Synod Senses the World´s Desire for Hope

Most Common Topic During First Week of Assembly

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2001 ( Participants at the Synod of Bishops sense that the world is looking for new reasons for hope, especially after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

This was the most common topic in the more than 100 speeches delivered in the synodal auditorium in the past week. The theme of the four-week synod is “The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.”

Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi of Caceres, Philippines, said the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon meant that “there lay in ruins, not only buildings and innocent lives, but also the hopes and dreams of modern men and women for a peaceful and orderly world.”

“After Sept. 11, 2001, the world faces a threatening future, with its potential for more chaos and insecurity,” the archbishop said. “Political, economic and technological formulas for a better world have reached a dead end, leaving behind a black hole of despair. Once more, the whole of creation groans in travail.”

“Into this landscape of despair,” the archbishop continued, the synod must offer the hope of the salvation of Christ, of which the bishop is a servant.

“Will the world listen and believe that it is so?” Archbishop Legaspi asked. The “world awaits our message, our witness, our evidence that we possess the formula of hope, credibly and authentically.”

Like several other prelates, Archbishop Legaspi believes that a number of sectors of humanity intensely long for this hope, specifically, the poor, the young, and women.

Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince gave voice to the plight of violence-torn Haiti, one of the world´s poorest countries.

In such a situation, Bishop Miot said, we must “choose holiness preach the Gospel of hope in a world of contradiction.”

“We are called to make a special discernment in the context of present social and political life; however, always in intimacy with Christ, who calls us to be his friends,” the bishop added. Thus, the bishop can be a “light on the way,” he said.

Benin Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, spoke on behalf of African peoples, and said that the bishops´ response might entail martyrdom.

Cardinal Gantin added that in Africa today, the death of prominent pastors has become a sign of spiritual rebirth.

He mentioned the killing of Bishop Yves Plumey in Cameroon, Bishop Pierre Claverie and seven Trappist monks in Algeria, and Congolese Archbishops Christophe Munzihirwa and Emmanuel Kataliko. The latter died in Rome a year ago, weakened by the sufferings of persecution and civil war.

Bishop Pierre Morissette of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, said that a bishop must be, above all, a man of faith — he must have “faith in the presence of God in our world” — if he is to be a witness of hope today.

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