Slutterklæring fra Bispesynoden for Amerika 1997

Message of Special Assembly for America

VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 1997 (VIS) - Below we give excerpts from the Message of the Special Assembly for America, made public this morning in the four languages of the Synod: English, French, Portuguese and Castillian:


Called from all the nations of America to gather with the Successor of Peter for this Special Synod, we are grateful to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for this opportunity of prayer, study and reflection. For indeed we have prayed together and listened to the stories of the wonders and the needs of the Church in this New World.

We believe that we are one community; and, although America comprises many nations, cultures, and languages, there is so much that links us together and so many ways in which each of us affects the lives of our neighbors. This historic gathering of the Church in America at the Holy Father's invitation has impelled us to seek the answers to the problems and concerns of our lands, not in the service of one part of America or even the needs of another, but in calling forth the resources of both and becoming more conscious of the needs of each. This has been done over the weeks of the Synod, as we listened to the concerns and the hopes of our neighbors from all these lands.

The Joys of the Church in America

First we greet you, our brothers and sisters in faith, those millions of Catholic men and women throughout America whose faithful practice of the Christian life, whose devotion to the Lord, to His Blessed Mother, and to His Church are for us both an inspiration and a challenge to greater service.

We greet you, the families of America, the foundation of our society, proud and gratified by your Christian commitment to the defense of life from the moment of conception until natural death.

We greet you, the laity of the Church, whose generous use of your diverse gifts builds up the Body of Christ in the world. We are very conscious of those of you, especially the elderly and the sick, who devote yourselves in a special way to prayer.

We send special greetings to you, the women of our continent, conscious of the extraordinary role you have already played in our history and in the handing on of the faith.

With special love and care we greet you, the children. We pray that your days of childhood may be spent with those who love you and who shield you from the dangers of our society, so that you can grow in wisdom, grace and strength before God and your neighbors.

We greet you, the youth of our local Churches. We need you. We are proud of your idealism and your desire to make the world a better place. You are a vital part of the Church of today. Your own special love of the Holy Father is a grace in which we all rejoice.

We greet you, our brother bishops, who with such dedication watch over the People of God; the priests who are our devoted brothers and fellow workers, and who share with us the pastoral ministry for the care of souls; the permanent deacons whose coming to pastoral service in our lands has been so great a gift; the consecrated men and women whose grace-filled lives make such a difference in the work of the Church ... .

We greet you, our seminarians, with affection and encouragement, assuring you of our fervent prayers in your journey to the Altar of Christ, and we greet with equal gratitude you, the growing number of men and women who, with such sacrifice and devotion, serve the Church in education, catechesis, charity, social ministry, the promotion of justice and peace, and other apostolates.

The Concerns of the Church in America

During these days we have heard and taken to heart the sufferings of the Church in America. We have heard the concerns of you, the families both in the North and in the South. We are conscious of the burdens borne by poor families everywhere who find opportunities to improve their lives denied them, and conscious, too, of the stresses which modern life brings even to families of means, stresses which hamper the best attempts to live the Christian life. We recognize that the great ideal of the home as a "domestic Church" where children are raised by both father and mother is often unrealized. We grieve over the brokenness of so many families in all classes, and we offer to you our prayers. To you single parents who, with trust in God, bravely assume the responsibility of raising children in the Christian life without the companionship and support of a spouse, we extend the encouragement of the family of faith.

We reach out to you the young men and women who search for God in today's world, to you the young among the poor who are deprived of opportunity to earn a living and begin a family, to you the youth whose idealism has been so diminished by an excessive consumerism, and to all you young people who long for a sense of God's loving presence in your lives.

We turn with heavy hearts to the bitter hardships borne by you, the children of the streets. What you, the children of God, suffer, should happen to no one. ... We call on people of good will to help rescue you from these dangers, so you may enjoy a secure and normal life and discover the presence of God's love.

To you, immigrants who find yourselves unwelcome in the lands where you have moved, we send words of encouragement. The Church has walked alongside generations of migrants in the march for a better life, and she will not cease to stand by you with every kind of service.

To you minorities who are victims of prejudice, we sympathize with the frustration you suffer on account of discrimination, the pain imposed on you by the hostility of others, and the abuse often inflicted on you by social institutions. You are created in God's image and share equally in the dignity of the human person.

We call to mind you, the aboriginal and indigenous peoples of America, who have suffered so much these past five centuries at the hands of the greedy and violent, and who even today enjoy so little of the abundance our lands have produced.

We want to speak to you, our brothers and sisters of African heritage, whose ancestors came to America in bondage as slaves. The wounds of those terrible centuries of slavery still sting the soul. We pledge ourselves to continue to work with you so that you may enjoy your full dignity as children of God, and so that you may always feel welcome in our churches and communities of faith.

