Synod Interventions of 15th General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2008 ( Here are summaries of the interventions given Tuesday afternoon at the 15th general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is on «The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.»

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— H.E. Most. Rev. Peter MARZINKOWSKI, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Alindao (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC)

We have seen that the Word of God, while being at the center of Catechism, is unknown to the catechumenate. Because of this, there is a need to rethink the relationship between catechism and the Biblical apostolate.

The socio-economic and political situation of the RCA is catastrophic and worsens more and more. The population has lost hope and falls into lethargy and fear. The people fall back into the practices of traditional religions, since Christianity doesn’t seem to answer the expectations anymore.

Many young persons no longer have any future and look to fundamentalist sects and charismatic groups that take over and make them forget the situation of poverty in which they find themselves.

The Episcopal Conference feels that a Biblical pastoral ministry should be practiced. Once it has been rooted in the Word of God, the Central African people can leave the marasma to give hope in a more human future and to propose evangelical values to build a new society.

We wish to become a Church in solidarity of the poor and the image of God who loves the marginalized ones.

[Original text: French]

— H.E. Most. Rev. José Sotero VALERO RUZ, Bishop of Guanare (VENEZUELA)

From Instrumentum Laboris No. 39: “The three elements which make up the essential nature of the Church: proclamation of the Word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebration of the sacraments (leitourgia) and the exercise of the ministry of charity (diakonia)”.

There is another word missing and needs to be added to these four Greek words: Kerygma-martiria, leitourgia and diakonia, the word is categen. Five important Greek words in the New Testament and in the History of the Church.

In the pastoral Project of the New Evangelization these five Greek words are key points.

In the Synod on Evangelization the words kerygma-martiria stand out. The same can be said of the document Evangelii Nuntiandi, by Paul VI.

The word categen stands out from the Synod on Catechesis and from the document Catechesis tradendae by John Paul II as it does from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from the General Directory of Catechesis.

The word leitourgia stands out from the Synod on the Eucharist and from the synodal document Sacramentum Caritatis.
The word diakonia stands out in a special manner from the Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est.

With these five Greek words (kerygma-martiria, categen, leitourgia and diakonia), the Holy Spirit together with the Word of God constructed and continue to construct the Church in the world.

[Original text: Spanish]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Peter Antony MORAN, Bishop of Aberdeen (SCOTLAND)


Previous speakers have emphasized

(1) profound Christological aspects of the Word of God

(2) the preservation of the Word of God under persecution or poverty

(3) practical formation of readers and others

I wish to speak of the Word of God continually new.

I give one exegetical example (John 2: Cana) and one example from the role of the liturgical reader.

[Original text: English]

— H.E. Most. Rev. António Maria BESSA TAIPA, Titular Bishop of Tabbora, Auxiliary Bishop of Porto (PORTUGAL)

1.- In Chap. I about the Word of God in my opinion, it would be good to relate the Mystery of the Word of God as well as the Eucharistic Mystery. In fact, it is in the Eucharist that the Word of God, the word made Word, expresses all its significant and performative force.

This would be a way to help in understanding the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist Liturgy as a single liturgical action.

2.- In Chap. II we talk about Sacred Scripture. Here too we could establish the relationship between Sacred Scripture, the Mystery of the Bible and the Eucharist Mystery. If in the Eucharist we have the consecrated bread, we can also say that the Bible is consecrated human Word.

It would help to look at the Sacred Scripture also as a special book, holy, human-divine. To consider and venerate it in its Mystery.

3.- Finally as regards Chap. V, n° 41, determinating factors for listening to the Word of God that we are looking for in the Bible, besides faith, are: the assiduous reading, the demanding study, obedience, poverty, freedom that are spoken of in No. 41, and the focusing on the world and on history. To the world of men. We listen, see and read what is happening. We know it,. I also think that it will be necessary to love this world, our world, that God has loved and loves. Loving it with its pains and sufferings, with its disappointments and anguishes, with its search for peace, of dignified life and that many times it takes a wrong direction. Loving it also in the achievements in favor of man and as his dignity as a person.

