Full Text of Interventions at Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Official Summary and Full Texts of yesterday’s Interventions at the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith. 

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At 16:30 today Thursday October 11 2012, with the recital of Psalm 116 (117), the Sixth General Congregation began, for the second voting on the Commission for the Message and to continue the interventions by the Synodal Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal theme «The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith».

The President Delegate on duty H. Em. Card. John TONG HON, Bishop of Hong Kong (CHINA).

During the general Congregation, several Fraternal Delegates took the floor.

A time for free interventions followed.

At this General Congregation, which ended at 19.00 with the prayer Angelus Domini, 250 Fathers were present.


During the General Congregation, the second ballots for the election of the Commission for the Message were cast.


The following Fathers intervened.

– Rev. F. Robert Francis PREVOST, O.S.A., Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine (Augustinians)
– H. B. Grégoire III LAHAM, B.S., Patriarch of Antiochia of the Greek-Melkites, Head of the Synod of the Greek-Melkite Church (SYRIA)
– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. José Dolores GRULLÓN ESTRELLA, Bishop of San Juan de la Maguana (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)
– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Joseph VU DUY THÔNG, Bishop of Phan Thiêt (VIETNAM)
– Rev. F. Renato SALVATORE, M.I., Superior General of the Clerks Regular of the Ministers of the Sick (Camillians) (ITALY)
– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Gérald Cyprien LACROIX, Archbishop of Québec (CANADA)
– H. Em. Rev. Card. Joachim MEISNER, Archbishop of Cologne (GERMANY)
– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Yves LE SAUX, Bishop of Le Mans (FRANCE)
– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Ján BABJAK, S.I., Metropolitan Archbishop of Prešov of the Catholics of Byzantine Rite, President of the Council of the Slovak Church (SLOVAKIA)
– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Bruno FORTE, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto (ITALY)
– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Tadeusz KONDRUSIEWICZ, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev (BELARUS)

The summaries of the interventions are published below:

– Rev. F. Robert Francis PREVOST, O.S.A., Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine (Augustinians)

At least in the contemporary western world, if not throughout the entire world, the human imagination concerning both religious faith and ethics is largely shaped by mass media, especially by television and cinema. Western mass media is extraordinarily effective in fostering within the general public enormous sympathy for beliefs and practices that are at odds with the Gospel.

However, overt opposition to Christianity by mass media is only part of the problem. The sympathy for anti-Christian lifestyle choices that mass media fosters is so brilliantly and artfully engrained in the viewing public, that when people hear the Christian message it often inevitably seems ideological and emotionally cruel by contrast to the ostensible humaneness of the anti-Christian perspective.

If the “New Evangelization” is going to counter these mass media-produced distortions of religious and ethical reality successfully, pastors, preachers, teachers and catechists are going to have to become far more informed about the challenge of evangelizing in a world dominated by mass media. 

The Fathers of the Church, including Saint Augustine, can provide eminent guidance for the Church in this aspect of the New Evangelization, precisely because they were masters of the art of rhetoric. Their evangelizing was successful in great part because they understood the foundations of social communication appropriate to the world in which they lived.

In order to combat successfully the dominance of the mass media over popular religious and moral imaginations, it is not sufficient for the Church to own its own television media or to sponsor religious films. The proper mission of the Church is to introduce people to the nature of mystery as an antidote to spectacle. Religious life also plays an important role in evangelization, pointing others to this mystery, through living faithfully the evangelical counsels. 

[00062-02.04] [IN039] [Original text: English]

– H. B. Grégoire III LAHAM, B.S., Patriarch of Antiochia of the Greek-Melkites, Head of the Synod of the Greek-Melkite Church (SYRIA)New evangelization is synonymous to updating. This Council is an update. The council documents are the prelude to our Synod.

Three points to my intervention
1. Formation or creation of frameworks

We, the Christians in the Orient, we bathe in a non-Christian world: we are the small flock, ad extra in relation to Islam, and ad intra because of the decrease of religious practice.

