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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


21 - 12.10.2001



At 9:00 today, Friday October 12th 2001, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the chant of the Hour of Terce, the Eighteenth General Congregation took place, for the Report after the discussion. The President Delegate on duty was H. Em. Card. Bernard AGRE, Archbishop of Abidjan.

This General Congregation ended at 10:45 and 223 Fathers were present.


During this Eighteenth General Congregation, the Assistant General Relator H. Em. Card. Jorge Mario BERGOGLIO, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires intervened, to read the Report after the discussion in Latin. In the second report, at the end of the general discussion on the Synodal theme in the Hall, the General Relator H. Em. Card. Edward Michael EGAN, Archbishop of New York, with the Assistant General Relator summarized the various interventions given during these days in the General Congregations and offered a few guidelines to facilitate the works of the Working Groups.

The entire text of the Report after the discussion is published below:


With our eyes fixed on Christ

1. Presenting this report after the interventions in the Synod Hall, I would like to thank the Holy Father, who with his presence and his attention gave us the impulse to make our concerns common. Calling us to this Synodal Assembly, he invited us to cross "the threshold of hope" together. By presenting this theme upon which we must reflect, he asked us to turn our eyes to the Gospel of Christ. More so, on Christ-Gospel, where all of God’s promises were definitively realized. Because all the promises were realized in Him, we have been given the gift of future glory, and we have been permitted to be men of hope speaking about hope, together with all the Christians faithful in our Churches. Many times during the Synodal works it has been said that all the Bishops, united to the entire Church, recognize in the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, the principle and visible foundation of unity in the faith and in communion. This Church unity is most certainly a rich source of trust and hope for the future of the mission of Christians in the world, because it is a guarantee of the continuity of the truth of the Gospel and, through this, of the hope of the world. With emotion and gratitude we have recalled in particular, the work of the Pope and the Holy See, who intervening with urgency and efficaciously in many institutional and personal situations gave comfort and hope.

The Report after the discussion in the Synodal process

2. I would also like to thank His Eminence the Secretary General, the Brothers and Sisters of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the experts who have helped us, the Relators and the Special Secretary of the Synod, in gathering all the interventions and summarizing them in this report. The finality of the report is to point out the main topics that should be studied to finally achieve the desired Synodal consensus. For this reason, we have been particularly attentive in gathering the ideas that have emerged and to call the attention on certain themes, which have as the central node the theme of this Synod: "The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World". We are aware that the celebration of the Synod, beyond any other necessary organization, always means a spiritual act of religion and worship.

3. We are also aware that the Synodal process was accompanied by celebration and prayer, which

constituted the spiritual climate of our congregation or "common path" (`Û<@*@H). Finally, we are certain that the Synodal Fathers, despite the brevity and the concision of the Report after the discussion, will discover a reflection of their contribution and their proposals. With the will to harmonize with the hopes and the concerns present in the hearts of all the Bishops who spoke, the Report after the discussion wishes to serve the Synodal dynamics by identifying the convergences to concentrate attention and prayer on these and to offer a more profound reflection in the Working Groups on them.

The Theological Identity of the Bishop

4. "With you, I am Christian and for you, I am Bishop" (1): words by St. Augustine repeated during the General Congregations, which made us realize that the Bishop is a man of the Church, he is part of the Church; the true Sponsa Christi, the "Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans" (2). The Church, the Holy People faithful of God, in its entirety "in credendo falli nequit" (3). This Church, which shows itself to the world in her visible aspects of martyria, leitourgia, diakonia. For this, the Bishop, man of the Church, is called to being man in a sensus ecclesiae.

5. Several times we have heard expressions that are true and living images of the Bishop and his episcopal ministry. The return spontaneously to mind, the expressions of the Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, which in context of an exposition that indicates the Mystery of the Church, states that its nature is defined and recognized by a variety of images, drawn from the Holy Scriptures and by ecclesiastic tradition (4). Therefore we too, with the intention of concentrating our attention on the figure of the Bishop, his mystery and his ministry, wish to repeat and evoke some of these images, which have been recalled in this Synodal Hall. These are images of the shepherd, the fisherman, the attentive guardian, the father, the brother, the friend, the councilor, the servant, the teacher, the strong man, the sacramentum bonitatis, etc. These are all images that show the Bishop as a man of faith and a man of vision, a man of hope and a man of tenacity, a man of humility and a man of communion. Images that point out that to enter the apostolic succession implies entering into the battle (agon) for the Gospel.

The Scheme of the Report after the Discussion

6. In this particular moment of our history - as various brothers in this Synodal Hall continued to state - peace and the unity of human coexistence are threatened. The Bishop, servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the hope of the world, facing this reality, hears the calling to be a man of peace, of reconciliation and of communion. The reasons that justify this perspective can be decreased to essentially two and both can be found in the Instrumentum laboris. Above all, this deals with recognizing that the concept of communion is, recalling the words of the Communionis notio, "in corde autocognitionis Ecclesiae, quatenus ipsa est Mysterium unionis personalis uniuscuiusque hominis cum divina Trinitate et cum ceteris hominibus" (5). Communion is the existence of the Church. This communion may be encountered in the Word of God and in the Sacraments. Especially in Baptism, which is the foundation of communion in the Church, and in the Eucharist, which is the source and the culmination of all Christian life. As stated in the Instrumentum laboris "The episcopal ministry is set in this ecclesiology of communion and mission which gives rise to an activity, a spirituality and a style of life, all of which are determined by communion" (6). At the same time, we must remain in harmony with the theme of this X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which considers the figure of the Bishop within the perspective of service to the Gospel for the hope of the world. Then, as can be read in the Instrumentum laboris, "In our times, unity is a sign of hope concerning peoples and human endeavors towards reconciliation for a better world. Unity is also a sign and credible witness of the authenticity of the Gospel... Such an understanding is a hope-filled sign for a world broken by divisions, opposing forces and conflicts. The Church’s strength is her communion; her weakness is division and internal opposition" (7).

