Synod Interventions of 10th General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2008 ( Here are summaries of the interventions given Saturday morning at the 10th general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is underway in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”

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— H.E. Most. Rev. Joseph VÕ ĐÚC MINH, Bishop Coadjutor of Nha Trang (VIETNAM)

The Church of Christ in Vietnam, after receiving the Gospel in 1533 and especially after the nomination of the first bishops in 1659, has led a life full of crosses. Through the high and low points of its history, like the Jews at the time of their exile, the Vietnamese Catholics understood that only the Word of God remains and never deceives. This Word, which fills prayers, the Way of the Cross and the Angelus, the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary to be meditated on, the hymns, the chanting of Biblical themes, the catechism lessons, popular worship, para-liturgies, the evenings of prayer in lectio divina, etc., has become a source of comfort and strength that gives a sense of security to all the members of the People of God, and at the same time, the focal point that helps them to discover their future.

The Word of God helps discover the true figure of Jesus Christ, who incarnates the saving love of God, through the mystery of the Cross. Because of the painful experience lived by the Church of Christ in Vietnam, the Mystery of the Cross has become not only close to daily life, but also an essential element that reunites the people of God. Inheriting the millenary culture of the “cult of ancestors”, which expresses the filial piety of our people, the Christians, in celebrating the anniversary of the death of a family member, is inspired by the Last Supper, the Passion, the Death and the Resurrection of Our Lord, whose example always touches upon the Vietnamese soul. The stories about the trials experienced by the Patriarchs and prophets, in particular “saint” Job in the Old Testament, and by the Holy Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the apostles of the New Testament continue to support the faith of the Catholics.

[Original text: French]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Stanislav ZVOLENSKÝ, Archbishop of Bratislava (SLOVAKIA)

In its history we meet many men and women who have read Sacred Scripture in a way that led them to a complete reorientation of their lives, a change in their way of thinking and acting, or at least to a new reason to give to their position of faith. The history of the Church is continually characterized by a return to the existential radicalism of Scripture. The sanctity of many Christians is a consequence of the sincere and often radical response to the call of the Word of God.

Verifying how we read the Writing of the Saints can lead us to the discovery of ways to read sacred Scripture which even though they aren’t all new have been a bit neglected.

For example, what might be useful for us is the Franciscan reading of the Bible that we will undoubtedly find surprising if we look at it from the point of view of the modern scientific criteria of interpretation and from the point of view of the faith that this reading has brought. One of the characteristic signs of this reading was the sine glossa principle. This involved welcoming the Word of God as it is written in Sacred Scripture, without any academic commentary. According to St Francis, Divine Truth is not made the object, in the words and phrases of the Bible, it is not always available to provide an answer to all problems. It can only be discovered in the whole and personal context, it does not focus on textual material but on the actions of God. The exegesis of St Francis leads to the recognition of the sacramental character of the Word of God.

The above points represent only an illustration of how the saints can provide us with hermeneutic perspectives for a reading of Scripture that leads to a radicalism of faith. Therefore, as we can find a certain hermeneutic principle from St Francis, it is useful and perhaps necessary to find one in the lives of the other saints as well, with whose riches the Church abounds.

[Original text: Italian]

— H. Em. Card. Daniel N. DI NARDO, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

The Eternal Word emptied himself for our salvation. In an analogous way the Holy Spirit has also given and “humbled” himself in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. With great courtesy he has adapted the divine “language” with thought towards our human nature (Dei Verbum, 9 and 11). The record of even small, seemingly trivial events in Sacred Scripture, are•taken up into the very economy of our salvation and deification.

I speak in behalf of Catholics who live in the famous Bible Belt of the Southern United States. It is a genuine location, but it is also a frame of mind, diffused through many places in the world. There are surely issues and problems with this mind set, but it has kept alive a Biblical imagination and vocabulary and a sense of divine agency in the world that is important for us In the Instrumentum Laboris, #18 a-g and 22 c-d, the Word of God is spoken about in a deeply rich christological way. The pneumatology however is more discrete. Catholics in the Bible Belt need a pneumatology that can help them in reading Scripture.

I would recommend the publication of a Compendium, similar to other such documents, that would be directed to the faithful. It would be a clear and direct guide that would highlight the rich and useful methods of the Church for reading and sharing the Sacred Scriptures. Such a Compendium would be an immeasurable help for personal bible reading, for Bible Study groups etc. Totally ecclesial and Catholic, it would also be of great help in ecumenical bible studies in which many of our people are enrolled. It would help retrieve a vivid and excellent sense of the Catholic understanding of the Holy Spirit’ s inspiration in the Sacred Scriptures.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Ramón Alfredo DUS, Bishop of Reconquista (ARGENTINA)

In No. 17 of the Instrumentum Laboris a situation was mentioned that “urgently requires a formation centred on a reading of the Old Testament with Christ in mind, which acknowledges the bond between the two testaments and the permanent value of the Old Testament”. As concerns this point, the DV 16 asserts that the Old Testament “sheds light on it and explains it”, which should be remembered. If this is so, the reading and interpretation of the Old Testament cannot be given up, in principle or in practice, in the understanding of the New Testament.