The Realpolitik imposes upon us to work in keeping in mind this dual reality ad extra and ad intra. This means to concentrate our pastoral work of the New Evangelization on this small flock, without excluding the whole of our faithful that practice to a lesser degree.

This small flock must be excellent, to form through it the team of agents of New Evangelization. 

Even if the Church grows to huge dimensions, she must maintain the strategy of the small flock.

This is the meaning, the essence, the motivation, the reason for being of the Eastern small flock and everywhere. This is the apostolic strategy: to form the small flock to being with and for the large flock.

2. Vademecum of the Christian faith

Our faith is beautiful. However its content and its statements are very difficult.
The proclamation of the faith in Islam can be summarized by this dual witness: “There is no other god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet”.

For the Jews, the substance of the Faith is expressed by the double commandment: “I am your God! You have no other but me. You will love your God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself!”.
Our beautiful Christian faith is too complicated: the terms, their content and their explanation. We bathe in an ensemble of dogmas, of mysteries: the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, Redemption, the Sacraments (called mysteries by the Greeks).

These dogmas must be interpreted in a form capable of touching upon daily life, human aspirations, happiness and prosperity, the daily realities of our faithful.

From this, we can see the great importance and need for the New Evangelization to create a concise, precise and clear text on our Faith. This is important for our faithful ad intra, as well as for our fellow non-Christian citizens ad extra.

I hope that this proposition can find its path, and that theologians will be charged with it at the end of our Synod.

3. Practical program

The New Evangelization is necessarily conditioned by the specificity of the local Church; in time, the context of Tradition, customs, culture, needs. For this reason, I have also presented an essay from an Eastern point of view, Catholic Greek-Melchite, Arabic, of the New Evangelization with practical propositions.

See the list in the complete text of my intervention.

[00084-02.02] [IN055] [Original text: French]

– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. José Dolores GRULLÓN ESTRELLA, Bishop of San Juan de la Maguana (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)

Among the subjects privileged to carry out the New Evangelization, other than the dioceses, parishes and families, there are also the small communities, formed by a small group of people who gather like the primordial cells of an ecclesial structure to live the faith, train themselves, evangelize and undertake community actions.

These communities in the Dominican Republic appear like the fruit of a real pastoral conversion, of the responsible parish members, who decide to structure the whole people of God in living and dynamic evangelizing communities.The first step is ta
ken by the parochial pastoral groups led by their priests who divide the parish into sectors so that they go from being large to small.

The next stage is calling, calling all the baptized. This calling is the work of visionaries who are enthusiastic about God’s great project.

The third stage is to encourage the meeting with Christ through the announcement of the Kerygma. Those who agree to become animators of communities are called on to prepare themselves for this mission. They organize the community in all its sectors, in all the city blocks and apartment buildings.

To create fraternal and evangelizing Christian communities, the Church needs priests and lay people who remain with Jesus and refuse him nothing; who let themselves be encouraged by the Spirit of Jesus capable of reviving faith and providing ardor and passion; who announce the Kerygma with courage and witness of life; who feel called by Jesus to be disciples; who live the joy of walking with a people who follow the path of salvation; who know how to work in a team, going in the same direction with a shared project; who are so in love with God as to infect everyone else; who are passionate about Christ and his missionary action; who are evangelizers who sow amidst tears.

[00083-02.02] [IN056] [Original text: Spanish]

– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Joseph VU DUY THÔNG, Bishop of Phan Thiêt (VIETNAM)

After reading number 81 of the Instrumentum laboris, I would like to draw your attention on the role of the parish in the evangelizing action and in the transmission of the faith.

In the ecclesial plan, each parish is a fundamental unit of the local Church, however it also has the ability to make the universal Church visible. Being a church that is close to people in a concrete place, the life of a parish should be organized respectively like that of the universal Church, while maintaining its own vitality, one can feel close to the universal Church. We find ourselves immediately participating member and member participating in the local Church. If in financial life we say “think globally, work locally”, is it also pertinent to say “think affectionately with the universal Church and act effectively in the local Church”?

