church, the more effective will be their ministry" (Inst. Laboris, no.9).
How strong is the unity and communion emerging from a Synod as it is now? The episcopal collegiality as defined at the Council can create so much unity and communion between the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops of the world.
Synods are not without producing some fruits. The Bishops give their advice and the Pope decides. He has the right to do so. Sometimes the decisions take a long time to come. In Oceania we are stilI waiting for the Apostolic Exhortation following on our Oceania Synod of 1998.
The Apostles to the Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas, have shown us, in Acts 15, how collegiality works and can produce results in vital matters, like inculturation, for the life of the whole Church.
At the Council it was stated that the same collegiate power (as that of the Council) can be exercised in union with the Pope, under certain conditions, outside the Council. And Canon Law, no. 343, agrees that a deliberative vote could be given at least sometimes at the Synods, but with the Pope ratifying the decisions.
Maybe a revised structure of the Synods of Bishops could be devised, and assist in dealing with many hard questions that come back at every Synod in the GeneraI Assembly or in the circuli minores. This expression of unity and communion could strengthen the good work of the Synods of Bishops.
[00238-02.03] [in198] [Original text: English]
A word of gratitude to the Lord for the immense gift of this synodal encounter. Together with the Holy Father and the bishops of the whole world, religious and laity, we are living, in the Holy Spirit, a precious time of communion which "embodies and reveals the very essence of the mystery of the Church" (NMI 42). I basically refer to three topics:
Firstly, regarding the Instrumentum Laboris in general. The central topic of the Synod, "The Bishop Servant of the Gospel for the Hope of the World", has had considerable echo in our particular Churches. This is shown by the great richness of the material collected in the Document. This implies, however, the facing of at least two challenges: expressing the contents more in relation to the ontological roots of the episcopal ministry; and secondly, attributing greater weight and clarity to the main theme regarding the episcopacy and Christian hope.
The second aspect is focused on the need to highlight the presence of the Mother of Our Lord in the document. Highlighting her place as the model of welcoming, incarnation and service to the Word, and therefore as Mother of Hope.
Thirdly, the delicate exercise of the ministry of the Word by the bishop requires a certain familiarity with the Gospel. Avoiding paralyzing fundamentalist approaches, we should draw nearer to Our Lords style. We need to convey to every environment the experience of the men and women of the rural world, who when listening to the Gospel hear God speak in their own language.
[00239-02.03] [in199] [Original text: Spanish]
I would like to talk about some aspects of our life and of our mission as successors of the apostles, which refer to hope.
1. The first characteristic of the apostles is being called by Jesus to be His disciples. They are distinguished from the other disciples because Jesus had called them to be with him (cf. Mk 3:13) and they dwelt in His love and His truth. The Father bound their lives to the person, wisdom and mission of His Son, arousing in them wonder, conversion and faithfulness to the death.
We, too have been called by the Heavenly Father to live very close to Jesus Christ, to listen with admiration, permanently as His disciples; to serve Him, following the path of the Gospel; making every encounter of our life an encounter with His Son, to contemplate His face and His plans for salvation. For those to whom this realty is evident and those who perceive us as disciples of Jesus, we are signs of hope, since they seek Him, even without knowing it.
2. Even before the encounter with Christ, the apostles lived in hope. Above all, thanks to the prophets, they knew about Gods promises. In the light of this, we understand the brief dialogue with the first two disciples. Jesus built a bridge towards the aspirations with just two words: "Whom do you seek?" After being with Him they proclaimed: "We have found the Messiah" (cf. Jn 1:38 seq.). They had met Jesus Christ, in whom all promises have become an affirmation (cf. 2 Cor 1:20).
The same question must come from our lips: "Whom do you seek?", knowing that the soul of man has been created to seek the happiness of God and take part in it; and that all his noble aspirations find their answer in Christ. It is up to us to announce the promises of God. Without them there is no theological hope, there is no friendship with God, there is no authentically fraternal sharing of earthly goods. On the basis the promises, our relationship with people will make them feel that we believe in their dignity and that we are convinced that these promises will be fulfilled in them, because God is omnipotent and faithful. He is able and willing to invite them to pass from death to life, as well as to collaborate with Him in the edification of His Kingdom of justice, love, peace and holiness.
I therefore propose that we all develop more strongly the pastoral teaching which is coherent with the promises of the New Covenant.