A text by Saint Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses, IV, 33,13) emphasized the unity of the salvific work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit from the beginning of time, and brought to recognize that such a divine action is carried out in the Old Testament for the Patriarchs, prophets and for all the people of God, in favor of all humanity. The salvation that the Trinitarian God realizes in each moment of history participates, on an ontological level, to all His salvifical work, thus it is always complete. The assertion of a “complete salvation” in the Old Testament can overshadow the essential character of the New Testament. But Saint Irenaeus himself responds to this difficulty: “What does the Lord add with His coming? He adds something completely new: He presents Himself! (Adversus Haereses, IV, 34,1; cf. Instrumentum Laboris 11).

The salvation that ties us to Christ, seen and understood since the Old Testament, reveals a Trinitarian structure of the relationship between the Old and the New Testament. Such a relationship, before its occurrence from the viewpoint of a temporal scheme, falls more suitably into the categories of participation and analogy. This presentation can overcome the weaknesses derived from the scheme promise-fulfilment and from a purported uselessness of the Old Testament.

Jesus and His community – His Church – is the historical key that makes th
e fulness of salvation of the Old Testament perfectly comprehensible; for this reason greater knowledge of it is fundamental for every disciple’s life and for the mission of a priest of Christ’s Church.

[Original text: Spanish]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Enrique DÍAZ DÍAZ, Titular Bishop of Izirzada, Auxiliary Bishop of San Cristóbal de Las Casas (MEXICO)

“Faithfulness to the Word of God exists when the first form of charity is realized in a respect for the rights of the human person and in defence of the oppressed and those who suffer” (IL 39). The indigenous of our communities in Latin America are among those who suffer. At Aparecida, the bishops took on a serious commitment: “Our pastoral service to the indigenous communities requires that we proclaim Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Kingdom of God, denouncing situations of sin, structures of death, internal and external violence and injustice, to promote intercultural dialogue… Jesus Christ is the fullness of Revelation for all peoples” (95).

In many places, the relationship between the Word and autochthonous cultures has begun. In a certain way, the Bible is very close to their concepts and cosmogonies for the common rural culture. Creation, the concept of God, the meaning of Redemption and the Cross, life in a community, offer many possibilities for encounter. However, these are different cultures, a path just started and that needs to be trod with care, to not condemn what we do not understand, to clarify and give worth to the Revealed Word, to avoid destroying cultures and truly incarnate the Gospel in our people.

On the part of Catholics, little has been done to translate the Bible in the indigenous languages and there has been little understanding of their culture and their concepts. Until the Revealed Word becomes “living word, written in their cultures and in their lives”, it will be very difficult for it to reach and penetrate the heart and be incarnated in these peoples. As Church, we must proclaim this incultured “good news”, that their hearts may bloom and keep it standing, with dignity and to offer their evangelizing word to us (IL 40 and 46).

[Original text: Spanish]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Basil Myron SCHOTT, O.F.M., Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh of Byzantines, President of the Council of the Ruthene Church (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

In the East, the scriptures are found in the preaching of the Fathers of the Church, Tradition and Liturgical Services. The Incarnate Word remains present in the Church in two ways: the biblical word and in the Eucharist, effected in the life of the Church by the Holy Spirit.

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Scripture is not seen as primarily a written norm, but rather a consecration

of the History of Salvation under the species of the human word. The content and unity of Scripture does not refer to the books of the Scriptures themselves but to the reality to which these books give testimony and witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Theotokos remains the prime mode l of receiving the Word and this is exemplified in the Akatist Hymn to the Mother of God.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Anthony Sablan APURON, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Agaña, President of the Episcopal Conference (GUAM)

Good homilies that speak to the experience of man today can move people to conversion. But in addition to giving good homilies what is needed today are good witnesses to the life of the Word of God that is lived as well.

In my experience with the Neo-Catechumenal Way, as I am sure it is done with the other ecc1esial realities through the Lectio Divina or the Seven Steps to Gospel Sharing, or faith sharing groups, there is the daily opportunity to “Scrutinize” the Word of God, reflecting on the passages of Sacred Scripture, especially the Liturgical Readings for Mass, in order to see how the Word of God touches you in your life as lived today. Would that every bishop and priest and religious and lay person do this!

lf the Word of God is to be alive in our lives and in our mission as a Church we must as bishops and priests, leaders and professed religious and dedicated lay people set the example for others and put ourselves at the service of the Word of God daily, not just say it, but show it, and, not consider ourselves above the ordinary people because we have been educated or ordained and/ or professed. If we, as a total Church, are to be credible witnesses of Christ to the world today, the world, especially the poor and the marginalized, must see ourselves as humble servants, as gentle listeners and as generous leaders as the Jesus of Nazareth whom we claim to be his fol1owers and disciples and apostles.

