Sixth General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT 4, 2001 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. this morning, Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of Italy, the Sixth General Congregation of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began in the presence of John Paul II. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. There were 238 synod fathers present at the meeting.

Before the discourses were presented, Cardinal Jan P. Schotte, C.I.C.M., secretary general of the synod, noted that this October 11th marks one month since the terrorist attacks in the United States. Cardinal Edward Michael Egan, archbishop of New York and relator general of the synod, will travel to New York to preside over a Eucharistic celebration at the city's Cathedral.

Since the "Relatio post disceptationem" is scheduled for October 12, the Holy Father, after consultation with the presidency of the Assembly, has nominated Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as adjunct relator general.

Following are excerpts from several of this morning's speeches:

CARDINAL EDUARDO MARTINEZ SOMALO, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE. "The Church needs consecrated life to be truly itself. ... One may well affirm that religious are members of a 'diocesan family'. ... It is also interesting to recall the significance of 'a true autonomy of life, especially of governance, recognized for each institute. This autonomy means that each institute has its own discipline in the Church and can preserve whole and entire the patrimony described in can. 578'. However, autonomy may not be invoked 'to justify choices which actually conflict with the demands of organic communion called for by a healthy ecclesial life. Instead, the pastoral initiatives of consecrated persons should be determined and carried out in cordial and open dialogue between bishops and superiors of the different Institutes. Special attention by bishops to the vocation and mission of Institutes, and respect by the latter for the ministry of bishops, with ready acceptance of their concrete pastoral directives for the life of the diocese, are two intimately linked expressions of that one ecclesial charity by which all work to build up the organic communion - charismatic and at the same time hierarchically structured - of the entire people of God'."

ARCHBISHOP COSMO FRANCESCO RUPPI OF LECCE, ITALY. "The bishop has the task of proclaiming the Gospel of hope to the poor, the ailing, refugees, prisoners, to all the oppressed and persecuted of the world. The bishop must be the prophet of justice, the apostle of charity, pointing out with courage the social sins tied to consumerism, hedonism, and market economy, which produce an unacceptable gap between luxury and misery, refuting the idea that profit should be the springboard of development. For this reason, the indications the Holy Father gave us in 'Sollecitudo Rei Socialis' and 'Centesimus Annus' must continuously be rediscovered and realized. As to the great themes of social justice, solidarity and socio-economic re-equilibrium, the Church is not and cannot remain neutral, just as it is not neutral on themes of peace, liberty, and dialogue. The men of today, believers and non-believers, leaders and followers, must know that the Church is prudent and patient, but not silent when the rights of life, of health, of survival, the fundamental rights recognized for each and every man are in play."

BISHOP LOUIS PELATRE, A.A., APOSTOLIC VICAR IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY. "I would like to call your attention on the fact that the episcopacy does not belong exclusively to the Roman Catholic Church. The decree on ecumenism of Vatican Council II is very clear on this subject. Speaking about the Eastern Christians, it says: 'by apostolic succession... they are still joined to us'. Because of this, they 'have the power to govern themselves according to their own disciplines'. If the Eastern discipline is legitimate with regard to the exercise of the episcopal ministry, notably the organization of collegiality, why not take into consideration this tradition recommended by such antiquity, resting often upon the first ecumenical Councils? To me, this is a source of admiring wonder, seeing that with poor means, through the vicissitudes of history from the apostolic times, to what extent the Eastern Churches have maintained intact up through today the repository of faith and the divine structure of the Church. Most of the time and during long periods, it was neither brilliant theologians, nor a humanly powerful and organized structure that ensured this unfailing continuity. Transmission was accomplished by humble shepherds and by an ecclesiastic hierarchy faithful to the teaching of the Apostles and of the Fathers of the Church. This should urge us to sweep away all fear and not place too much trust in the wisdom of the world."

FR. DAVID A FLEMING, S.M., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF MARY, UNION OF SUPERIORS GENERAL. "Since Vatican II, most religious institutes have tried to implement a participatory style of leadership that emphasizes closeness and fraternal communion among all members and accentuates listening, dialogue, subsidiarity, and accountability. This is a way of exercising genuine authority, but in a collegial mode. Before decisions of some importance are made, normally all whose lives will be affected by the decision are consulted. Councils, national and continental associations of members, and chapters, heighten our sense of communion. Perhaps our experience with such meetings could be helpful in rethinking the style of episcopal conferences and synods in the life of the Church. We find this style of leadership helpful in inculturation, leading to a decentralization in collaboration. It allows us to honor and prize varying local expressions, while maintaining the unity of the entire institute."