3. Gods promises become living reality by the power of God. Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus told the apostles that he would send upon them what His Father had promised and they would be clothed with the power that is on high (cf. Lk 24:49; Acts 1:4). Already on that day of Pentecost, the fruits of Peters speech revealed the fruitfulness of the descent of the "Spirit of the Promise" (cf. Gal 3:14). This name of the Spirit reveals that He who receives it already possesses in hope, with true joy, the fulfilment of all promises. The apostles experienced its vigorous action as Spirit of communion, holiness and missionary courage and fruitfulness.
With regard to our task as successors of the apostles, any time we say "yes" to the plans God proposes to us, trusting boundlessly, like the Virgin Mary, in the fact that for Him nothing is impossible, we are a sign of hope. And we are so every time we support initiatives of the faithful in which we have seen the breath of the Spirit, but which no longer have any proportion with their human forces, though only with the power of the Spirit of the Promise.
[00240-02.03] [in200] [Original text: Spanish]
I particularly appreciate the witness of hope given to us by the persecuted Churches and those in cultures that make it very difficult to create space for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I would like to highlight some topics already somehow present in the proposal of other synodal fathers:
1) There should be greater collegiality in the Church-communion, with more emphasis on the episcopal conferences, the ecclesiastical provinces and the regional conferences or councils, since the bishop cannot be understood except in collegiality. The mission itself, which is part of the inner essence of the Church, is closely related to collegiality. The College together with Peter, its head, is responsible for evangelizing the world.
2) The unity and multiplicity of forms of the Church requires us to assess the relationship between the bishop and charisms. The importance should be underlined and they should be encouraged. However, charisms should be prevented from arising from parallel pastoral missions. They must, on the other hand, be included in the pastoral plan of the local Church.
3) We should highlight the discipleship of the bishop who offers his own charism to the particular Church, and is enriched in the latter with the help of the priests, the deacons and other faithful. The Bishop is not a person outside of the flock, but one chosen by God to guide the flock and promote unity. Therefore he must allow himself to be taught by the people of God.
4) While in many places the people have a predominate image of the bishop as an influential man with secular power and, at times, his ally, there is a lack of institutional gestures which though small and ordinary, show that the bishop truly desires to closely and carinlgy serve, attentive of all and removed from being the figure of the mere administrator. It would be very useful to renounce honors, titles and dress associated with secular awards preventing them from appearing as "father, brother and friend" (Instrumentum laboris, No. 9).
5) Finally, regarding the affirmation of Vatican Council II, in Gaudium et spes No. 2, for which the "world which the council has in mind is the world of women and men, the entire human family seen in its total environment", the bishop, as servant of the Gospel for the hope of the world, must deal with all these aspects, knowing and interpreting contemporary culture, proposing initiatives which contribute to the dignity of the human being and promoting the influence of the thought and the weight of Christian values.
[00245-02.03] [in201] [Original text: Spanish]
Please correct the second title of H. Em. Card. Edmund Casimir SZOKA: President of the "Governatorato" of the Vatican City State.
Tomorrow morning, Wednesday October 10th 2001 at 9:00, the meetings of the Working Groups will take place to elect the Rapporteurs and to continue the debate on the theme of the X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The Moderators and the Rapporteurs of the Working Groups will meet tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday October 10th 2001 at 16:00.
The Fifteenth General Congregation will take place tomorrow afternoon at 17:00 for the Audition of the Auditors II, the Second Audition for interventions by the Auditors in the Hall on the Synod theme.
The eighth briefing for the Language Groups will take place tomorrow Wednesday October 10th 2001 at 13:10 (in the locations and with the Press Officers indicated in Bulletin no. 2).
We would like to remind the audio-visual operators (cameramen and technicians) to request the access permit (restricted) from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The eighth information pool for the Synod Hall will be formed for the opening prayer of the Sixteenth General Congregation of Thursday morning, October 11th 2001.
The list for registration to the pool is available to the editors at the Information and Accreditation Office of the Holy See Press Office (at the entrance, on the right).
We would like to recall that the audio-visual operators (cameramen and technicians) and photographers are kindly requested to apply to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to participate in the information pool for the Synod Hall.
We would also like to remind the participants in the Information Pool that they are kindly requested to be at the Press Area at 8:30 a.m., outside the entrance of the Paul VI Hall, when they will be called by name to enter the Synod Hall, always accompanied respectively by an officer of the Holy See Press Office and from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The next Bulletin No. 18, with the List of the Rapporteurs of the Working Groups elected in the II Session of the Working Groups and concerning the works of the Fifteenth General Congregation of the X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday October 10th 2001, will be available to the accredited journalists the morning of Thursday October 11th 2001, at the opening of the Holy See Press Office.
- Index Bulletin Synodus Episcoporum - X Ordinary General Assembly - 2001