7. This last expression, in particular, did not escape the Synodal Fathers attention, who repeatedly mentioned it in their interventions. Therefore, following this inspiration, the present Report after the discussion, continuing the theme of the Synod and the Instrumentum laboris, will draw the contributions of the richness of the interventions listened to, schematizing the exposition according to the following plan:

  • I - The Bishop in Communion with the Lord

  • II - The Bishop at the Service of Communion in the Universal Church

  • III - The Bishop at the Service of Communion in the Particular Church

  • IV - The Bishop at the Service of Communion in the World

I - The Bishop in Communion with the Lord

A Man of Prayer

8. The Synodal Fathers open-heartedly received the theme of the spiritual life of the Bishop. With this, we received certain expressions which would be worthwhile to direct our attention upon. As was recently mentioned, the strength of the Church is communion, her weakness is division. The Bishop, with this strength, wishes to remain available for God, conscious that he has been called to be a holy and zealous man. Only the Bishop in communion with God can be at the service of hope. Only when he has penetrated the obscure and luminous cloud of the Trinitarian Mystery, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, can the Bishop receive more evidently within himself the signs of his being, in the Church, father, brother and friend. The Bishop is called to enter the mystery to be capable of practicing his ministry and his charism: from this his feeling for martyrdom. The figure of the praying Bishop emerged various times presenting him as a witness of prayer and holiness, witness of salvific time, time of grace. In the celebration of the Eucharist, in prayer, reflection and silence, he worships and intercedes for his people. Feeling himself a sinner, he often turns to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; conscious of the marvels of the Lord in history, he celebrates daily praise in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Called to Holiness

9. As has been said in the many interventions made on this same theme, the holiness of the Bishop is postulated by its own reasons, which go beyond the vocation of holiness in the Church, which all of chapter five dealt with in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium. The clearest and most immediate context, where the theme of the holiness of the Bishop should be included, is offered by the sacramentality of the episcopate. In virtue of this sacramentality, episcopal ordination is not only a mere juridical act, by which he is conferred with a presbytery with vaster jurisdiction, but an act of Christ who, by giving the Spirit of the supreme priesthood, sanctifies the person to be ordained at the moment he receives the sacrament and which, in itself, requires for him all the assistance coming from grace, which he needs for the realization of his mission and his duties. The consequence is that each Bishop sanctifies himself in and with the practice of his ministry.

10. Since, in the triplex munus conferred on the Bishop through sacramental Ordination also included is sanctification, it has also been underlined that his practice cannot be limited to the administration of sacraments, but must also include each action and each attitude of the Bishop, so that through his life he may lead the faithful towards holiness. Each Bishop must be a model of holy life for them and the first teacher and witness of that pedagogy of holiness that John Paul II wrote about in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (8). On the other hand each Bishop, considering not only the entire history of the Church but also that of his own Diocese, finds himself as enveloped by a cloud of witnesses that mark his path. The holy life of the Bishop, in the final analysis, is a witness (martyrion) that, offered to Christ, searches humbly for a mystical identification with the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for the sheep (cf. Jn 15:13) and urges to making his own the words of Jesus: "pro eis ego sanctifico me ipsum" (Jn 17:19). The life of a Bishop in all times and situations, under the gaze of the Lord who embraces the Cross, thus his holiness is expressed in two passions: passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and love for the people in need of salvation. Passions manifested by the goodness and the humility of the Beatitudes. Passions that become rooted in the consciousness of being nothing, of his being sinner who has received the gift of the grace of being elected by the immense goodness of the Father.

Permanent Formation

11. Tightly linked to the theme of holiness and spiritual life of the Bishop and echoed in many interventions by the Synod Fathers is the one on permanent formation. All the members of the Church need this, as was shown in the Apostolic Exhortations Christifideles Laici, Pastores dabo vobis and Vita Consacrata, more reason for the Bishops to need this. Among the reasons indicated there is also the missionary duty of the Bishop, entrusted with building a bridge (pontifex) between the Gospel and the world. Even in the presence of valid experiences already proven in this field with the initiative of organisms of the Holy See (Congregation for Bishops, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples...), we feel the need to better define the meaning of this formation (so that it is not left up to the initiative of each Bishop, but is encouraged by proposals, also institutions, of various types) and its specific objectives, in relationship that is to the episcopal ministry. As a Teacher of the faith, for example, the Bishop needs a permanent formation within dogmatic, moral, pastoral and spiritual theology.

