Communion, Rather Than Subsidiarity, Is Key Word, Synod Told

First Two Weeks of Addresses Summed Up

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2001 ( Relations between bishops and Rome must be governed more by the notion of “communion” than “subsidiarity,” an official at the Synod of Bishops said.

On Thursday, the assistant general relator of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, summarized the deluge of addresses delivered during the first two weeks of synod. The synod is examining the figure of the bishop of the new millennium.

Addressing the close to 300 participants, including John Paul II, the Argentine cardinal pointed out that communion is the fundamental challenge facing the apostles´ successors. The strength of the Church, he said, is in communion; its weakness, in divisions and clashes.

Communion with God, communion with the universal Church, communion with the local Church, and service of the world were the chapter headings of the cardinal´s summary, which he gave in Latin.

He substituted for Cardinal Edward Egan, general relator of the synod. The latter returned to his Archdiocese of New York for a few days to be with the faithful affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Cardinal Bergoglio´s summary aimed to highlight the issues that the synod participants, divided into linguistic groups, will study in the next few days. Their consequent proposals to the Pope will be the basis of the Holy Father´s postsynodal exhortation.

The summary stressed the need for a bishop to be in “communion with the Lord.” He must be holy, engaged in continuous formation, and witness with the “poverty” of his life to the Kingdom, a witness exacted by today´s world.

The cardinal also mentioned the need for the bishop to be in “communion with the universal Church.”

In this connection, he quoted the Second Vatican Council´s document “Lumen Gentium,” No. 23, which states: “This collegial union is apparent also m the mutual relations of the individual bishops with particular churches and with the universal Church. The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.”

Cardinal Bergoglio noted that some synod bishops mentioned the principle of subsidiarity as the criterion to regulate relations between the Pope, the Roman Curia, the episcopal conferences and the dioceses.

However, quoting the magisterium of recent Popes, the cardinal explained that this sociological principle cannot be univocally applied to the life of the Church. There must be more talk of “communion” than “subsidiarity,” he said.

Another challenge facing a bishop today is the ecumenical question, Cardinal Bergoglio said.

Regarding the Synod of Bishops itself, Cardinal Bergoglio said that the assembly´s participants agreed to its validity as an instrument of episcopal collegiality and communion with the Supreme Pontiff. But he also said that numerous suggestions were made about the need to review the synod´s methodology.

Cardinal Bergoglio also addressed the role of the bishop at the service of communion in his diocese, the particular Church he governs. Above all, the bishop must be a “teacher of the faith,” the cardinal stressed. Because of the grace of holy orders, the bishop can express true judgment on matters of faith and morals.

Moreover, the bishop is called to safeguard and promote the proclamation of the one Gospel, with total and pure fidelity to its apostolic origins. At the same time, he must become a herald of the Good News of Jesus among the poor, to whom he must be a “father” and “brother,” Cardinal Bergoglio added.

The bishop must also give special attention to priests, deacons and immediate collaborators in his ministry, as well as to his seminarians, the cardinal added. A bishop must be equally concerned about vocations to the consecrated and missionary life, he said.

Lastly, the cardinal pointed out that the bishop has the responsibility of seeing to the formation of the laity.

The Argentine cardinal highlighted the service the bishop must give to the world. Specifically, he underlined the importance of pastoral attention to culture, which in today´s society depends to a large extent on the media.

“The world of communications is ambiguous,” Cardinal Bergoglio said. It offers extraordinary possibilities to proclaim the faith and hope that the world so needs, but it is also subject to manipulation, he warned.

Thus the time has come to foster the laity´s “creativity” in their professional work in the media, he said. This challenge also demands the creation of the necessary means to train seminarians, religious, priests and the laity to participate actively in this area, he added.

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