This will help to open the path of its progression to the Word and will allow it to penetrate its never-ending novelty, produced by the innovation of every age.

[Original text: Italian]

— H. Em. Card. Antonio María ROUCO VARELA, Archbishop of Madrid, President of the Episcopal Conference (SPAIN)

To make the Word of God leaven of modern culture presupposes keeping in mind one of the traits that characterizes it mostly, especially in the Euro-American context, that is to say, the immanentistic concept of man and the world, without any explicit or implicit reference to God the Creator and Redeemer of man. This characteristic can be seen in particular in socio-political and juridical culture. The modern State, in its radical lay version, led to, in the XX century, the totalitarian forms of Soviet Communism and National Socialism. Naturally, the Christian vision of life continued being alive and working on a juridical-social level in the culture of modernity. There was even a return to natural law, starting with the “Ius Gentiuni” of the School in Salamanca. Post-modernity has embittered today’s concept of man, of society and the political-juridical order in their most negative aspects, opening the road to existential nichilism and to the “dictatorship” of ethical relativism. The legal approach to the right to life, as if the State could dispose of it in an unlimited way, is eloquent proof of what has been said. Therefore, we need a cultural answer from the Gospel that, in sincere dialogue between faith and reason, shows the truth of God the Creator and Redeemer of man to public life: the “God who is love”. The lay persons must be those most actively involved.

[Original text: Spanish]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Phillip PÖLLITZER, O.M.I., Bishop of Keetmanshoop (NAMIBIA)

In the Instrumentum laboris, I see a lack of visibility in two fundamental themes: the Holy Spirit and the missio ad extra. Both these aspects almost disappear in the technical theological language. True, they are not mentioned many times in an explicit way, however, I would like to see them explained and used more often in an explicit way.

1. The Holy Spirit.

Where is the Holy Spirit in the Instrumentum laboris? Hidden between the lines of casual statements? If, then like now, the Word of God was made and is present in such a way and under every aspect through the Holy Spirit, then we should also state this in a clear way. The strategies for the proclamation should be illustrated/practiced in a specific way in the perspective of the Holy Spirit.

2. The missio ad extra.

I am not referring to the “missionary territories”, rather to the missionary duty in front of our house! A good example does not suffice by itself. The direct word is necessary for those who are far away as well as for the millions of non-Christians that today, in the West, come, as we can say, directly into the arms of Mother Church. What does Mother Church do? She trembles, discouraged. In clear words: do we do enough, in a direct and knowledgeable way, for the persons far away and
for migrants? The Holy Spirit, through us, can speak to those who are in the throes of the secular or ethnic-traditional spirit/evil spirit!

[Original text: German]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Rimantas NORVILA, Bishop of Vilkaviškis (LITHUANIA)

I would like to underline what was mentioned in No. 57 of the Instrumentum Laboris regarding the research into the so-called “history of effects” of the Bible in culture and the common ethos. We cannot forget the fruits that the Word of God, fallen as a seed, produced and continues to produce in the hearts of the faithful and of all people of good will, and consequently, in all of history. This abundant fruit cannot be forgotten for it yields “a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (Mk 4:20), hidden beneath “discord”. It would be appropriate to show “history of grace and truth” that cannot be reduced to the “history of sin”.

In her millennial experience, the Church of Christ has faced various challenges, nor does the present moment seem entirely hopeless. Remaining in faith and not losing hope, we also discover today encouraging experiences, that re-emphasize – for ourselves first of all – that the mission of the Church is possible in every time and place, particularly in today’s world. We should not be discouraged, even if we feel the fatigue because of the scarcity of collaborators, the limited resources, the not always encouraging responses to the initiatives taken. The words of Jesus were not always well received.

Taking into account the parable of the “householder who brings out from his storeroom new things as well as old” (Mt 13:52), all of us — sacred ministers — bishops, priests — belonging to the consecrated life and all lay brothers — are expected to find old and new ways to proclaim the Good News.