Poor for the Kingdom

12. One of the characteristics most mentioned by the Synodal Fathers in relationship with the holiness of the Bishop is his poverty. Man of poor heart, is the image of the poor Christ, imitating the poor Christ, being poor with a profound vision. His simplicity and austerity of life confer total freedom in God. The Holy Father invited us to examine "our attitude towards earthly goods and about the use of them... to verify to what point in the Church the personal and community conversion has achieved effective evangelical poverty... to be poor at the service of the Gospel" (9). With these last expressions, John Paul II reminds us that this means following the evangelical radicalism for whom blessed is who becomes poor for the Kingdom, following the sequela of Jesus-Poor, to live in communion with brothers according to the model of the apostolic vivendi forma, witnessed in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles (10).

II - The Bishop at the Service of Communion in the Universal Church

Solicitude for the Entire Church

13. Repeatedly the cum Petro et sub Petro vocation of the Bishop has a universal dimension that transcends the limitations of the Particular Church. The openness of his ministry towards the entire Church is required as the primary condition for a member of the Episcopal College. In fact, each Bishop inasmuch as member of the Episcopal College and legitimate successor of the Apostles is obliged "by Christ's institution and command to be solicitous for the whole Church, and this solicitude, though it is not exercised by an act of jurisdiction, contributes greatly to the advantage of the universal Church. And this also is important, that by governing well their own church as a portion of the universal Church, they themselves are effectively contributing to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which is also the body of the churches" (11). In fact, there is a relationship of mutual interiority between the Particular Churches and the Universal Church, as taught by Vatican Council II (12). This unity is rooted not only in the Eucharist but also in the Episcopate because, by the Will of Christ, they are realities essentially bonded to each other. Therefore, the Bishop is at the service of the Universal Church, in truth and charity. Docile to the Holy Spirit who is the unity and the diversity building the Church, the Bishop entrusts himself with this multifaceted harmony: even the Holy Spirit is harmony. From this, the Bishop realizes his vocation to unity, favoring it to any conflict. The awareness of this communion with the Universal Church - as mentioned above - compromises each Bishop in sollicitudo monium Ecclesiarum and raises him to an attitude of solicitude and solidarity with all of them, which began during the first apostolic tradition, as recalled by the collection for the poor of Jerusalem.

Missionary openness of the Bishop

14. The Bishops, as members of the Episcopal College, are consecrated not only to a Diocese, but also for the salvation of all men (13). This doctrine, taught by Vatican Council II, was mentioned to remind that each Bishop must be aware of the missionary nature of his pastoral ministry. All pastoral activity in one’s Diocese is infused by missionary spirit, concerned with inciting, promoting and directing the works of evangelization, in such a way as to encourage and maintain always alive the missionary ardor of the faithful, trusting that this will translate into missionary vocation. It is also important to support missionary activity with economic cooperation. Not less important, however, as has been stated, is encouraging the missionary dimension of the Particular Church, promoting according to the various situations the fundamental values as recognition of others, respect for cultural differences and a healthy interaction between the various cultures. The increasing plurality of cultures of our cities and of our society, on one hand, especially as a consequence of international migrations, establishes new and unseen "missionary situations" and constitutes a particular missionary challenge. Certain questions concerning the relationships between diocesan Bishops and the missionary religious congregations have emerged from the Synodal interventions, requiring a deeper reflection, just like the great contribution that a Particular Church may receive from the same congregations of consecrated life has been recognized, which can ensure maintaining the liveliness of the missionary dimension.

The principle of communion

15. On the same lines as communion with the Universal Church, the Bishop’s need to increase and nurture communion, in the first place, with the Vicar of Christ and with the close collaborators that form the Roman Curia was rightly pointed out. Certain interventions by the Synodal Fathers referred to this. It was pointed out that today the Dicastery Heads of the Curia come from various dioceses spread throughout the world. This reality is, of its kind, an expression of the catholicity of the Church and of ecclesial communion. We would like to take this occasion to also thank the Heads of the Dicasteries and their collaborators who, in the service of the Holy See, work in favor of all the Particular Churches. In the same way, the fraternal dimension of communion is a necessity of the Patriarchal Synods and in a distinct way of the Episcopal Conferences. In this reality, the Affectus collegialis has a concrete application, which is "the heart of collaboration between Bishops on the regional, national and international levels" (14). This calling to fraternal communion between the Bishops transcends mere convenience, since it deals with the sacramental dimension of the episcopal ministry. It has also been suggested that help to the activities of the Episcopal Conferences could come from the renewed practice of the functions of Metropolitans in the area of the respective ecclesiastic provinces.

16. Several times in the Hall, the "principle of subsidiarity" has been voiced. Furthermore, they have asked for greater study, recommended by the Extraordinary Synod of 1985, on the level at which this principle could be applied to the Church (15). The way the question was expressed in this Synod shows the awareness that this is not a question that has been resolved. In effect, Pius XII, Paul VI and lastly John Paul II (16), referring to the singular hierarchical structure of the Church, existing by the Will of Christ, exclude an application of the principle of subsidiarity to the Church, which was univocal with the way this principle is intended and applied in sociology. It is clear that by keeping to the residing Bishop, in his diocese, all the ordinary and immediate power required for the practice of his pastoral office, there must also be an area of autonomous exercise, recognized and protected by the universal legislation (17). On the other hand, the authority of the diocesan Bishop coexists with the supreme authority of the Pope, who is also episcopal, ordinary and immediate over all the churches and over all the shepherds and faithful (18). The relationship between these two powers cannot be resolved automatically by appealing to the principle of subsidiarity, less to the principle of communion, which has been mentioned repeatedly in the Synodal Hall.