I pray that this Synod will help all of us realize the importance the Word of God must have in our lives not just as a Sacred text but as truly the final Word ofGod’s love for humanity enfleshed in his Son Jesus Christ. And may Mary the Mother of our Lord and our Mother show us by the example of her life how to make known to others that we first live the Word of God and challenge others to come and do the same, in the name of Christ.

[Original text: English]

— H. Em. Card. Miloslav VLK, Archbishop of Prague (CZECH REPUBLIC)

I do not wish to repeat what has already been said many times, not even to develop the theology of the Word. I would like to recount, as confirmation, some experiences with the Word of God, which occurred during the era of Communism.

The Communist Party was very jealous of youth. Any organization of believers was forbidden. Therefore, they met illegally in refuges, in the mountains, in the woods. It was very difficult to find a priest among them who could guide them and celebrate Mass. They kept in their hands the Bible and Dei Verbum, on these occasions. Every day they began with the reading of and meditation on the Word and they strove to live it together throughout the day. Once, they read these words: ” Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). After a certain period of intense living of this Word they realized that the Holy Spirit present in their hearts had become the force that gave birth to communion between them. They discovered that the power of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, the love of God, lived reciprocally between them, brought the presence of the Risen into their midst, fulfilling the Word of Jesus: “For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them” (Mt 18:20).

Once, one of them brought a friend without explaining what the group was about. In the evening when they talked about the day which had passed, this boy asked for an explanation, by saying: there is something special between you. What is it …

Another time this group had gone to Communist East Germany, where the Church was freer. They invited other boys that were not used to living by the sacraments. There too, the Word of God was a living experience. After a few days of living in this profound communion, the non-practicing youth, at the moment of Eucharistic communion, felt excluded from the community. They asked if they could confess. They then stated publically that the communion, the unity of the group was so strong that it was difficult being “excommunicated” at the sacred moment of Eucharistic communion.

Communion born of the Word of God has a great force of attraction. Some years later, several of them found their vocation for the priesthood and consecrated life.

Great joy arose among them, a gift of the Holy Spirit, and hope even in desperate situations, despite the Communism surrounding them. Yes, it is true: the Church is born of and lives by the Word of God… Precisely during the era of Communism, many experienced this….

[Original text: Italian]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Georg MÜLLER, SS.CC., Bishop Prelate of Trondheim (NORWAY)

In a Church of extreme diaspora in the midst of Christians of other Churches and ecclesial communities, the Synod underlines the importance of Scripture and of the Word of God. Biblical collaboration is an ample forum for ecumenism. Collaborating with the national Biblical societies, for many years now we have been using an edition of the Bible that was not produced by us alone.

At the same time, this communion is understood and seen in a different way. This has an important effect on understanding Christian doctrine and its application in life. In an evermore secularized world, the Church must find new enlivening spaces for the Word of God and to emphasize positive experiences with it.

The Catholic Church in Scandinavia is a real minority. Often in our countries, the faithful find it difficult to reach ecclesial communities because of the great distances from churches, scattered towns, the circumstances of immigration and the lack of understanding by the Church connected to this, the different linguistic and cultural differences. This situation of diaspora is at the center of our reflections, when in the past we compared ourselves to the great Churches in Europe, We are a minority in a secular society. But if we look at ourselves, we don’t call ourselves the Church of the Diaspora, since we are used to being few.

Dedicating ourselves once again to the Word of God and Holy Scripture unveils new possibilities to be experimented starting from faith for the believers in the small communities, and thereby reinforcing faith. The small number invites us to look at the reality of leaven (cf. Mt 13:33)( and rediscover, from this perspective, on the missionary spirit. The leaven acts until everything has been fermented.

The Scandinavian Church contributes, living the Word today, “To make the Church the home and the school of communion” (Novo Millennio Ineunte 43).

[Original text: German]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Kidane YEBIO, Bishop of Keren (ERITREA)

As it is known that, the Church form the very beginning considers the OT as part and parcel of the one Christian Bible and an integral part of Revelation. And hence, the Bible is singularly united to the Word of God. The Bible itself attests to the intentional identification of the Word of God with Scripture. The Word of God as it is illustrated in the letter to Hebrews 4:12-13; is a living, effective reality, it is eternal (Is 40:8). All powerful (Wis 18:15) a creative force (cfr. Gen 1:3ff) and originator of History. This Word is, the Word of God who is Jesus Christ, God and Man. The Son is the Eternal Word, ever present in God, because He himself is God (cfr. Jh I:1).