In the pastoral plan, each parish has a concrete place for meeting with those in charge of parish life. A pastoral is qualified as more or less animated thanks to the majority of effective exchanges by the parish members during these encounters. A well- prepared, well-discussed and well-decided pastoral program would certainly bear fruits that enliven the entire parish community. In my diocese in Phan Thiet, parishes still play an important role in the pastoral activities because of the country’s political reasons. We are not allowed to meet religiously in a place other than the parish space, this is why the Church and the presbyter are positive addresses for the meetings of all parishioners for catechetical formation and the transmission of faith.

In the missionary plan, each parish is also an environment of fraternity where individuals get to know each other and recognize each other very well. We know one person, his family, his job and even his intellectual or human qualities. And we recognize him in his totality, and based on this, missionary programs are proposed in a parish.

[00085-02.02] [IN057] [Original text: French]

– Rev. F. Renato SALVATORE, M.I., Superior General of the Clerks Regular of the Ministers of the Sick (Camillians) (ITALY)

Attention to the sick is essential in the evangelizing mission of the Church out of faith to Jesus who “made a tour through all the towns and villages… proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and all kinds of illness” (Mt 9:35).

The Church is a community of people “healed” by the Lord and that therefore becomes a “healing” community. Christ, the healer of souls and bodies, offers health/salvation to man in the totality of his dimensions: body, mind and spirit. In fact, he “came to cure man in his entirety, body and soul” (CCC 1503).

Blessed John Paul II affirmed “The Church has to try to meet man in a special way on the path of his suffering” (Salvifici doloris 3). “The awareness that the service to the sick and suffering is an ‘integral part of the mission of the Church’ makes it urgent to incorporate into the evangelizing process the promotion of health and the commitment to alleviate suffering and care of the infirm, in obedience to Christ’s command, whose action is closely connected to the task of evangelization and healing the sick” (Italian Bishops’ Conference, 2006, no. 2).

[00086-02.03] [IN058] [Original text: Italian]

– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Gérald Cyprien LACROIX, Archbishop of Québec (CANADA)

We are engaged in the New Evangelization because we are men and women who have first had a personal encounter with Jesus, Lord and Savior. The witness of this encounter is the first requirement so that the hearts of our brothers and sisters may be joined. Revisiting this experience allows us the be in contact again with the original grace of this encounter and its unceasing renewal. Evangelized, we are called to evangelize with the same courage and audacity of the first Christians, with an absolute confidence in God. Evangelization is the business of the whole Church and each of its members. Good will to us when we evangelize!

[00087-02.04] [IN059] [Original text: French]

– H. Em. Rev. Card. Joachim MEISNER, Archbishop of Cologne (GERMANY)

It is in the nature of the faith that it is spread and that it can be transmitted. The story of the Apostles demonstrated this in the person of Philip, who is led by the Spirit of God to Jerusalem on the way of Gaza (cf. Act 8:26-40). He meets an official of the queen of Ethiopia, sitting on a cart and studying a text by Isaiah, which he had bought from a merchant of religious materials in the temple area. Philip asks the distinguished man if he understands what he is reading. We know the answer: “How could I, unless I have someone to guide me?” (Act 8:31). Philip gets on the cart, explains the Writings to him and after a while the official stops the cart and asks to be baptized in a nearby stream. Here we can see a Church that moves, which walks along streets and questions men.

Today, the majority of Christians are happy if nobody questions them. Of five persons met every day in the street, three are in the same situation as the Ethiopian official, returning from any religious socialization in their daily life. They bear the burden of information on the meaning of their life buried in the past, which they sadly leaf through, without understanding what it has to do with their life. It is as if they had bought a piece of the Biblical message, just like the traveler who had bought the passage by Isaiah, but that do not have anybody to guide them, nobody to create a bridge between the word of faith and their daily life. Evidently, for many of today’s individuals being part of the modern world means not being interested in religious questions.