17. It was pointed out various times that a concrete way for the Bishop to offer a service in favour of the communion of the universal Church is to take on his vocation as promoter of an ecumenical dialogue. The scandal of division is a negative sign of hope. The ecumenical issue is one of the greatest challenges of the beginning of the new millennium and a central point of the pastoral work of the Bishop. A great deal can be done starting from now, whilst we walk towards the full communion around the table of the Lord. First of all, one should expect ecumenism in daily life; with attitudes of charity, welcome and cooperation; to which one must add the receival of the valid results of the ecumenical dialogue, One must not lose sight of the ecumenical formation not only of the lay faithful and priests but, first and foremost, of our Bishops. Above all we must be united in prayer for unity, like the Apostles together with Mary in order to achieve a new Pentecost. In addition, the internal life of the Catholic Church must be a transparent witness of unity in the different spiritual, liturgical and disciplinary traditions. The Synod Fathers paid special attention to the Eastern Churches, not only in the will to respect the institutions but also and above all in the wish to reach full ecclesial communion. From the interventions of the Synod Fathers of the Eastern Catholic Churches what was strongly stressed is the new but already consistent phenomenon of emigration of their faithful. This emergency bears the need to organize its own pastoral work making it suitable for these faithful in situations of Diaspora.

The Synod of Bishops

18. As regards what refers to the Synod of Bishops, one can say that there is a general consensus on the validity of this institution as an instrument of episcopal collegiality and as expression of communion of Bishops with the Supreme Pontiff. On the other hand, the suggestions of some speakers on the eventual need for a revision of the Synod methodology, need perhaps be tackled elsewhere and with adequate preparation, since it seems that an in-depth discussion on this theme exceeds the specific limits of this Synod. Some interventions proposed holding meetings with the Holy Father and the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences to deal with common pastoral issues. You may recall that already the Extraordinary General Assemblies, envisaged by the Ordo Synodi are specifically a synodal expression of these types of meetings. Therefore, one could reflect on the eventual possibility of convening these assemblies more frequently in the future to deal with well defined themes and to inform the Holy Father about pastoral situations emerging in the world.

III - The Bishop at the service of communion in the Particular Church

Teacher of prayer

19. The Bishop, being part of the People of God, also holds a sacramental presence, in the midst of his People whom he guides with a paternal heart. He is a man who is available to his people, he knows his flock and being close to his people inspires him with understanding and compassion, he prays with his people and like his people, he teaches to pray and guide the prayer of his faithful. In this he presents himself as a true Liturgist taking care of the celebration and being faithful to the rites of the Church, also watching out there are no abuses. In this meaning one underlines the importance of popular piety in which deep humanism and firm Christianity are expressed, and with some deep values: "It manifests a thirst for God which only the simple and the poor can know. It makes people capable of generosity and sacrifice even to the point of heroism, when it is a question of manifesting belief. It involves an acute awareness of profound attributes of God: fatherhood, providence, loving and constant presence. It engenders interior attitudes rarely observed to the same degree elsewhere: patience, the sense of the cross in daily life, detachment, openness to others, devotion (19).

Teacher of faith

20. The paragraphs of the Instrumentum Laboris dedicated to the episcopal ministry at the service of the Gospel (20) have been the ones mostly quoted in the interventions of the Synod Fathers. The rite of the layout of the text of the Gospel, done for all of us during the celebration of the Episcopal Ordination, means both our personal submission to the Gospel as well as a ministry to always be carried out, even usque ad effusionem sanguinis, sub Verbo Dei. It is a matter of being "mild and courageous proclaimers of the Gospel". This same gesture reminds us that we too are entrusted "to God and to the Word of his grace" (Acts 20:32), as we can read in the significant story of the farewell to Miletus by the Apostle St Paul. For this reason every Bishop has the duty to give plenty of room, in his spiritual life, to prayer, meditation and to the lectio divina.

21. The munus docendi of the Bishop has been shown as a priority and as the munus which excels among the main duties of the Bishop (21). He is a public witness of the faith. The Bishop exerts his magisterial role, as it has also been stressed here, within the episcopal body and in hierarchic communion with the Head of the College and with the other members. Even more. The exercise of this munus has been stated according to its multiple and different aspects. The Bishop is he who conserves with love the Word of God and defends it with courage, who proclaims and bears witness to the Word which saves. It has also been stated that the Bishop is the first catechist in his Particular Church and that, consequently, he also has the duty to get valid collaborators, promoting and taking care of the doctrinal formation of his seminarians and priests, of the catechists, as well as of the religious men and women and of the lay faithful. What should not be neglected, as mentioned in the Instrumentum laboris (22), is the task to give theologians "encouragement to theologians and the support which might help them to conduct their work in faithfulness to Divine Tradition and due regard for the necessities of the historical situation". To this is connected the other duty of the Bishop to promote the constitution, to take care of the qualification and also exercise the right and opportune attentiveness over any study, academic and non academic centres existing in the territory of the Diocese, such as the Theological Faculties, the Universities and Catholic schools.