Knowledge of the OT as the Word of God, seem to be the real challenge of our times, in terms of its relationship to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Despite the many Bible translations in differe
nt languages, the free or charged distribution of Bibles, still the OT is the least read part of the Bible and the least understood in our Catholic world. The reading milieu is different in different circumstances:

– At individual level: many are reluctant to take up passages from the OT which appear incomprehensible, leading to their being arbitrarily selected or never read at all

– At Community or Parish level: In some Churches, in the liturgical practices, there is no provision for OT readings, and hence, there is no chance to hear of this Part of Word of God even in homilies.

Therefore, such a situation, urgently requires the following:

– Prepare the clergy, the religious and the Catechists, to know better the Bible in its totality.

– Translate the Bible into local languages, and encourage the faithful to read the Bible individually, in family and in a community

– Develop a formation centered on a reading of the OT with Christ in mind, which acknowledges the bond between the two testaments and the permanent value of the OT (DV nn.15-16).

– Introduce OT readings in the liturgical practices, and the homilies should include OT references in the light of the NT, which always proclaims the Sacred Text of the OT as essential for understanding the NT, as witnessed by Jesus himself in the episode of Emmaus, in which the Master “beginning with Moses and all the Scriptures the things concerning himself’ Lk 24:27.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. George Cosmas Zumaire LUNGU, Bishop of Chipata, President of the Episcopal Conference (ZAMBIA)

No one can deny the fact that there is an intimate bond between the proclaimed word and the Sacraments in the life and mission of the Church. This is attested by Scripture, the word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:14), Church Fathers, the Second Vatican Council and subsequent Councils until today. Yet in some parts of the world especially Africa, the reality is that most of our communities go without the celebration of the Eucharist for weeks, months and some even for years unless Christians are willing to travel long distances to attend Mass. In this context, what about the old, the less able, the children, those who have to look after their fields protecting their crop away from the villages? How are they going to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist? This being the situation, it is imperative that the Church finds a way of celebrating the word that will make transformation of life and like St. Paul bring about total conversion that will necessarily lead into one being at the service of one’s neighbor in true love and humility . In the same context, let the year of St. Paul bring about missionary . consciousness that will motivate us into generous sharing of human and material resources in favor of spreading the Word of God. Dioceses should not feel that they are too poor to give or too rich to receive. Now is the time for the Synod Fathers to hear the cry of the poor and do something concrete about it.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Bejoy Nicephorus D’CRUZE, O.M.I., Bishop of Khulna (BANGLADESH)

The Word of God and Poverty:

The prophets as men of the Word of God were defenders of the rights of the poor, orphans and widows. They spoke on their behalf. Majority of people in Bangladesh live .in poverty deprived of necessities of life and buffeted by natural calamities. In this situation, Christians are called to live the Word of God and share it with these people. The Word of God and the Beatitudes (Lk. 6:20) urge us to become a church of the poor.

Situation of Injustice and Corruption:

Bangladesh is a country where corruption, bribery and injustice are very rampant. A small minority is becoming rich and majority is becoming poorer. The Word of God calls us to justice and integrity in public life. The Church, a tiny minority, makes significant contribution in the areas of education, health and social services. In these areas, the church has to live its solidarity with the poor and uphold justice for all, especially for the poor in the light of the Word of God.

The Word of God invites for Inter-Religious Dialogue:

According to the Council, the Church rejects nothing which is holy and true in these religions.

They often reflect a ray of truth (NA 2). Hence the Church enters into dialogue with them. In the majority Muslim country of Bangladesh, the minority Christian community has to live in peace and harmony and dialogue.

We share the Word of God with Muslims, always in respect of their faith and in dialogue. As the Holy Father, Benedict XVI said, dialogue between Muslims and Christians is a vital necessity on which on future depends in a large measure.

[Original text: English]

— H. Em. Card. James Francis STAFFORD, Penitentiary Major (VATICAN CITY)

The practice of forgiveness and reconciliation within the Church has declined over the past two generations and paradoxically has increased in the secular society. National•Commissions of Truth and Reconciliation are examples of the latter. New encounters between forgiveness and the Word of God are needed.

At one time, the name given to forgiveness of sins by Jesus was appropriately considered, by antonomasia, to be the Good News, i.e., the Gospel. Such forgiveness is intimately associated with sins’ attendant – guilt – and with God’s mercy.

Why raise the concepts of forgiveness, guilt and mercy in a context where the theme is the word of God? There are three motives.

