Religious Illiteracy Seen as a Key Challenge for Bishops

Episcopal Office Is Foremost at Service of Gospel, Not Society, Says Cardinal

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2001 ( Transmitting the faith in a religiously illiterate culture is the challenge facing the Synod of Bishops, says the assembly's secretary-general.

Belgian Cardinal Jan Schotte told reporters Saturday, "The assembly's question will be, What kind of bishop does the Church need in the third millennium?"

"The role of the bishop must be seen in relation to Jesus Christ," he said. "To be his servant does not mean to be at the service of society, but at the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in this way, by definition, the bishop becomes an evangelizer - all this for the hope of the world."

To illustrate this message, Cardinal Schotte mentioned the case of Cardinal Edward Michael Egan, archbishop of New York, who, 10 minutes after the Sept. 11 attacks on the Twin Towers, went to the scene of the tragedy to administer the sacraments and be with the people.

Cardinal Schotte emphasized that it is important that in the synod, which opened today, every bishop "express himself and speak about the work of his diocese." He said that 213 of the 247 bishops present head dioceses.

According to the Belgian cardinal, the answers to a pre-synod questionnaire sent by the assembly's secretariat reveal "the importance for the bishop of the spiritual journey and formation." The questionnaire was sent to dioceses, episcopal conferences and religious congregations.

"The bishops' primary concern is to see how it is possible to transmit the faith in today's culture, and how it is possible to overcome the religious illiteracy of the members of the Church," Cardinal Schotte added.

He explained that special attention is being given to the regulation of the sessions, so that all bishops have the same opportunity to speak. All will have eight minutes to express their point of view, he said.

"All the bishops are equal; the procedure does not leave room for 'prime donne,' to use an expression borrowed from the opera," the cardinal confirmed.

He noted that the synod, which opened today and runs until Oct. 27, concludes the cycle of assemblies on ministries and states of life in the Church. Previous assemblies focused on the family (1980), the laity (1987), priests (1990) and consecrated life (1994).

Zenit - The World Seen From Rome
30. september 2001

av Webmaster publisert 02.10.2001, sist endret 02.10.2001 - 18:36