22. It was strongly stressed that the Bishop by the grace of the Sacred order can express an authentic judgement on faith and morals. To repeat here an expression of Vatican Council II, Bishops are "authentic doctors, that is under the authority of Christ, who preach to the people entrusted to them the faith to believe and to be applied in moral life" (23). It is a matter of recognising the consonance of the doctrine with the Baptismal faith, "ut non evacuetur crux Christi" (1 Cor 1:17). This task of vital preaching and of faithful custody of the depositum fidei is rooted, as rightly pointed out, in the sacramental grace which has placed the Bishop in the apostolic succession and given him the hard task of preserving the Church in her note of apostolicity. Therefore, the Bishop has been called to maintain and promote the Traditio, that is communicating the one Gospel and the one faith along the series of generations to the end of time, with integral and pure faithfulness to the apostolic origins, but also with the courage to draw from this Gospel and from this same faith the light and strength to respond to new questions which today emerge in history and which also concern social, economic, political, scientific and technological issues, especially within the field of bioethics.

Lover of the poor

23. His fidelity to the Gospel and his love for the spirit of poverty leads him to a special fondness for the poor who are the central core of the Good News of Jesus; he walks with them. He does not forget that on the day of his episcopal consecration, he was questioned on his intention to take care of the poor. He is learning to see people as Jesus saw them. He is father and brother of the poor in his diocese. His ‘contemplativeness’ and his pastoral charity lead him to discover new faces which today "the widow, the orphan and the stranger" in the Scriptures have taken on in modern life. The Bishop knows that Jesus was God’s compassion for the poor and for this reason enters the life of the poor.

The Bishop and his priests

24. In addition to the themes, what emerges very clearly in the Synod interventions is the privileged attention which the Bishop must have for the priests of his presbyterium and with the deacons, his immediate collaborators as ministerial participants in the priesthood which places him in plenitude. They ask the Bishop for a witness of goodness. He understands them in close dialogue, he animates them and defends them from all trends towards mediocrity. He is father and brother of the priests of his diocese. Priests need tenderness and introduction on the part of the Bishop. The Council of the presbyterium, the deacons and archpriests express this dimension of communion with the whole of their presbyterium.

25. What had also been confirmed was the idea that in the heart of the Bishop there must be a special place for the Seminary which requires his paternal care and his attention for the seminarians. In the life of a Diocese, the Seminary is a precious element to be surrounded by affection, attention and care as well as to be supported above all by prayer. Vocations need silent intercessors with the "Lord of the Masses". Only prayer can make people aware of the serious problem of vocations to the priesthood and only prayer allows the voice of the Lord, who calls, to be heard. Similar concern must be shown for vocations to special consecrated life and to missionary life, as the Pope reminded once again in the Novo Millennio Ineunte (24). (cf. No.46). All this has also been mentioned in the interventions of the Synod Fathers to be achieved in the context of a wide and capillary vocational pastoral activity which involves parishes, education and family centres, promoting in-depth reflection on essential values of life and on life itself as a vocation. Also in this work, the Bishop is the servant of the Gospel for hope, since it is a matter of helping man to discover in his history the good and paternal presence of God, who is the Father in whom one can totally trust.

The Bishop and consecrated persons

26. The post-Synod Exhortation Vita Consecrata marked the importance which consecrated life takes on in the episcopal ministry. Beforehand, the document Mutuae relationes indicated the paths and ways of integration of the consecrated persons in the diocesan ecclesial life. Consecrated life enriches our Particular Churches, showing still more their gifts of sanctity and catholicity. Through many of their works and their presence in the places where institutionally man is taken care of, such as schools and other places of education, hospitals, etc., the consecrated persons show and fulfill the presence of the Church in the world of health, education and integral growth of the person. However, in the synodal debate what was stressed was the need for the care and attention which the Bishop must have for this gift of the Spirit towards the life of the Church, not so much in what it can be meant by apostolic and functional activity, but principally, in the fact of consecration of a baptized person, which embellishes and helps the Church grow. She feels particularly grateful and thankful for the work of consecrated life for its witnessing and work, which is often a burden and hidden.

The Bishop and the lay faithful

27. Awareness that the laity represents most of the faithful people of God, and in them is highlighted the missionary strength of Baptism, means that the Bishop must have an attitude of paternal spirit and nearness, as a true service of the hierarchic Church. The laity expects this help. The lay faithful need to be accompanied and receive help in order not to fall into passivity and be formed according to the potentiality of each one. The lay faithful takes on his or her duty in the apostolate from the sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation, the sacraments which, together with the Eucharist, are the sacraments of Christian Initiation and which especially in the apostolate of the lay faithful stress and develop their missionary dynamism. However, this apostolate must always be practised in communion with the Bishop. One must not lose sight of the importance of the associated lay apostolate. Movements also enrich the Church and need the service of discernment of the charisms, which are of the Bishop. In a special way mention was made in the Hall of the Bishop’s concern for the family, "the domestic church", and for young people, who need certainties which lead them to the heart, witnesses of life and a great deal of goodness.

The Parish

28. A privileged occasion for the Bishop to meet his faithful is the pastoral visit to the parishes. However, the parish today continues being a fundamental nucleus in the daily life of the diocese. For this reason, the nearness of the Bishop and the meeting with the parish priest, with the lay faithful of the different institutions and with all the faithful People of God re-animates and fosters life in the diocese around the figure of the Shepherd. For the Bishop to be able to exercise this role, what was rightly pointed out was the need for his permanence in the diocese.