1. Healing is one of the central motifs of the word of God. However, the Instrumentum Laboris does not elaborate on the relation between the Sacraments of Healing – Penance and Anointing of the Sick – and the Word of God. A much stronger and longer treatment of these two sacraments regarding the Word of God is needed.

2. Little attention in the Instrumentum Laboris is given to the Sacrament of marriage in relation to the Word of God. Yet parents are the key catechists of their children. Unless parents are encouraged and assisted to introduce their children to the biblical Jubelruf, the joyous shout described by Pope Benedick XVI in his Jesus of Nazareth, children will grow up having, at best, a truncated perception of themselves as God’s sons and daughters.

3. The faithful should be better informed concerning the plenary indulgence connected with the reverent reading of the Word of God over a period of time (at least 30 minutes).

[Original text: English]

– H.E. Most. Rev. Luis URBANČ, Bishop of Catamarca (ARGENTINA)

We speak about children, but it is difficult for us to speak with children. In the same way, it is easy to speak about God, but difficult to speak with Him.
This era is taking big steps in bioethics and genetics, it is worth stating that science claims to have improved everything since its genesis. Is this not a sign of the times that we make the effort to improve the “genetics” of our Church?

Certainly, it is in the first phase of human life that truth and the fundamental values of the person must be impressed, with which the person may thus construct not only his earthly destiny but also his eternal destiny, for which he was created.

<p>The first right a child has is to discover, gradually, his true Creator, Savior and Sanctifier within the framework of the ecclesial community, which must guarantee him that in “his domestic church” the living and effective Word will teach him and progressively form him to love as he is loved, becoming a servant of his brothers.

The Church must be the voice of those who have no voice. These are children. They are the “poorest of the poor” (cf. Aparecida 476). A civil society, an ecclesial community which does not prioritize childhood and is not inclined to use the best of its abilities and riches for it is condemned to failure and dehumanization. It is childhood which enables the human being to make his passage through this world with awe and commitment.

I hope from this Synod that, th
anks to a greater appreciation of the Word of God and its rejuvenation:

1. The Church will be stimulated to fervently proclaim what it experiences in assiduous contact with the Word of God.

2. That she insists, in the catechism of initiation, on the memorization of important passages of Sacred Scripture, that they may be an axiological, ethical and aesthetic foundation of being and act of the missionary disciple of Jesus Christ.

3. That attentive listening to the Word of God may promote a personal and community adherence to Christ, culminating in the joyful and fraternal celebration of the Eucharist.

4. That it take advantage of contributions made by popular religiosity in terms of listening to the Word of God and transmitting the faith, especially to children.

5. That as the Church surprises the world and surprises us with a worldwide encounter of children, which not only unites them but mobilizes the family as well, in such a way that with this prophetic and courageous gesture we may claim and announce the God of Life, who desires a “culture of life”.

Thank you.

[Original text: Spanish]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Jurij BIZJAK, Titular Bishop of Gergi, Auxiliary Bishop of Koper (SLOVENIA)

I would like to ask a question, perhaps even make a suggestion, which comes to my mind and refers to sacramental finances, point 36 of the Instrumentum laboris.

Since all the sacraments are in order of the Eucharist (Presbyterorum ordinis, no. 5) and since the liturgical acts and symbols take their meaning from the Bible (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no 24), I believe that based on the Word of God the sacraments should be divided into two sacraments of faith, two sacraments of hope, three sacraments of charity.

The two sacraments of faith are baptism and penance. Both are ordered for our existence and are signs of water. The first is baptism which regenerates us as children of God: Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5; Ac 8:36-37; 22:16; Ep 5:25-27; 1 Pet 3:21. The second is confession, which purifies what was corrupted after baptism: Ac 26:18; Jm 4:8-9; 1 P 1:22; 1 Jn 1:9.

The two sacraments of hope are confirmation and annointing. Both are ordered for our acts and are signs of oil. The first is confirmation, which enables us to become witnesses of Christ: Lk 4:18; Ac 4:237; 10:38; 1 Co 9:10; Heb 1:9; 1 Jn 2:20-27. The second one is annointing, which establishes what was weakened after confirmation: Mt 26:7; Mk 6:13; 14:3; Lk 7:38; Jn 12:3; Jm 5:14; Rev 3:18.

The three sacraments of charity are orders, matrimony and Eucharist. All are ordered for our sanctification and are signs of blood. The first is orders: Mk 10:35-40; 14:36; Heb 9:11-14; 10:19-20; 13:20; Jn 17:19; Rv 1:5. The second is matrimony: Ezk 4:25-26; Dt 22:13-19; 1 Co 7:14. The third is Eucharist: Mt 26:27-28; Jn 1:29; 6:53-56; 1 Co 10:16; 11:25. All three are the ways to Charity which is the bond of Christian perfection (Col 3:14). Jurij Bizjak, Delegate of the Slovene Episcopal Conference.