Actually, at least in Europe, a large part of mankind is still working its way through questions and do not know or do not admit that these are religious questions. Therefore, the place for spreading the faith is the street of our cities and of our villages. And there is no need to turn to an professional Christianity to obey God’s calling. It will suffice to walk briefly along the street together; this can mean a lot as we saw happening to Philip. Often we don’t allow ourselves to get involved in the problems of another person, thinking that we must resolve their problems. Perhaps there is the need for a little listening, understanding and the good work of putting oneself in the other’s shoes, to get on the cart of their life and take their questions seriously. This means to start and reflect on the place where the other is. The witness to Jesus Christ does not necessarily need a complete Christology, in conformity to
the Church, but something vaster: it must always be in correspondence to one’s own life, and even if this is something unique, insignificant, it is still worthy!

These witnesses of faith exist in some spiritual communities. They are needed to be able to bring the Gospel to our days.

[00088-02.03] [IN060] [Original text: German]

– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Yves LE SAUX, Bishop of Le Mans (FRANCE)

It seems necessary to me to clarify the content of the expression “New Evangelization”. This is not a disavowal of the past, nor a reply to an identity crisis, nor a renewed victory. It is proclaiming the novelty of Salvation in Christ, God’s mercy, in a world undergoing deep changes that lives as if God didn’t exist, faced with a deep internal void. First, one must dare to speak to God, to awaken the nostalgia for God in the heart of man.

I will raise three concerns.

To awaken the missionary conscience of the baptized. Evangelization, the transmission of faith goes from person to person first of all. All the baptized are able to bear witness of the humble joy of knowing Christ to their close ones, neighbors, colleagues. Herein lies the true difficulty. Many are marked by a form of relativism, which we have not yet grasped fully. They diminish faith to a mere personal option.

The question of the “non-believing baptized”, addressed to the curates for the baptism of small children, or preparing for marriage. They ignore the meaning of their question. Sometimes, they say they are not practicing, non-believers, which brings despair to the priests. How to answer these questions? How to transform them into a path of the catechumenal type, inspired by the ritual of adult catechumens? The future of evangelization depends on the rediscovery and experiencing the sacrament of reconciliation, which is central to it. One should also work on the proper understanding of the initial sacraments (baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist), their unity.

We are no longer in Christendom. But we continue to organize ourselves as if we were still in one. We must no longer reflect in terms of covering territory, nor recruiting personnel, faced with the diminished number of priests. We must encourage living, joyful Christian communities, penetrated by a missionary impulse.
The true challenge is the announcement of the joy of Salvation, of merciful love for all. New spaces must be created where dialogue is possible with those that are distant from God.

[00089-02.02] [IN061] [Original text: French]

– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Ján BABJAK, S.I., Metropolitan Archbishop of Prešov of the Catholics of Byzantine Rite, President of the Council of the Slovak Church (SLOVAKIA)

“God is love, let us love him!” This motto of the blessed bishop and martyr Pavel Peter Gojdic OSBM, led the Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia during the Communist persecution. This actualization of the word of God expresses the experiences of our bishops, priests, religious and faithful, who experienced the love of God in their lives so powerfully that they were able to bear witness to their faith even in the difficult times of the forced closure of our church.

The heroic testimony of the faith of our ancestors, to the point of martyrdom, and their intercession in heaven have contributed to the fact that in the Greek Catholic Church of Slovakia we are able to thank God for the abundance of priestly vocations; in the service of 250 000 faithful we have more than 450 priests and approximately 90 seminarians in the seminary. We cannot accept any more in the seminary because we have no more places to send them to carry out their priestly service, and we cannot help in other churches outside of our country, given that most of them join their priestly life with married life and are thus precluded from Eastern lands.

It is important even today to place emphasis above all on the sanctity and zeal of priests, including, obviously, bishops. The faith grows wherever a zealous priest works, a man of a holy life, while it is extinguished wherever a lukewarm priest works. Bishops and priests must be men of new evangelization and this aspect of their lives must be developed from the beginning of their seminary formation.

In the Byzantine rite, the Byzantine spirituality, icons and the involvement of the people in liturgical life certainly help in evangelization (whether it be old or new). These elements of a spiritual culture remind us that even culture and art can open the heart of contemporary man to listen to the Gospel.

However, thus far we have not yet had enough courage to proclaim the Gospel outside of the Church, outside of centers of formation or pilgrimage.