ARCHBISHOP ANGELO MASSAFRA, O.F.M., OF SHKODRE, ALBANIA, PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE. "In Albania the Church is a missionary Church, living in a multi-religious society that includes the four traditional faiths: Christian (Orthodox and Catholic), Islamic (the majority of the Albanians), Bektashi, and other faiths arriving in recent years. The bishop may be solely a missionary bishop: being among people and proclaiming the Word of God, a firm point of reference not only on the ecclesial but also on the civil level. ... The fall of the communist regime in 1991 was not only the collapse of a political, economic and social system, but also the collapse of values and a concept of life. The 'old' failed; the 'new' does not yet have exact outlines and sometimes has the sad face of intimidation, corruption, fast profit at any cost. ... In this social context the bishop has the duty to form consciences and communities, to heal existing divisions, to foster reciprocal trust and the sense of collaboration and the common good, starting with children and youth. Furthermore, the building of churches and chapels, which are a sign of the return of the Lord among the people after half a century of the communist regime which destroyed them, is a highly social and socializing sign. ... The Church in Albania serenely faces and undertakes ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Relationships with Muslims and Orthodox are based on respect, acceptance and collaboration in fundamental ideals, as we have done in these very difficult years due to the internal situation and the war in Kosovo. In Albania the religions play an irreplaceable role in social peace, and could be said to act as 'social buffers'."

BISHOP DONALD JAMES REECE OF SAINT JOHN'S-BASSETERRE, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA. "Not only should a sabbatical offer bishops refresher courses in the area of doctrine, but it should also expose them to those scientific and technological developments that either impinge on the nature and dignity of the human person, or affect the progress of peoples in their struggle for justice and peace in the world. Thus, bishops will be better able to evangelize more effectively with 'new methodology, new expressions and new fervor'. Connected with this proposal of continual updating is the need to revisit the notion of ministries in the Church, a development advanced by the Second Vatican Council. Expressions of this development are diocesan synods, diocesan and parish finance councils, and diocesan and parish pastoral councils. Might a further devolution of ministries give bishops more opportunity to concentrate on those things that are essentially associated with their three-fold task? One can cite the development of the diaconate as presented to us in the Acts of the Apostles. Philip, ordained to serve at tables, is seen evangelizing most effectively in Samaria and in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch. These modern times with their challenges call for 'new methodology, new expressions, and new fervor' if Christ is to be presented in a convincing manner to a world yearning for genuine hope."

BISHOP ANTHONY LEOPOLD RAYMOND PEIRIS OF KURUNEGALA, SRI LANKA. "From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II has been exhorting the bishops to launch programs of deep renewal at the level of the local churches, in the light of the Second Vatican Council. The objective of this renewal was in order that the Church be able to 'take up her evangelizing ministry with fresh enthusiasm'. ... This calls for a participatory church, in which the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to all the faithful are recognized and activated, and the members become men and women with a strong experience of God. This involves on our part, as bishops, an atmosphere of trust in the faith and initiative of the laity. The bishop must demonstrate in his own life the new spirit of communion, a leadership which is shepherding, not dominating. The small Christian communities are the training ground for participation in both the life and mission of the Church. We must be liberally open to the voice of the laity."

ARCHBISHOP ELIAS YANES ALVAREZ OF ZARAGOZA, SPAIN. "One of the primary tasks of the bishops is to promote the holiness of the laity and their apostolic activity. 'The apostolate of the laity is a sharing in the Church's saving mission. ... Every opportunity should therefore be given them to share zealously in the salvific mission of the Church'. Besides the individual apostolate in the service of all, which is irreplaceable, community is of particular importance, not only for anthropological and social reasons but for ecclesiological reasons. ... Among the various forms of lay community apostolate, associations and the Catholic Action movement, especially recommended by the Council of Bishops, have had a special place in the appreciation of the Church. This form of social apostolate with the four notes made by the Council is still necessary, even if under different names."

At the conclusion of this morning's General Congregation, John Paul II addressed the following words to the synod fathers:

"This morning I received in audience George Bush, former President of the United States of America, father of the current President. I wished to assure him that our Assembly profoundly feels this tragedy, which has shaken all of humanity. October 11th will be for all of us a day of prayer. We also will pray from here for the victims and for peace in the world."

Vatican Information Service
4. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 04.10.2001, sist endret 04.10.2001 - 16:05