[Original text: Italian]

— H.E. Most. Rev. John HA TIONG HOCK, Archbishop of Kuching (MALAYSIA)

Priests play an important role in promoting the Word of God in the life and ministry of the Church. Thus, formators must cultivate in seminarians a “Word of God” spirituality. To this end, a solid course on the Theology of the Word must be taught in Seminary. Along with this, canonical exegesis should be given to complement the literary and historical study of the Bible. To enhance relevance, biblical hermeneutics and current affairs and trends should be an ongoing course. For personal interiorization, Lectio Divina should be a regular exercise. All these aim to lead seminarians to an encounter with Christ, the Word of God made flesh.
To ensure such formation, seminary formators – especially Bible professors – must be adequately equipped. Together with academic and scientific exegesis, practical training in biblical hermeneutics and biblical-pastoral ministry should be part of the formation of those assigned to do formation work in the seminary. For this purpose, Formation Institutes for Seminary formators, with well worked-out curriculum and staffed with competent personnel should be set up in different Continents or regions.
Trough zealous Word-minded and Word-centered priests, the Word of God will be given its rightful place in the life and ministry of the Church.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Dominique BONNET, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Mouila (GABON)

Evangelization in Africa is achieved thanks to the dual announcement of the Word of God. The first was that of the missionaries sent by the European Mother-Churches, relayed by the priests and autochthonous bishops responsible for the actual Churches in Africa. A second announcement was made at the same time and continues thanks to dynamic teams of catechists entrusted with proclaiming and explaining the Word of God to the many village communities and even to urban communities, visited regularly by the priests.

The Church of Africa owes its blossoming and its extension, for a great part, to those thousands of catechists chosen and placed at the head of these communities due to their faith, their wisdom, their availability to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These are the heros, the saints of evangelization in Africa.

Nourished by the tradition of the uses and customs of their own ethnic groups, they know how to abandon themselves to the Holy Spirit to interpret how the Word of God can arise in our hearts, call upon the mentalities still marked by the law of talion, of vengeance, of fetish spirit and lead men towards the law of love, forgiveness, brotherly sharing.

The village catechists are the ones who knew how to nourish themselves with the New Testament with its parables, which are similar to many proverbs of their ethnic groups. They have digested this divine Word and they knew how to reword it in their own languages, making it more accessible for their brothers and sisters.

On the other hand, since Vatican II, much effort was made to give these collaborators in the Mission a regular formation, to make them apter ro achieve their Mission as messengers of the Word of God. This formation varies according to the dioceses and the environments: urban, rural, mixed. It is given under the form of sessions with a precise theme: for example: “The Gospel of Matthew at the beginning of the Liturgical Year A”. These sessions last over five, ten days at the most, according to the dioceses.

[Original text: French]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Varghese CHAKKALAKAL, Bishop of Kannur (INDIA)

In this synod we must ask together what is the message of God’s Word to a world torn between fundamentalists’ radicalism and irreligious rationalism, consumerism and poverty, hedonism and anxiety, injustice and violence, racism, casteism, sexism, a world manipulated by media themselves controlled by money power?

How can we penetrate the Word of God into the hearts and minds of men and women who are becoming anti religious, anti God, secularistic. How can we present the Word to a world which is moving towards a culture of the eclipse of God?

On one side there is a real search for God but on the other the world is tending towards a Godless world. The world is moving towards a culture which emphasizes a culture of death. Globalization has made the world a small village. The explosion in the information technology has brought the world very close.

But the world is becoming a heartless world with violence, terrorism and war. Our proclamation of the world must aim at a globalization of love. It is only through a culture of love we can save the world, we can create a civilization of goodness and love.

It is in this world we have to proclaim the Word with power that comes from above. It is in this world we have to preach the Word of love – the Christian message can be summarized in three small phrases: God is love, God loves you, I too love you.

I am profoundly convinced that there exists only one good news that can enkindle fi
re in the hearts of men and women. That good news is God loves you and His hands are always opened before you to take you in the infinite joy.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Douglas YOUNG, S.V.D., Archbishop of Mount Hagen (PAPUA NEW GUINEA)

In situations where the Word of God is loved but not followed, what can be done to bring about obedience to the Word?
Christ-centered pastoral planning with biblical dimension is one important step.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. René Osvaldo REBOLLEDO SALINAS, Bishop of Osorno (CHILE)

Our proposal is that the formation of future ministers, in addition to making the Revealed Divine Word known through the comprehension of Sacred Scriptures, create in them a true passion for it, a love that they can transmit and place at the service of the People of God. The work of educators and spiritual directors is therefore considered fundamental in the formation centers and in seminaries in order to enact the “pedagogy of cohabitation”, the makers of contents and values thanks to the transmitted witness.

