Synod Propositions 46-50

Conclusions of Episcopal Assembly on Word of God

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2008 ( Here are translations of the synodal propositions 46-50, which were submitted to Benedict XVI at the end of the world Synod of Bishops on the “Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” held in October at the Vatican.

ZENIT will publish a translation of the last five propositions Wednesday.

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Proposition 46

Faithful reading of Scripture: historical authenticity and fundamentalism

Faithful reading of sacred Scripture, practiced since antiquity in the Tradition of the Church, seeks the truth that saves for the life of each faithful and for the Church. This reading acknowledges the historic value of the biblical tradition. It is precisely because of this value of historic testimony that it desires to rediscover the profound meaning of sacred Scripture destined also for the life of today’s believer.

Such a reading of Scripture differs from “fundamentalist interpretations,” which ignore the human mediation of the inspired text and its literary genres. To use “lectio divina” fruitfully, the believer must be educated “not to confuse unknowingly the human limits of the biblical message with the divine essence of the message itself” (cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, I F).

Proposition 47

We are profoundly concerned over the increase and mutation of the phenomenon of sects. In fact, the sects of various origins seem to offer an experience of God’s closeness to a person’s life and promise an illusory happiness through the Bible, often interpreted in a fundamentalist way.

We propose:

— Through a vital correct hermeneutic of the biblical pages, to intensify pastoral activity to provide the food of the Word to the faithful seeking it;

— To learn from the rich experience of the first centuries of the Church, which, however, knew similar phenomena (cf. 1 John 2:19; 4:2-3);

— To know better the peculiar characteristics, the causes and promoters of the sects exactly as they present themselves today;

— To help the faithful to distinguish well the Word of God from private revelations;

— To stimulate groups that share and meditate in order to counteract the attraction of the sects and fundamentalism.

It is necessary that priests are adequately prepared to address this new situation, making them capable of proposing a biblical animation of pastoral care, adapted to the problems that people face today.

We ask the Holy See to study, in collaboration with the episcopal conferences and the competent structures of the Catholic Eastern Churches, the phenomenon of the sects in its global scope and also in its local repercussions.

Proposition 48

Bible and inculturation

Revelation was constituted by taking from the different human cultures the authentic values capable of expressing the truth that God communicated to men for our salvation (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 11). The Word of God, in as much as revelation, introduced in cultures the knowledge of truth that would otherwise have been unknown and created cultural progress and development. The Lord’s command to the Church to proclaim the Word of God implies taking the Word of God to all peoples on earth and their cultures. This implies the same process of inculturation of the Word of God as occurs in Revelation.

Hence, the Word of God must penetrate every environment so that culture produces original expressions of life, liturgy and Christian thought (cf. “Catechesi Tradendae,” 53). This takes place when the Word of God, proposed to a culture, “fertilize as from within the spiritual qualities and traditions of each people, confirms them, perfects them and recapitulates them in Christ” (“Gaudium et Spes,” 58), thus eliciting new expressions of Christian life.

For a genuine inculturation of the evangelical message, the formation of missionaries with adequate means must be ensured, to know in-depth the vital ambience and the socio-cultural conditions, so that they can be inserted in the environment, the language and the local cultures. It corresponds to the local Church in the first place to achieve a genuine inculturation of the evangelical message, paying attention of course to the risk of syncretism. The quality of inculturation depends on the degree of maturity of the evangelizing community.

Proposition 49

Mission “ad gentes”

The Word of God is a good for all men, which the Church must not keep to herself but share with joy and generosity with all peoples and cultures, so that they also can find in Jesus Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. John 14:6).

Looking at the example of St. Paul, of the Apostles and of so many missionaries that, in the course of history, took the Gospel to peoples, this Synod reaffirms the urgency of the mission “ad gentes” also in our time — a proclamation that must be explicit, made not only within our churches but everywhere and must be accompanied by a coherent testimony of life, which makes the content evident and reinforces it.

Bishops, priests, deacons, persons of consecrated life and laymen must also be close to persons who do not participate in the liturgy and do not frequent our communities. The Church must go out to all with the strength of the Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:5) and continue to defend prophetically the right and liberty of persons to listen to the Word of God, seeking the most effective means to proclaim it, not excluding the risk of persecution.

Proposition 50

Bible and interreligious dialogue

The dialogue with non-Christian religions is a significant moment in the life of the Church and in the dialogue with men. Monotheisms, the traditional religions of Africa and Australia, the ancient spiritual traditions of Asia have values of respect and collaboration that can greatly foster understanding between persons and societies. The guidelines of this dialogue are in the declaration “Nostra Aetate” of Vatican II. The synod also reminds of the need to effectively ensure for all believers the freedom to profess their own faith in private and public, as well as freedom of conscience.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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