The diocesan Curia

29. For all his pastoral work, the choice of his closest collaborators and a good organization of his diocesan Curia are of great importance for the Bishop. The diocesan Curia is a service for ecclesial communion and should not be considered as an instrument of merely an administrative nature but fundamentally like a warm expression of pastoral charity, where the Bishop shares his community life with his close collaborators. In addition, what was mentioned was the importance of the Ecclesiastic Tribunals.

Pastoral diocesan plan

30. As expression of diocesan communion, what was also considered important was to have a diocesan pastoral plan which joins prayer and the efforts of the Particular Church around determined aims and objectives. In this way not only are potentialities multiplied but also any parallel or overlapping pastoral work is avoided. One of the main requisites for the Bishop to be able to draw up a pastoral plan is to listen to the possibility of realizing diocesan synods as places where to live an experience of communion.


31. Exercising his service as magister fidei and doctor veritatis, the Bishop also contributes, on his part, towards that inculturation process, referred to in the interventions of the Synod Fathers. The following expression of the Holy Father was repeated: "A faith which does not become culture is a faith which has not been fully received, not fully thought and faithfully lived" (25). We know that this process does not consist simply in an exterior adaptation, but as it was said in the Synod of 1985 and quoted by John Paul II (26), means an intimate transformation of Christianity in the different cultures. In any case, the Bishop will always have to bear well in mind two fundamental principles which guide this inculturation process and which are compatibility with the Gospel and communion with the Universal Church (27).

Pastoral work in culture

32. Inculturation in the Gospel is, on the other hand, linked to pastoral work in culture, which takes into account both modern and post-modern cultures, autochthonous cultures and new cultural movements, in other words everything which forms new and old ‘areopagi’ for evangelization. In fact, it is obvious and this has also been stated in the Hall, that pastoral work in culture is decisive for carrying out that "new evangelization" on which John Paul II insists so much and which appears to be so necessary to sow the seeds of hope which can make civilization of love develop. On the other hand, those many generous and sincere efforts of inculturation of the Gospel, spread by so many missionaries, priests, religious and lay faithful, feel the need for trusting and fraternal direction and accompaniment by the Bishop, the Episcopal Conferences and the Holy See.

The Bishop and the means of social communication

33. Within the proclamation of the Gospel and inculturation, a special role is taken on by the means of social communication, especially in our age which sees huge technological potentiality. As has been stressed, the world of communication is ambivalent. However, we have the possibility of using these instruments to promote the truth of the Gospel and spread those messages of hope and faith, which the world continues to need. What was pointed out was to develop in our Dioceses a pastoral communication plan, encouraging creativity and competence especially of our lay faithful. In fact, it is not enough to guarantee the orthodoxy of a message, but also to be concerned that it is heard and received. This also implies assigning to formation in communication those spaces which are necessary in our seminaries, in our religious houses and in the programmes for permanent formation of priests, of religious and lay faithful. Within the context of a Synod which considers the mission of the Bishop in the perspective of proclaiming the Gospel for hope in the world, it is very important for us not to fail as messengers and communicators.

IV - The Bishop at the service of communion in the world


34. The Church is the "small flock" which continuously goes out in ‘missionarity’; and the Bishop, as a man of the Church, also goes out to proclaim Jesus Christ in the world. He is a "traveller" and expresses himself with gestures which speak. He does not let himself be imprisoned by a Church perhaps paralyzed by its own internal tensions. He embodies the closeness of the Church to man of our time, in the radicalism of the witness of Jesus Christ. Some interventions referred to the prophetic role of the Bishop, to the demanding ‘parresia’. Going out to proclaim Jesus Christ, the Bishop is responsible also for the mission in times of conflict as "pontifex", a bridge which helps towards peace. His prophetic role also proclaims the revelation of Jesus Christ in a time like ours, marked by a crisis of values, where values are missing or where negative values are defended and also within the Church itself, there are processes of self-secularization and ambivalence. With the keenness of a shepherd who goes out to look for his lost flock and what is not of his flock, the Bishop exposes false anthropologies, he rescues values subjected to ideological processes and knows how to distinguish the first truth: that the Word is "come in human nature" (1 Jn 4:2), avoiding that human sufficiency despoils and transforms it in a gnostic or Neoplagian cosmos vision of reality.

The Bishop, worker for justice and peace

35. In this area of missionarity the Synod fathers pointed out the Bishop as a prophet of justice. Nowadays the war of the powerful against the weak has opened a gap between the rich and the poor. The poor are legion. Before an unjust economic system with very strong structural mismatches, the situation of the marginalized is worse. Today there is hunger. The poor, the young and the refugees are victims of this "new civilisation". Women in many parts are not appreciated and are the object of hedonistic civilisation. The Bishop must never tire of preaching the social doctrine which comes from the Gospel and which the Church has made explicit since the times of the First Fathers. Social doctrine, capable of being hope, to join us in divine filiation and makes us fall, since if there is no hope for the poor then also the rich will have no hope.

The Bishop, promoter of dialogue

36. It was noticed on various occasions that also the Bishop helps communion among men with his ministry, by respecting their beliefs, their traditions and approaching, as a means for dialogue confronted or simply opposite positions. In this regard, what stands out is the fundamental role which the Bishop must have in promoting inter-religious dialogue. Some Fathers have mentioned the need for insisting on relations with Islam.