The passion stirred up in this way must bring educators to dialogue and communion with God through Sacred Scripture, a dynamism that should conclude with personal evangelization and evangelization of the world and its structures. For such reasons, this path is fundamental, as much in the formation transmitted during the first Propaedeutic year of seminary as in the course of the Pastoral Year, for each and every one who aspires to the priesthood. Thanks to this love, which born of nothing less than intimate self of being, involving the whole person, the Word will always be the supreme promoter of the pastoral mission of the Church, continuously questioning our identity as disciples. The great wealth that we must bring to the world of the 21st century is that of stirring up a deep love for Jesus Christ as the actual living Word of God, a proposal of full and definitive meaning for many lives that ignore Him or know Him in a fragmented and superficial way.

[Original text: Spanish]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Elías Samuel BOLAÑOS AVELAR, S.D.B., Bishop of Zacatecoluca (EL SALVADOR)

Since the II Vatican Council we revitalize the reading of the Bible in the Catholic Church, enrich the Lectionaries , give more importance to eh homily, emphasize the Eucharist as source of our Christian life, with the Word of God and of Eucharist.

CHRISTIAN INITIATION must be proposed from childhood (6 to 12 years) with the “School of Faith”, especially in countries where there is no religious teaching in the school: it must be structured with catechism founded on Biblical reports and narrations from the Old and New Testaments suitable for their age, concluding with the preparation and the participation in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Confirmation, preceded by Confession.

Starting from and as conclusion of the Sacrament of Confirmation, let us give the adolescents and youth, a better knowledge of the Word of God, through a course or itinerary for youth on Faith ending with insertion into the work force or the sacrament of Matrimony or with a vocational choice.

As for the adult age, parishes must offer a process of permanent formation and an experience of Faith through living community and groups of reflection and exchange of the meditation of the Word, following the lines of the Lectio divina.

There are already courses that are worthy, such as for example, catechumenal paths, prayer groups, small communities, which allow the faithful to share the Word of God, to reflect upon it together with their brothers in Faith.Tthis community experience leads to a real maturity and firmness in one’s Christian life, in order witness before the world the transforming effectiveness of the Word, as said by PaulVI: today’s world needs witnesses rather than teachers.

[Original text: Spanish]

— Rev. Father José RODRÍGUEZ CARBALLO, O.F.M., Minister General of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor

Consecrated life has its deepest roots in the Word of God and, more concretely, in the Gospel, rule and life of all those who, by divine inspiration, wish to better follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, obedient, poor and chaste. Who wishes to understand and celebrate the grace of the origins of consecrated life must not forget the Gospel.

It is always through the attentive hearing of the Bible and the firm will to put it into practice immediately that gives origin to a specific charismatic experience, as in the case of Saint Francis of Assisi after having read the Gospel of the mission in the Portiuncula.

The Word of God is life, and the text can be understood in depth only inasmuch as it is lived and practiced.

In the Rabbinical and Biblical tradition oberving and practicing the Word is raised to the level of hermeneutics.

The study of the Word as well as its preaching, if remaining on the outskirts of life, will become “letter that kills”. The work of good must follow hearing and knowing the Bible.

Our founders were attentive listeners of the Word and they made their lives a living and prophetic answer to the Word. Following their example, the consecrated persons cannot separate hearing, studying and preaching the Word from its practice.

The Word of God must be listened to attentively, studied assiduously, preached in every place and in every time, but above all it must be lived, “experienced”, thus leading to diakonia (cf. IL 39). Only in this way can it truly be the first source of Christian and religious spirituality (cf. VC 94). Only in this way, the People of God and we the consecrated persons will find in the Word of God the Word that calls, guides and models our existence. Called to being prophets of the future (cf. NMI 3), living the present with passion (cf. NMI 1), consecrated persons will find in the Word of God a “compass that shows us the way to follow” (Benedict XVI).

Called to walk along a lengthy path of research and discernment with men and women of our times, we must do this accompanied by the Word, because only thus consecrated life can be an alternative proposition and a frontier like it was in the lives of our Founding Fathers. Our future, just like the future of Christian life, consists in allowing the Word to form and model us.

[Original text: Spanish]

— Rev. Pascual CHÁVEZ VILLANUEVA, S.D.B., President of the Union of Superiors General, Rector of the Salesian Society of St.John Bosco

The intervention refers to number 53 of the Instrumentum laboris, and it is centered on how to bring the Word of God closer to the world of youth, using the story of Emmaus as the starting point (IL 26b).

The episode, chronicle of a past event, offers us a precise itinerary of evangelization where it is said who, Jesus by means of His word, and how, walking together, to evangelize.