I would like to refer to No. 27 of the Instrumentum Laboris, regarding the pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Rightly, the Holy Land is called the “fifth gospel”. It represents, for the well-known references to the historical life of Jesus, a privileged occasion for the pastoral work of the Word of God and its more profound and authentic knowledge, in addition to its being a real sign of Christian solidarity towards our brothers and sisters who live in that Land.

[Original text: Italian]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Velasio DE PAOLIS, Titular Archbishop of Telepte, President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See (VATICAN CITY)

The Word is God’s way of giving Himself in the history of different stages of the history of salvation. Along with each of God’s gifts, man is offered the possibility of answering this gift and a signpost for the road to follow. The moral action of the Christian does not trace its origin to the obligation to obey laws but to being a new creature in Christ who consists of an answer of love to God. The source and the means of moral actions for Christians is love, that necessarily passes along the road of the observance of the Word of God; the believer is called to carry out, through love, the works of the law. The act of Christian morality is a Paschal morality; a morality that consists of dwelling in Christ, in the testimony of love towards God the Father and our neighbors through the Holy Spirit.

Vatican Council II with the decree Ad Gentes underlined the need for a specific mission, consistent in its first announcement to those not of the Christian faith (Missio ad gentes). Over time quite a few factors have contributed to weaken the commitment of this mission. The need for a Missio ad gentes is connected to fundamental truths of the Christian faith, underlined particularly by the declaration Dominus Jesus (On the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church; Unicity and unity of the Church). The Encyclical Redemptoris Missio of 1990 reiterates the need for the Missio ad gentes. The confusion between the mission as caring for souls or as new evangelization on the one hand and the Missio ad gentes continues to exist.

I think it is necessary that this Synod, inspired by Redmptoris Missio, reiterates the commitment of the Church to the Missio ad gentes. The renewed vitality of the Church has been shown, over the course of history, above all in the new missionary commitment ad gentes.

It is opportune to remember that today with migration new horizons open up. A large part of the migrants who come to live with us are not Christians. The individual Churches, other than being sensitive to welcoming them in line with the principles of Christian love, have to also be able to find the ways to announce to them the mystery of Christ the Savior of all men. We have to see the future of the Church in this work of evangelization.

[Original text: Italian]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Jean Gaspard MUDISO MUND’LA, S.V.D., Bishop of Kenge (CONGO R.)

My intervention is about the Biblical Apostolate, precisely the preparation or formation of future priests to the Biblical Apostolate as an academic discipline in the seminaries and institutes of religious formation. I am referring to the Instrumentum laboris, no. 49, #4; Sacramentum caritatis, no. 46.
If the Word of God is to inspire all the pastoral ministry of the Church (Instrumentum laboris, no. 48; DV no. 24), we must rethink or revise the formation in the large seminaries and in the institutes for the religious persons. Because the Word of God is not and cannot be a teaching subject like any other, on the same level as others.

Therefore, there is a need for very serious preparation, academic, scientific and spiritual, for future priests. However, we deplore a certain lack on this subject in the formation given in seminaries. Bible studies tend to privilege the lectio scholastica, the academic reading of the Bible that mainly transmits intellectual knowledge, those that of course are necessary, but leave a void as to spiritual reading, that is to say the pastoral dimension of the Word of God.

Rightly so, the Biblical Apostolate wishes to fill this void as an academic discipline. It wishes the believer to encounter the Lord who addresses him and calls upon him in the concrete moments of his life. This course could have a dual finality:

a) Awaken a sharp conscience in the seminarian of Scriptures as the Word of God, the source of Christian life and the instrument of the pastoral ministry.

b) Help the seminarian translate his knowledge of Scriptures into the daily situations of life (CF. BICAM: Syllabus, Accra 2008, p. 21).

[Original text: French]

— H.E. Most. Rev. Johannes Harmannes Jozefus VAN DEN HENDE, Bishop of Breda (NETHERLANDS)

Catechesis on the nature of the Church in the light of the Holy Scripture, together with catechesis on the Holy Scripture in communion with the Church.

[Original text: Latin]
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