We reach out as well to you who live alone and all who feel lonely, particularly the elderly, the home-bound, the sick, and the forsaken. The Church is your home, and we in the Church are your brothers and sisters.

Indeed, of all the concerns of God's people that have resounded in the hall of this Special Synod for America, the cry of the poor has been heard with a special attention. Not a single episcopal conference in America has failed to speak clearly and with deep emotion about the quest for justice for our brothers and sisters whose lives and human dignity are challenged by poverty and want.

In the North, we look with dismay and alarm as the gap widens year by year between those who have an abundance and those who have only the barest of resources. Where material benefits are so widespread, many among us face the temptation of the Rich Man in the Gospel to become indifferent to the needs of those at our own doorstep.

In the South, there are regions which suffer conditions of such utter human misery that they cannot be reconciled with the dignity which God has bestowed equally on each of His children. In every part of America, there is need to protect innocent unborn children from the scourge of abortion. Even where wretchedness has not reached so great a depth, there are still to be found the sufferings of children who go to bed hungry, of mothers and fathers without work or sustenance, of indigenous peoples whose homelands and livelihoods are threatened, of thousands without jobs or shelter because of changing and volatile market conditions. To these woes must be added those caused by abuses in the globalization of the world's culture and economy, those caused by the drug traffic, the diversion of scarce resources into the arms trade, and political and business corruption which deprives people of the share of material goods intended for or earned by them and to which they have a right.

The burden of external and internal debt, which for many countries has been something from which there seems to be no prospect of relief, has been a considerable concern during the Synod. ... We join the Holy Father in his appeal for the reduction or forgiveness of debts in an effort to give relief to the people of some of the world's poorest nations. Relief from debt will only begin to lift the burdens of the poor.

We call on the leaders of government and of industry and finance, on those who are rich in material possessions, on economists, on social workers, on theologians and experts in the Church_s social teaching, and all people of good will to walk together with us and the poor and to search with them for a way that respects their human dignity. We are grateful to God for the assistance we receive from many sources. ... Before us, as always, are the two paths: the wide and easy one of acquiescing in the way things are, and the way that is long and hard that leads to justice. We must choose the hard path.

The Challenges of the Church in America

We call on you the faithful to take up the call of the Lord to be the evangelists of the new millennium, sharing your faith openly and courageously. We invite you to witness to your faith by your lives of holiness, by your kindness to all, your charity toward those in need, and your solidarity with all the oppressed.

We will need to foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. In preparation for the Great Jubilee, all Christians must discover how best to fulfill their call to holiness.

In addition, the missionary efforts of the Church must be fostered. ... The New Evangelization envisages a continued exchange of gifts with many ways of collaboration between our local Churches in the common work of sharing the Gospel. Priests and other missionaries from the North continue to be needed in the South and elsewhere. At the same time, the Church in the South has intensified its efforts to send missionaries to the North and to other lands.

The media of social communications play an increasingly influential role in the life of society and the Church. ... The Church needs to continue the development of her own use of these means in service of the Gospel. Her dedicated corps of professionals in communications can serve as the leaven which influences those in a field of endeavor often unmindful of religious values to reconsider their values for the sake of society.

For the most part, we in America enjoy the blessings of religious liberty. Still, as the Church lives out the Gospel, in proclaiming the Kingdom of God, in advocating justice for the poor, and in defending human life and dignity, she faces many obstacles. In some places, despite legal protection of the Church, bishops, priests, deacons, delegates of the Word, consecrated and lay people are penalized and slandered, intimidated and even slain for their Gospel defense of the poor. In still other places, a new, aggressive secularism would deny a voice to people of faith in the public arena and demean the enormous contribution of the Church to public life. Accordingly, we appeal to the faithful in public life and to people of good will who have influence on public opinion to stand with us in defense of the Gospel of Life against abortion and euthanasia.

Jesus Christ Our Hope

This then is our simple message: Jesus Christ is Lord! His resurrection fills us with hope; His presence on our journey fills us with courage. We say to you, as the Holy Father tells us all so often: Do not be afraid. The Lord is with you on the way, go forth to meet Him.

We shall accept the call to conversion, to a change of life, to a new beginning in grace. ... This conversion will touch the lives of the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak. It will remind the politicians of their responsibility to foster the common good; and it will challenge the economists to find a way to solve the material inequalities of our societies.

If we come with courage to this personal encounter with Jesus Christ, we shall find there an irresistible call to communion.

Ultimately, the personal encounter with Jesus Christ leads to solidarity, which is a requirement of charity, as it must be practiced in human relationships today.

Perhaps we can summarize our message in the words of the Holy Father: Do not be afraid to cross the threshold of hope. There we shall all meet the Lord, the living Jesus Christ, who is our hope and our salvation.

SE/MESSAGE/...                                              VIS 971211 (2280)
av Webmaster publisert 11.12.1997, sist endret 11.12.1997 - 15:49