The Bishop, proclaimer of hope

37. The ‘missionarity’ of the Bishop to the world seems to be hope. It was said that the current world is a scenario lacking in hope, since in reality an inherent culture leaves out any authentic hope. The marginalized, disappointed by their leaders, turn to God; they confide in His shepherds, they place hope in the Church. Also here the apostolic spirit of the Bishop appears, a true Liturgist of hope, who receives as much as he hopes; since without hope all pastoral action of the Bishop would be useless. Before the world, the Bishop must proclaim God in Christ, a God with a human face, a "God with us", because the certainty of his faith creates hope in others.


38. "With you, I am Christian and for you, I am Bishop". We would like to end this paper with the same words by Saint Augustine. Let us allow the Fathers reflect on the aforementioned points and many more in order to outline the profile of the image of the Bishop which the Church needs in order to accomplish its mission in this beginning of the Third Millennium: man of God on his journey with his people, man of communion and missionarity, man of hope servant of the Gospel for the hope of the world. We know that the whole world eagerly desires this "hope which will not let us down" (Rm 5:5), for this reason the Bishop can only preach hope which stems from the Cross of Christ: ave crux spes unica.

39. The cross is mystery of life and death. The gift of life came to us from the Cross. The Bishop who proclaims the Gospel as hope for the world is he who proclaims the victory of life over death and in the light of the Risen One repeats the credo vitam aeternam: it is the article which concludes the symbol of faith. Some interventions of the Synod Fathers have asked us to question ourselves on whether, in our preaching, placed as we are in cultural contexts which are full of values of the earth and the present time, we give the right place to the proclamation of the "novissimi" and of eternal life, as a specific object of Christian hope. The Church in which we are placed as Bishops is the pilgrim Church on earth. During our Synod Assembly, we are speaking about our ministry in this stage of the history of salvation, questioning ourselves on how to be credible and valid ministers of the Gospel for hope in the world. When, at the end of the Synod works, we will be back home in our Particular Churches, we will celebrate with the whole Church the merits and glory of All the Saints. In this Assembly, the Holy Mother of God, "quoadusque advenerit dies Domini, tamquam signum certae spei et solatii peregrinanti Populo Dei praelucet" (28). Mary is the highest witness of Christian hope, She is the mater spei. Under Her maternal protection, we ask Her to teach us to walk along this journey of hope for the service; this journey which opens us to the joy of the proclamation, the meeting with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Questions for the Working Groups

After the discussion with the interventions in the Hall, certain questions might be useful for the dialogue in the Working Groups.

1. In the light of the many rich interventions in the Hall, where much was said about the ministry of the Bishop as teacher of faith and doctor of truth, we ask the Working Groups to reflect deeply on the aspects and the points of the doctrine of the faith upon which, today, the Bishop must insist on practicing his ministry in the Particular Church.

2. Since the Bishop must be the teacher of spiritual life for all the members of his diocese, we ask what initiatives could be made for the achievement of his task. As a fundamental condition for this ministry, we must underline that the Bishop leads his flock through his example. We ask for specific guidelines for the Bishop to live in holiness. Therefore, to examine the relationship between ministry and sanctification of the Bishop. Further explanation of the roots of the spirituality of the Bishop in the sacramental grace of the episcopate must be given.

3. Bearing in mind the interventions in the Hall and the doctrine of Vatican Council II in chapter III of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium and the Decrees Christus Dominus and Presbyterorum Ordinis, we must describe how the Bishop must act in his relationship with his priests and with his church. Attention should be taken on the absolute priority of this relationship of the Bishop with his generous and needed collaborators. The practical consequences of the Bishop’s availability and accessibility. Possible initiatives to reinforce the ties of communion between the Bishop and the priests.

4. How can the Bishop promote a pastoral vocational ministry by starting off presenting life itself as a vocation? How can this pastoral ministry concretely achieve the specific vocation to the priesthood? The relationship between the Bishop and his future priests and seminarians, preparing for the priesthood, should be described. Some ideas on the formation of seminarians, especially the part pertaining personally to the Bishop.

5. Apart from the juridical relationship of hierarchical communion, how can the affective collegiality be encouraged, and more so, the bond of communion between Bishops inasmuch as successors of the Apostles and the Successor of Peter? What initiatives can be taken to reinforce these ties of charity, so that this communion may be manifested better to all, believers and non-believers, throughout the world?

6. Can reunions of Bishops of the same ecclesiastic province, if held more frequently, be a means for a better and more concrete realization of the collegiality pertaining to evangelization, and to resolve the pastoral problems of the faithful who live in a more definite and homogeneous territory?

7. How can the Bishop encourage everyone with respect to the life in the parish as a central location, opportune for the faithful to refer to in their apostolic and spiritual activities, as individuals or associated?

8. How can the Diocesan Curia organize itself to be an expression of pastoral charity of the Bishop himself and be a faithful instrument to govern the diocese and a place of participation and co-responsibility in the sphere of sanctification and the apostolate? The importance of the administration and the Tribunals within the Curia must also be taken into consideration.

9. What concrete choices should be made for the Bishop, before his Particular Church and within it, to witness authentic poverty? How may he realize the authentic image of a poor Bishop free of any ties for the Kingdom? A difficulty which must be overcome for this finality and which impede the practice of the evangelical Beatitude of poverty. How may he be the defender of the widow, of the orphan and of the foreigner in today’s meaning of these terms?

10. On inculturation in concrete, at this time when the sociological conditions of our cities change so rapidly and radically, we must pay more attention to cities with a plurality of religions, ethnic groups and cultures, and to the pastoral consequences of this reality for the Bishop of the Third Millennium. Specific evolution, always referring to this reality, in cities with immense growth (megalopolis).