The unexpected conclusion of the journey to Emmaus was the return to Jerusalem to meet again with the community of disciples. The Risen One, who accompanied them during their journey, did not remain with them and they could not stay alone: they returned to the community, where they encounter Christ.

The Word had illuminated their life, but opened neither their eyes nor their hearts to recognize the Risen One. It preceded, however, the invitation to remain, and prepared the gathering around the table.

Jesus, still unrecognized, wanted to accompany the two disciples and to share their worries. Young people today share very few things with these disciples, but perhaps nothing as much as the frustration of their dreams, the fatigue in their faith and the disenchantment in discipleship. Young people need a Church that meets them there where they are.

Like Christ, His Church must teach, and tolerate what happens in and around them, helping them to re-read events in the light of the Word of God. In order to draw them back to the faith, the role of sovereign guide of their existence must be given back to the Word of God.

Arriving to Emmaus, the disci
ples still did not recognize the person of Jesus. What Jesus was unable to do in accompanying them, conversing with them, interpreting the Word of God, He accomplished with the Eucharistic gesture. An education in faith which forgets or postpones the sacramental encounter of young people with Christ, is not a secure, efficient way to find Him.

[Original text: Italian]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Robert RIVAS, O.P., Archbishop of Castries (SAINT LUCY)

The proclamation of the Word is central to the faith life of the people in the Caribbean, a region where people are described as ‘religious’ and Bible-reading. Because the people of the Caribbean place much emphasis on the proclamation of the Word, they have great expectations of the preacher … Given this tendency to favour the proclaimed word, it can be said that shepherds who do not feed the sheep create the conditions for someone else to feed them.

Our focus is on ‘Preaching the Word of God’. This is crucial as the Church in the Caribbean faces up to the challenges of proclaiming the Word in a rapidly changing social, political and religious context.

The world, especially the young, awaits heralds of the good news, and particularly, persons who are more witnesses than teachers (Evangelii Nuntiandi n. 41). Youth represents one of the greatest challenges to the proclamation of the Word … If indeed the Church is to take hold of its future membership, then the Word broken and prayed with young people must become a significant aspect of its mission.

With a concern for a fruitful ministry of preaching in the Church, we, the bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference ask of this Synod:
– to pay particular attention to the Word of God in the Church’s ministry to youth

– to pay keen attention to the contemplation, proclamation and preaching of the Word of God in the formation of seminarians

– to pay special attention to the on-going formation and empowering of our pastors and preachers of the Word

– to pay exemplary attention in ensuring that local Churches make better provision for the language formation and communications skills particularly of priests who are sent or recruited to serve in cultures where the language spoken is not their own.

[Original text: English]

— H. Em. Card. John NJUE, Archbishop of Nairobi (KENYA)

God, in his goodness and wisdom chose to reveal himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of his will. (Cf. Heb 1:1-2) The word of God and the mystery of Christ are tied together. It is in Christ that God speaks to us.

The whole Biblical message is an offer of life that calls for response as God promised through the prophet Isaiah. (Cf. Is 55:10-11). Indeed, the Word of God has not returned to Him void, but has accomplished much. When the Word of God is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit uses it to bring conviction, which leads to repentance and regeneration and communion with God. Scriptures by themselves, do not necessarily make our hearts burn inside (Lk 24:32) but rather like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus preaching in its various forms.

A recent experience of violence in our own Country, Kenya, has shown the great need for the “reconciling Word”. In a world divided and torn, in a world where forgiveness is rare and vengeance all too frequent, in a world where love is difficult and war easy, Christians as the sower in the parable (Lk 8:4-15) must sow “the word” of peace and reconciliation. In the African continent today: in the face of violence, genocide and tribal wars; in the face of hunger, of huge numbers, of refugees and under-development; in the face of bad leadership, corruption; through a new boldness, the Word of God must accompany men and women in life and cause transformation to ways of life and love.

To be quite the proclamation of the Word of God, “the Good news of the Kingdom”, must also be accompanied by signs, that is, saving acts and gestures, following the example of Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For effective re-evangelisation we should make every effort to ensure that all Christians acquire a greater familiarity with the Word of God. Here a great handicap is the lack of good Bible translations in local languages. It is time we invested heavily in good Catholic translations in local dialects.

In Africa the Ethiopian Eunuch is a symbol of us all in search of God in the Scriptures. We indeed encounter God in the Scriptures. “How can I understand unless I have someone to guide me?” (Acts 8:31). This is the basis and heart of the Biblical spirituality. With this hunger and thirst for God’ s word in Africa, we need to have Bibles – no more a Bible for each family but a good Bible for each member of the family in the local language.

[Original text: English]
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