Report Given at 17th General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2008 ( Here is a summary of the «relatio post disceptationem» (report after discussion) given Wednesday afternoon by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City, at the seventeenth general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops.

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The assembly on «The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church» is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26.

The report concluded the 5-minute interventions from the prelates, fraternal delegates and auditors.

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The Report after the Discussion (Relatio post disceptationem), presented by the Relator General H. Em. Card. Marc OUELLET, opened by underlining how the initial discussion in the Synod Hall on the theme The Word of God in the Life and in the Mission of the Church was done in a brotherly climate of listening to the Word of God and of attention to the presence of the Lord in the midst of His disciples, an atmosphere facilitated by the Inaugural Mass in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, by the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the death of the Servant of God and Supreme Pontiff Pius XII and by the Canonization of four new saints, which drew a framework of privileged prayer for the Synod works and expressed the life itself of the Church.

According to the Ordo Synodi Epsicoporum, the Relator General explained, the role of the Report after the Discussion is to present a synthesis of the discussion held in the Hall, because the main elements to be discussed in the Working Groups will emerge. Therefore, the Report offers the Synod Fathers a framework to simplify the studies of the theme and the preparation of the pastoral propositions to be presented to the Holy Father. This synthesis emerges from the interventions made in the Hall after the Report before the Discussion (Relatio ante disceptationem) and is elaborated from the general outline in ten chapters, chosen by the Relator General and developed with the help of the Special Secretary and the Experts. Following the division used in the Instrumentum laboris, the material is presented in three parts.

The first part is entitled “God speaks and hears” and contains three points: 1 — Revelation, creation, the history of salvation; 2 — Christ, the Spirit and the Church; 3 — the Word of God, liturgy, listening.
The first point begins with a consideration on the reflection of the Holy Father Benedict XVI who, commenting on Psalm 18, recalled that the Word of God is solid, it is reality, it is the stable and lasting foundation of every thing.

Beginning with this invitation to a new realism based on the Word of God, the Synodal Assembly — the Relator General explained — led to a very worthwhile discussion. The synthesis continues dealing with the topic of “Revelation and Intra-Trinitarian Dialogue”, the dialogic characteristic of the Word, whose foundations can be found in the Mystery of the Trinity and which calls man to dialogue; the “Word of God and the history of salvation”, the revelation as a dialogical movement in which God addresses His creature and leads it to the fullness of salvation; finally, the history of salvation, achieved in the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Word and in the definitive gift of the Holy Spirit.

The second point presents Christ, the fullness and achievement of the Trinitarian revelation; Christ, the sole mediator, and dialogue; the Mystery of the Church, the action of the Holy Spirit and the interpretation of the Scriptures.

The third point recalls the sacramental dimension inherent in the Word of God and the importance, underlined by many interventions by the Synod Fathers, that the relationship existing between the Word of God and the liturgy and, in particular, the Eucharistic Liturgy, should be reinforced; the anthropological dimension of God’s revelation in His Word, whereby man is a being called to hear the Word; the Church, mother and teacher of listening to the Word of God; finally, the relationship between the Word and vocation, the Word and the poor, Word, silence and prayer, the Word and faith, the Word and holiness.
The second part is entitled: “The Word of God, Holy Scripture, Tradition” and is developed in four points: 1 — Event, encounter, interpretation, 2 — Unity, primacy, circularity; 3 — Eucharist, homily, community; 4 — Exegesis, theology, lectio divina.

In the first point, “Event, encounter, interpretation” the Word of God is presented as an event in history. Many interventions underlined the fact that the Word of God as such cannot be merely identified with the Sacred Scripture, although the two terms are often believed to be synonymous. The expressed doctrine in fact in the Dei Verbum clearly states that the Word of God is transmitted inseparably in the inspired written Word (Holy Scriptures) and in the living Tradition of the Church.

The synthesis continues dealing with the interpretation and the connection between Sacred Scripture and the life of the faithful in the Church; the Word of God and the cultural challenges of our times.
In the second point, called “Unity, primacy, circularity”, the themes of unity and the primacy of the Word of God are presented, as well as the unity of the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium expressed by the Dei Verbum; the work of the Holy Spirit in the triple-connection Scripture-Tradition-Magisterium.

The third point, “Eucharist, homily, community” deals with the relationship between Scripture and the Eucharist, with the question, which emerged from the Synodal discussion, on how to privilege, among the faithful, a more unitary perception of this relationship; the sacramental dimension of the Word, the Word and eschatological dimension; the celebration of the Word; the importance of the homily; art as an analogical form of preaching; finally, the relationship between the Word of God, celebration and community.

The fourth point, “Exegesis, theology, lectio divina”, deals with the relationship between exegesis and theology and presents the Lectio Divina as the individual and community reading of a passage, recalling that the approach to the sacred text, when personally done by the faithful, cannot be separated from communion and from the ecclesial context.

Finally, the third part is called “The Word of God, mission, dialogue” and contains three points: 1 — Witness, kerygma, catechesis; 2 — Culture, dialogue, commitment; 3 — Communication, proclamation, translations. In this part, under the second point “Culture, dialogue, commitment”, the Word of God is presented as an ecumenical bond and the source of dialogue between the faithful and Jews; the synthesis continues by presenting the Word of God in the sphere of interreligious dialogue, in its relationship with cultures and as a call to commitment. Many Synod Fathers spoke about inculturation, and an intervention in the Hall pointed out the Christological foundation of this. The last point focuses on the urgency, expressed many times by the Synod Fathers, in making the Bible available in all languages, including the unwritten ones; deals with new possibilities of transmitting the Holy Scriptures through the modern means of communication, underlines the proposal mentioned by several Synodal Fathers to create a specific ministry or to enhance the lectorate in the Church.

In conclusion, the Relator General recalled how all the Synod Fathers feel the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel and how the new possibilities of communication invite one to take on the original initiative to spread the knowledge and to love Christ and the Scriptures, to favor the unity of Christians and to contribute to justice and peace in the world. At the end of the Report, some questions were listed that might be useful in the Working Groups.

[Original text: Italian]
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