(1) Sermo 340,1.

(2) ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, 1.

(3) ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 12.

(4) Cf. ibid., 6.

(5) CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Communionis notio (28.05.1992), 3: AAS 85 (1993), 839.

(6) Instrumentum laboris, 64.

(7) Instrumentum laboris, 63.

(8) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (06.01.2000), 31.

(9) JOHN PAUL II, Homily for the opening Mass of the X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (September 30th 2001), 3-4.

(10) Acts 4:32: "The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common".

(11) ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL II, Apostolic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 23.

(12) Cf. Idem; JOHN PAUL II, Speech to the Roman Curia, 20.12.1990, no. 9: AAS 83 (1991), 745-747.

(13) Cf. ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL II, Decree on the missionary activity of the Church, Ad gentes, 38.

(14) SYNODUS EPISCOPORUM (1985), Final Report Ecclesia sub Verbo Dei, II, C, 4.

(15) Ibid. II, C, 8, c.

(16) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Speech to the Roman Curia (June 28th 1986): AAS (1987), 198.

(17) Cf. ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL II. Christus Dominus, 8; CIC c. 381; CCEO c. 178.

(18) Cf. ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL I, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor aeternus, 3: DS 3060 and 3064.

(19) PAUL Vl, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 48.

(20) Cf. Instrumentum laboris, 100-110.

(21) Cf. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL VATICAN II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 25.

(22) Instrumentum laboris, 106.

(23) ECUMENICAL COUNCIL VATICAN II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 25.

(24) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic letter, Novo millennio ineunte (06.01.2000), 46.

(25) JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Pontifical Council for Culture, 20 May 1982.

(26) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Redemptoris Missio (07.12.1990) 52: AAS 83 (1991).

(27) Cf. Ibid., 54.

(28) ECUMENICAL COUNCIL VATICAN II, Lumen gentium, 68.

[00306-02.04] [nnnnn] [Original text: Latin]



At the end of the Eighteenth General Congregation of this morning, the Third Session of the Working Groups began for the continuation of the discussion on the Synod theme. The works by the Working Groups will continue this afternoon, as well as tomorrow Saturday October 13th 2001 and Monday October 15th 2001. The Reports by the Working Groups will be presented in the Hall on Tuesday, October 16th 2001, during the Nineteenth and Twentieth General Congregations.

It is the task of the Rapporteur of the Working Groups to summarize the opinions expressed concerning a certain topic for each session or a conclusion of the discussion, indicating the points of agreement and disagreement; to prepare a report at the end of the Working Group’s discussion, to be subjected to the approval of the members; to present the report in the General Congregation; to prepare the summary of the report for the Bulletin Synodus Episcoporum, published in 6 linguistic versions by the Holy See Press Office. Furthermore, he must prepare the drafts of the propositions and collaborate in the composition of the Integrated List of Propositions; to prepare the individual and the collective amendments, at the end of the discussion, to be subjected to the members of the Working Group for their approval; to collaborate with the General Relator in studying the collective amendments and in the preparation of the Final List of Propositions.


The Second Press Conference on the works of the X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, after the Report after the discussion, will take place today, Friday October 12th 2001 at 12:45, in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office.

The following will intervene:

  • H. Em. Card. Jorge Mario BERGOGLIO, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Deputy General Relator

  • H. Em. Card. Bernard AGRÉ, Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), President Delegate
  • H. Em. Card. Ivan DIAS, Archbishop of Bombay (India), President Delegate
  • H.E. Most Rev. John Patrick FOLEY, Titular Archbishop of Neapolis in Proconsulari, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, President of the Commission for Information
  • H.E. Most Rev. Telesphore Placidus TOPPO, Archbishop of Ranchi (India), Vice President of the Commission for Information


The tenth briefing for the Language Groups will take place Tuesday afternoon October 16th 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 tenth information pool for the Synod Hall will be formed for the opening prayer of the Nineteenth General Congregation of Tuesday morning, October 16th 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.


In the next Bulletin No. 22 for today, we will publish the Message by the Ecumenical Patriarch to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity of September 30th 2001, read by the Fraternal Delegate for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, H. Em. Ambrosius, Metropolitan of Oulu, Orthodox Church of Finland during the Sixteenth General Congregation of Thursday morning, October 11th 2001.

In this Bulletin No. 22, we will also publish the summaries of the interventions by two Synodal Fathers who could not intervene during the Seventeenth General Congregation of Thursday afternoon, October 11th 2001, for the lack of time.

Bulletin No. 23 on the works of the Nineteenth General Congregation of the X Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of Tuesday October 16th 2001 will be available for the accredited journalists at the end of the works of this Congregation.


  • Friday, October 12th 2001: 9 - 16
    Press Conference
  • Saturday, October 13th 2001: 9 - 14
  • Sunday, October 14th 2001: 11 - 13
  • Monday, October 15th 2001: 9 - 15
  • Tuesday, October 16th [Vatican Holiday]: 9 - 16
  • Wednesday, October 17th 2001: 9 - 16
    Briefings with the Synod Fathers
  • Thursday, October 18th 2001: 9 - 15
  • Friday, October 19th 2001: 9 - 15
  • Saturday, October 20th 2001: 9 - 14

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