The priority must lie in our zeal, the bishops, priests and persons consecrated to God, so that with our own example we might help the zeal of the laity. We ourselves need to listen to what God is saying to us, because “faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17) so that we might authentically proclaim the God’s love to the world.

[00090-02.03] [IN062] [Original text: Italian]

– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Bruno FORTEain , Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto (ITALY)

The Relatio underlines the anthropological, Christological and ecclesiological foundations of the new evangelization. It would be useful to develop the pneumatological dimension, also taking into consideration the affirmation of IL 41: the Spirit is the first agent of NE. It is He who renews the heart, as he sings a new song (“Novi novum canamus canticum”: Saint Augustine). Thanks to Him, novelty is not in the order of the new chronology (“neòs” in the Greek of the NT), but rather the one of eschatological, qualitative (“kainòs”) novelty. The “mandatum novum” is the “kainé entolé”. As the Holy Father recalled in commenting on the hymn of Terce: “Nunc, Sancte, nobis, Spiritus, unum Patri cum Filio, dignare promptus ingeri nostro refusus pectori”. The initiative is God’s, in the strength of the Spirit.
In the Relatio it seems to me that little emphasis is given to the fundamental role of the parish, to which the IL (IL 81) dedicates important reflections. Direct experience of the episcopal ministry, especially the blanket pastoral visits I have been conducting for three and a half years now in the parishes of the Archdiocese, has convinced me that without the new missionary zeal of the parish, in which the agents are its own pastoral workers, it will be difficult to live a radical new evangelization. In this light – while appreciating the gifts of the Spirit which are the new movements – I consider that Catholic Action is a valuable tool, clearly referred to in IL 117, which is completely in the spirit of lay cooperation of the mission of priests.

Finally, it appears to me necessary to underline the relevance of the young as the targets of the NE: if their drifting away from religious practice is considered by many as a fact to be taken for granted, this does not mean that their hearts do not thirst for God. Meeting them in large numbers in universities and schools has provided me with continual confirmation of this. It is necessary to respond to the so-called “educational emergency” referred to in IL 149. It is necessary to listen to them, give time to them, speak to them of God, and to welcome them with respect for their need for freedom. Here one understands how decisive the role of the family is (cf. IL 110ss), but also how dramatic the situation is for the offspring of divorced and remarried parents, who are often rendered strangers to the sacraments by the non-participation of their parents. Here a decisive turning point is needed in terms of pastoral care, as Pope Benedict XVI has affirmed several times (for example at the World Meeting of Families in Milan). It will also be necessary to initiate reflection on the methods and time necessary for the recognition of the nullity of the matrimonial bond: as a Bishop and moderator of a Regional Ecclesiastical Tribunal, I must admit that some requirements (such as the need for the c
onforming double sentence, even if there is no appeal) seem to many people with problems who wish to resolve their situation to be difficult to comprehend.

[00091-02.04] [IN063] [Original text: Italian]

– H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Tadeusz KONDRUSIEWICZ, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev (BELARUS)

In the search for new means of evangelization, the Church is turning its attention to the social communication media. Currently in Belorus we have two publishing houses, and three newspapers and seven magazines are published. The internet is increasingly used in Church activity. The website of the Episcopal Conference, www.catholic.by , offers informative, catechistic and cultural material in five languages. As we do not have our own radio and television channels, we use those of the state. The central state television channel broadcasts around three hours a month of Catholic programming. We are about to open the broadcasts of “Radio Maria”.

The potential of the media must be used in order to help man to find Christ and to live in His truth. They are called upon to light in everyone the fire of hope, in order to build a future of happiness, conserving the dignity of the human person. The Church, in order to evangelize, must be media-literate.
In the new areas of life created by information technologies, we are called upon to preach the word of God and to proclaim Christ, whom we have encountered and who has changed our life: herein lies the profound meaning of the new evangelization.

In our new secularized culture, the social communication media must be able to help the Church to be a true evangelizer and missionary, in line with the needs of our time, when it is necessary not only to baptize the converted, but also to convert the baptized.

[00092-02.04] [IN064] [Original text: Italian]
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