Eleventh General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2001 (VIS) - The Eleventh General Chapter of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began at 9 a.m. in the presence of the Holy Father and 231 synod fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Following are excerpts from several of the speeches given this morning:

CARDINAL CRESCENZIO SEPE, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF PEOPLES. "The 'mission' of the bishop, specifically today, is not one of many duties, but rather the priority is pastoral action. ... Conscious of the missionary nature of their own pastoral ministry, the bishops need to act in such a way that the missionary spirit vivifies all the ecclesiastical activity of their dioceses in an effective missionary way, especially with the invitation in certain missions of their priests, fidei donum duly prepared spiritually and intellectually. The Moto Proprio 'Ecclesiae Sanctae', furthermore, reaffirms the inter-ecclesial collaboration from an economic point of view as well, to be considered not just as a charitable act, but as a duty to be carried out for the neediest dioceses."

CARDINAL GODFRIED DANNEELS, ARCHBISHOP OF MECHELEN-BRUSSELS, PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, BELGIUM. "At a time when so many moral and religious certainties are shaken, we need a strong Pope as well as a strong episcopal college. We have nothing to gain from the promotion of one to the detriment of another. The bishop is a member of the episcopal college, a college cum Petro et sub Petro. This implies the grace and duty of collegiality. The most important instrument of this collegiality is the synod of bishops. Its functioning is certainly to be improved: everything is to be made more perfect. The concrete 'iter' of this reform is no doubt to be entrusted to the Council of the elected secretariat at the end of the synod or to the ad hoc group. However, any reforms must let all bishops have the possibility to speak freely and be sheltered from external pressures, to develop all the issues which they deem important for the good of the Church. Even if ordinary synods remain precious instruments of affective collegiality, effective collegiality would be no doubt better served by convening more frequently - with a more restricted number of participants - more targeted synods consecrated to one or more particular themes. These types of special synods have already been envisaged. ... The bishop is responsible for proclaiming the truth. He also has to make pass it on and communicate it. ... In this sense and taking into account almost unavoidable distortions practiced voluntarily or not by the large media, the Roman dicasteries could communicate their texts earlier, especially at the episcopal conferences who live in 'volcanic territory' where media eruptions are frequent and where the anti-authoritarian allergies take from time to time an epidemic trend."

ARCHBISHOP JULIAN HERRANZ, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LEGISLATIVE TEXTS. "I would like to refer to an aspect of justice in ecclesial society, concretely, to the duty of the bishops to guarantee and to promote the rights of the lay faithful in the life and mission of the Church. ... 'The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the Word of God and the sacraments'(can. 213). Many faithful, however, express complaint in this regard: they are unable often or always unable to find confessors, even though priests are not lacking in the parish; they note that the Sunday Eucharistic celebration - center of the community of the faithful - is not properly taken care of - contrary to the canonical norms concerning public worship - the churches are always closed on weekdays, and they cannot receive Communion of pray before the Blessed Sacrament, etc. ... 'The Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the rights which they enjoy in the Church before a competent ecclesiastical court in accord with the norm of law'(can. 221, para.1)."

ARCHBISHOP HENRYK MUSZYNSKI OF GNIEZNO, POLAND. "The various episcopal conferences, following the example of the synod of bishops, must seek to resolve the most important pastoral and moral problems in communion among themselves. The communal witness of the Churches, exercised in the spirit of collegial unity and ecclesial communion, is a concrete and credible sign of the Gospel of hope. An example of the concrete realization of the Gospel of hope is the joint pastoral letter of the episcopal conferences of Poland and Germany, published in 1995, for the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The principle of subsidiarity can help many on a practical level as a social concept, but cannot define the relation between collegiality and the hierarchical structure of the Church because both are of divine institution. Speaking of the Church one most adopt instead the theological principle of auxiliarity, in which each member carries out a function entrusted directly by God Himself: God has fashioned the members of the body in the distinct way which He has desired, in order to form one single body which is the Church."

