Prefect of Doctrinal Congregation Backs Better Homilies

Requests That Bible and Catechism Be Taken Into Account

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2005 ( Homilies must have biblical and doctrinal references and aid the faithful to reflect on their lives, says the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Addressing the Synod of Bishops today, Archbishop William Levada said that Sunday Masses are an ideal moment to educate the faithful in the Catholic faith through the homilies.

«In my experience, a homily that seeks to enlighten the faithful about a truth of the faith or morality presupposes much effort and diligence, and preachers find difficulties to prepare their homilies in this way,» he said in his address, delivered in Italian.

«Many have observed, including not a few bishops who are participating in this synod, that present education in the Catholic faith, even among those who practice their faith and attend Sunday Mass, is insufficient to allow them to have enough confidence to update their faith and to practice it in the world of politics, economics, work and education, in extremely secularized surroundings such as ours,» said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s successor as prefect of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation.

«For many good Catholics it is also difficult to transmit the faith to their own children because of this lack of catechesis,» he said.

Archbishop Levada suggested that «perhaps, it is appropriate to consider the celebration of Mass on days of obligation as a privileged means for the formation of the faithful in knowledge of their Catholic faith, in which they are able to appreciate its truth and beauty, thus helping them to find a common language to express their faith in their daily and working life.»

Help for pastors

As a concrete proposal, the archbishop suggested that the synod «request the preparation of a pastoral program that is not imposed, but proposed, to those who preach in Sunday’s Eucharistic celebration.»

«This program might follow the division in three years of the Lectionary, relating the proclamation of the doctrine of the faith with the biblical texts in which such truths are rooted and making reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its recently published Compendium,» he concluded.

Archbishop Levada had already addressed the first session of free interventions to request that the synod reflect on No. 73 of the assembly’s working document in which reference is made to the relationship between the Eucharist, morality and public life.

The synod, which closes Oct. 23, will present a series of proposals to Benedict XVI, who will write a postsynodal apostolic exhortation.

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