VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address to pilgrims gathered for the noon Angelus today in St. Peter´s Square.
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Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. The 10th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops ended yesterday with a solemn concelebrated Mass in St. Peter´s Basilica. For four weeks, numerous bishops from all over the world met to discuss an essential aspect of the life of the Church: the ministry of the bishop, “Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.”
I participated personally in the synodal meetings, enjoying the atmosphere of communion that characterized them and heard with great interest the ideas proposed. In fact, the ecumenical Vatican Council II had already given much space to the subject of the bishop and his ecclesial service. However, such teaching had to be studied further and adjusted opportunely to the evolution of time and situations.
In this perspective, the synodal assembly, the first of the third millennium, has looked to the future, analyzing the pastoral challenges that the new times pose to the Church. The bishops have confirmed their will to “throw the nets out,” trusting in the word of Christ who said to them, “Duc in altum! — Go into the deep!” (see Luke 5:4-5).
2. It is quite significant that this assembly took place in the month of October, which is the missionary month. Highlighting the pastoral nature of the episcopal service, it did not fail to underscore the principal duty of the bishop to stimulate the missionary spirit and action in the whole ecclesial community, particularly in the laity. In fact, the mission of the Church calls for the active and responsible participation of all, according to the different gifts and states of life.
The abundant harvest in the fields of the world has a growing need of laborers, of missionary vocations. The Lord invites us to ask the Lord of the harvest for the gift with assiduous prayer (see Matthew 9:37-38). The human family urgently needs missionary men and women who, united to God and in solidarity with their brothers, take the Gospel message everywhere, the proclamation of salvation for all men, regardless of language, ethnicity or culture.
3. The month of October is coming to an end, during which our Marian devotion was expressed with particular intensity in the recitation of the holy rosary, to implore the Lord for peace. At this time we especially entrust to the maternal protection of the Virgin Most Holy the peoples of Afghanistan: May innocent lives be spared, and may the international community give timely and effective help to so many refugees, exposed to privations of all kinds as the inclement season approaches.
Neither can we forget all those who continue to suffer violence and death in the Holy Land, particularly in the Holy Places, so dear to the Christian faith. May Mary, Queen of Peace, help all to lay down their arms and finally begin resolutely on the path toward a just and lasting peace.
[Translation by ZENIT]