CARDINAL DARIO CASTRILLON HOYOS, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR CLERGY. "Perhaps the aspect which requires the most sacrifice from the bishop is, in governing, the exercise of the 'potestas iurisdictionis' to preserve evangelical coherence and order. It is not easy to unite prudence to timeliness, strength to meekness, justice, the defence of the individual and common good, to mercy. The bishop dominated by fear will be neither a man of the Gospel nor a man of hope. Fearful in the face of public opinion, he will not preserve the faith with the appropriate correction. ... Perhaps we could present to the Holy Father, among other respectful propositions, one which permits the request, in the choice of candidates to the episcopate, those gifts which assure the Church, placed in confrontation with secularism, practical apostasy and the degradation of customs, bishops who guide them with courage, part of the spiritual make-up of Ignatius, Iraneaus, Athanasius, Eusebius of Vercelli, Borromeo, Faulhaber, and those who, beyond the iron curtain defended and maintained the faith."

BISHOP JAVIER ECHEVARRIA RODRIGUEZ, PRELATE OF THE PERSONAL PRELATURE OF OPUS DEI, ITALY. "The Instrumentum Laboris refers to the relation between bishops when they are present in a territory of various 'sui iuris' Churches or a personal prelature or a military ordinariate. Their relations with these local Churches must necessarily express the unity of the Church, which is a 'unity of communion'. Personal prelatures are a part of this context of communio and cannot be considered as 'alternative' structures to the particular Churches although at their service, insofar as they carry out the particular pastoral works for which they exist, which per se converge harmoniously with the ordinary pastoral work of the local Churches in which they are present and are therefore directed to the building up of the one and same Church of Christ. Such convergence is a reality intrinsic to the ecclesiological nature of these institutions, also because the faithful of a personal prelature - such as those of a military ordinariate - are at the same time the faithful of the local Church in which they live. The complexity of the contemporary world generates many situations of a trans-regional character, which require particular pastoral responses. When such situations present fitting characteristics, an episcopal conference could propose to the Holy See, in conformity with the hopes of Vatican Council II, the erection of a personal prelature on a national level with the goal of integrating the pastoral action of the dioceses concerned, as also noted in the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in America'."

CARDINAL DIONIGI TETTAMANZI, ARCHBISHOP OF GENOA, ITALY. "In the context of a culture inebriated by current and earthly values, the bishops are called to question the place which the truth/reality of eternal life has in their ministry, with the knowledge that it is not something secondary or optional, but essential and irrefutable, because it touches all of the constitutive and specific elements of the faith and the Christian experiences. In their ministry of teaching, the bishops are called to urge priests to announce eternal life, using in a delicate and courageous way the event of death and the pastoral occasion of Christian funerals. They are called, furthermore, in their ministry of sanctification to ensure a celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments which emphasizes the value of awaiting and anticipating eternal life, restoring in this way as well the sense of the sacred and of mystery. ... It is necessary, however, to remember that true Christian hope does not dissuade us from our responsibilities in the face of the countless miseries and injustices of history."

ARCHBISHOP SEAN B. BRADY OF ARMAGH, IRELAND. "One of the great signs of hope today is the hunger for God and the desire for prayer which so many people experience. ... The willingness of the Church to promote justice and peace is a tremendous sign of hope, especially for the poor and oppressed. The consistent and courageous defence of the dignity of every human person irrespective of health or wealth, race or religion, is an example of how the Bishop offer reasons for hope. When the Bishop clearly sets forth the teaching of the Church in favor of life in opposition to the culture of death, in favor of marriage and of the family, in favor of peace as opposed to violence, he becomes a beacon of hope to those who suffer in the darkness of despair and discouragement."

At the interval of this congregation, Cardinal Jan P. Schotte, secretary general of the Synod, communicated the following:

"Bishop Anthony Theodore Lobo of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan, has had to leave our Assembly due to the situation of recent events which occurred in his dioceses in order to be close to his faithful. He takes with him the blessing of the Holy Father for the local Church in Pakistan and for the whole of that region. Our prayers and fraternal concern also accompany him in pastoral charity and collegial affection."

Vatican Information Service
8. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 08.10.2001, sist endret 08.10.2001 - 16:04