Church Lived New Pentecost in '08, Says Pontiff

Recalls Lessons From Synod of Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2008 ( The world Synod of Bishops celebrated in Rome in October was an opportunity to «experience that in the Church there is Pentecost also today,» says Benedict XVI.

This was one of the affirmations made by the Pope today when he had his traditional exchange of Christmas greetings with prelates and members of the Roman Curia. In this annual address, the Holy Father highlights key events of the year; this year he also touched on July’s World Youth Day and his trips to the United States and France.

In the synod, he said, «pastors from all over the world gathered around the Word of God, which had been raised up in their midst; around the Word of God, whose great manifestation is found in sacred Scripture.»

This Pentecost experience, the Holy Father suggested, had two senses: On one hand, «the Church speaks in many tongues, since all the great languages of the world are represented in it.» But there is also a deeper meaning, he continued: «In [the Church] the multiple forms of the experience of God and the world, the richness of cultures, are present. And only thus does the amplitude of human experience appear, and from that, the amplitude of the Word of God.»

Nevertheless, the Pontiff said that the synod fathers also «understood that Pentecost is still ‘on the way,’ is still incomplete: There are a multitude of tongues that still await the Word of God contained in the Bible.»

God speaks

Benedict XVI suggested that the most important element of the synod was «rediscovering something that in day to day life we take for granted: the fact that God speaks, that God responds to our questions, the fact that he, though in human words, speaks in person and we can hear him and, in hearing him, learn to know and understand him.»

The Word of God, he continued, «directs itself to each one of us, speaks to the heart of each one.»

The Pope added: «[W]e have realized again that — precisely because the Word is so personal — we can understand it in the correct and total way only in the ‘we’ of the community instituted by God: always remaining aware that we can never exhaust it entirely; that it has something new to say to every generation.»

The Holy Father expressed his hope that «the experiences and accomplishments of the synod efficaciously influence the life of the Church.»

He particularly mentioned the unprecedented participation of Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and of Shear Yashuv Cohen, chief rabbi of Haifa.

Regarding the intervention from Bartholomew I, the Pontiff said it was «an important moment for the synod, and even more, for the journey of the Church in its entirety.»

He also recalled the «moving testimonies of laypeople from around the world, who not only live the Word of God but also suffer for it.»

«We have seen that the message of Scripture does not remain in the past nor can it be enclosed there; God, ultimately, always speaks to the present, and we will have heard the Bible fully only when we have discovered this ‘present’ of God who calls us now,» the Bishop of Rome said. «This Word has shaped a common history and it wants to continue doing so.»

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