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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


22 - 12.10.2001




Below, we publish the Message by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople His Beatitude Bartholomew I to the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity H. Em. Cardinal Walter Kasper dated September 30th 2001, read by the Fraternal Delegate for the Patriarchal Delegate, H. Excellency Ambrosius, Metropolitan of Oulu, Orthodox Church of Finland during the Sixteenth General Congregation, Thursday morning October 11th 2001:

His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Beloved Brother in Jesus Christ, God's grace and peace be with you.

With great joy and gratitude we welcomed your invitation, in accordance with the wish of His Holiness the Pope of Rome, John Paul II, to send a fraternal delegate to actively participate in the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, that will be held in Rome from September 30th to October 27th on the theme "The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World".

We wish to inform you that we designated as the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate the Bishop of Reghion, his Excellency Emmanuel for the first days of the Synod, and for the following days, the Metropolitan of Oulu, his Excellency Ambrosius, who will directly transmit to the General Secretary of the Synod, His Eminence Cardinal Jan P. Schotte, and to all the Synod Fathers our most cordial greetings and our fraternal love.

At the same time we wish to express our satisfaction for the theme chosen for this Synod. This topic makes the Bishops aware of their main duty, that is the service to the Word, as the Apostle Peter said when he proposed the appointment of seven deacons (Acts 6,2) and the Apostle Paul repeated to Titus, when he wrote that the Bishop must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, "so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it" (Tit 1,9).

Above all these duties what comes most into prominence is the words of our Lord Jesus Christ himself "Go into the world and proclaim the good news" (Mk 16,15) and "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, … and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Mt 28, 19-20). The search for the true content of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always real and necessary and teaching should be consistent with "sound doctrine", because every person is in danger of subjective judgement that may lead to error, that is, to substitute what the Lord commands with the application of doctrines made by men and women.

For the sure knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the best way is the personal relationship with him, that comes from love towards him and is completed by the observance of his commandments. All this should be accompanied by complete trust in God, who allowed Jesus Christ to come and dwell in our hearts. When this happens "Christ lives in us" and we think as Christ does and we teach what is true, and live rightly, by serving the Gospel, that is the only hope of humankind.

I cordially wish all the Synod Fathers to have our Lord Jesus Christ living in their hearts, so that each one of you may serve the Gospel, hope of the world, as Christ wishes.

September 30th, 2001

His Eminence, Beloved Brother in Christ


Archbishop of Costantinople

[00307-02.01] [nnnnn] [Original text: Greek]

[Unofficial translation by the Pontificial Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity]



At the beginning of the Eighteenth General Congregation on Friday October 12th 2001, the following Synodal Fathers, who could not speak due to the lack of time during the Seventeenth General Congregation on Thursday afternoon October 11th 2001, intervened:

The summary of the interventions is published below:

H.E. Most Rev. Marcelo Arturo GONZÁLEZ AMADOR, Bishop of Santa Clara (Cuba)

I come from a small Church, which has had to keep its gaze on the One who died, on the suffering and resurrected Christ, to encounter in Him the reason for its existence, the indispensable strength in the midst of trials and the patience necessary for living in hope, interpreting each instant of its history as a time of grace, the hour of God.

My reflection is based on No. 9 of the Instrumentum Laboris: the new face of the Bishop. All this leads me to think of five aspects. 1. We are men of God and men want us to be like God: Saints. They seek us to encounter in us that which they cannot encounter in others, God; they want us to speak about God, with our experience, and want us to speak to God about them. 2. They want to see us totally free, without dependence or limitations, without submission or affiliation to any power, to anyone; without conditioning and manipulation of any type. In other words, they want us totally distant from political and economic power, fully available to Christ, the only source of salvation. 3. The faithful want us to be men capable of illuminating thought and uniting will, in other words to create an environment of consensus. 4. Daily life leads us to have relationships with all men. These people expect from us sensitivity to all human misery and the courage to defend human rights, by legitimate means and without wrong intentions, without hoping for a reward in exchange or to be protagonists. 5. The Church and first of all we Pastors are called to take concrete steps, to make definite gestures of support and accompaniment for everyone, but in particular to the people who live in borderline and difficult situations.

Finally, I would like to express to the Holy Father the gratitude of the Cuban Church for his person and his constant daily commitment. Thank you for those five days in the month of January 1998 when he walked on the land of Cuba as "Message of truth and hope". I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to thank all the sister Churches for the support which they have offered to the Church that lives in Cuba.

[00300-02.04] [in230] [Original text: Spanish]

H.E. Most Rev. Paulin POMODIMO, Bishop of Bossangoa, President of the Episcopal Conference (Central African Republic)

The particular Church of the Central African Republic is situated and evolves in a poor country facing many problems: AIDS, the lack of respect for human rights, economic poverty, illiteracy, a high mortality rate, tribalism, unpaid wages and frequent strikes.

My address regards three main points inspired by the Instrumentum laboris.

The first point concerns the title of this document, which speaks of the bishop as Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World. With regard to our situation, the first mission of the bishop is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. This means taking into account the concrete situation of persons and proclaiming to them that God loves them.

The second point comes from No. 141 of the Instrumentum laboris which speaks about the bishop as Father and Defender of the poor.

The most vulnerable people of society must perceive the effectiveness of the Good News. Our Episcopal Conference has therefore identified two priorities: health and education. This action enables us to call out Christian hope and proclaim the Paschal victory over evil.

Solidary with the poor, the little ones, we must shout out our indignation before political, commercial and pharmaceutical misdeeds. We join our voice with that of the NGOs which ask for fair access to pharmaceuticals.

The third point refers to No. 142 of the Instrumentum laboris.

With regard to the rights of the children, which are completely ignored here, we provide formation and information. Our Catholic radio stations support this initiative.

The Gospel is a force that leaves no room to chance. God wants us standing up and free from any constraints.

The misery that strangles the African people today requires us to rediscover the subversive and transforming dimension of the Gospel.

The African culture can be summarized in an unflagging search for life. The life, to which we aspire with every fibre of our being, is offered to us abundantly by Christ. Therefore, let us be guardians of life.

[00298-02.03] [in231] [Original text: French]


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