Fourteenth General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT 9, 2001 (VIS) - The Fourteenth General Congregation of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began at 5 p.m. in the presence of the Holy Father and 221 synod fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Bernard Agre, archbishop of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Following are extracts from several of this evening's speeches:

BISHOP FRANC KRAMBERGER OF MARIBOR, SLOVENIA. "Once, one spoke of the bishop as 'maiestas a longe' (distant authority), or of a 'distant bishop'; today, however, he is the 'bishop of nearness'. This means that the bishop must listen to the priests, inform them, ask for their advice and encourage them in a world, like today's, without values, liberalized and permissive. The Church in her totality must be more of a Church that listens and learns. The bishops as those responsible for the choices and guidance of the particular Church must listen to the priests, and also the laity, and learn from them. ... During the period of socialism and communism in many countries of Eastern Europe, there was a tendency requiring the separation of the bishops from the Pope, the priests from the bishop and the faithful from the priests. The purpose was the need to fragment the Church in order that no one could ever reconstruct it again. Nevertheless, this did not occur. The bishops played a decisive role. They were as one with the Pope, as one with the priests and one with the people of God, even at the cost of persecutions, of suffering through long years of imprisonment, at the cost of martyrdom and even death."

CARDINAL VARKEY VITHAYATHIL, C.SS.R., MAJOR ARCHBISHOP OF ERNAKULAM-ANGAMALY OF THE SYRO-MALABARS, INDIA. "The problem is not simply one of taking care of diaspora Catholic communities in a Catholic Church of a different rite, but a matter of how the Church understands herself. It is rather a question of the apostolic nature of the Church. Christ did not choose just one apostle, Peter, leaving it up to him to select his own team, but rather left little to chance and chose His vicar as well as His fellow apostles. ... Strange world! In the West they constantly bemoan the lack of vocations, adding that so much is jeopardized precisely because of this state of affairs; in the East the good of souls is in jeopardy because circumstances do not allow us to deploy our vast resources. If there is a sin against poverty in the Church, it is the unwillingness to pool resources; if there is a way of multiplication of the bread it is to address courageously a situation which calls for generosity and thinking on a large scale in the vineyard of the Lord. So I beg my fellow bishops to make this sacrifice and help God's work. But again, this amounts to pleading for a lost cause unless the Church's teaching on the Eastern Churches comes to be an integral part of the on-going formation of bishops. ... In this way, bishops will be sensitized to think that, by the very fact of being ordained bishops, they belong not only to a Latin or an Eastern Church, but to the Church universal. That will help us to be qualified agents of communion among all the Churches of the Catholic Church."

CARDINAL VINKO PULJIC, ARCHBISHOP OF VRHBOSNA, PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. "Overcoming the divisions existing in the Church and in today's world offers a special charge of hope to today's humanity. The Church must not remain divided and is called to being one, holy, Catholic and apostolic; she is called to communion and to remaining united on the local as well as the universal level, always with the Successor of Peter at her head. ... Europe can no longer be divided into Eastern and Western Europe. The world cannot remain divided between north and south, between rich and developed nations and poor and underdeveloped nations. The nations cannot continue to be divided into civil nations and nations considered uncivil. ... A great contribution to the commitment for overcoming the existing divisions could be given particularly through the means of social communication, which are capable of also being the privileged means for the proclamation of the Gospel. Those who work with these means and those who direct them have a great responsibility."

BISHOP PAULINUS COSTA OF RAJSHAHI, BANGLADESH. "I will speak in the name of the Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh on two issues: 1) The role of proclamation of the bishop. 2) The bishop, a man of prayer. ... 1. The proclamation. The bishop takes the place of the Apostles as pastor for the proclamation of the Gospel as a message of hope for a humanity torn by conflicts. His mission is to build the local Church 'as a communion of communities' around him, its shepherd. Against the odds of the secular world, his preaching of the Word and his example will animate the people to a rebirth of a living hope. The bishop is the first teacher of the faith. Most Catholics do not know their religion well. ... The laity have the right to know the teachings of the Fathers, Vatican II and the recent Popes on delicate matters of moral and family life and their role in the building up of the Church. ... 2. The bishop, a man of prayer. The bishop has been called to live in evangelical perfection before God and the people. ... He is the unifying point in all aspects of spirituality among his people with the brother bishops of his region."

ARCHBISHOP GEORGE PELL OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. "One duty of the bishop is to encourage the development of genuine Christian hope. One could say that there is considerable silence and some confusion on such Christian hope especially as it touches the last things, death and judgment, heaven and hell. Limbo seems to have disappeared, purgatory has slipped into limbo, hell is left unmentioned, except perhaps for terrorists and infamous criminals, while heaven is the final and universal human right; or perhaps just a consoling myth. ... Christian teaching on the resurrection of the body and the establishment of a new heavens and earth, the heavenly Jerusalem, are a vindication of the values of ordinary decent living, while the final judgment, the separation of the good from the evil, marks the establishment of universal justice not found in this life."

ARCHBISHOP LUCIANO PEDRO MENDES DE ALMEIDA, S.J., OF MARIANA, BRAZIL. "I would like to propose that the synod of bishops bring to all in its final message, as a real fruit of this assembly, an appeal that the Great Jubilee of Jesus Christ continue in the program of 'being Church in the new millennium'. There could be a period of time, for example two years, which can be extended throughout the dioceses of the whole world, of renewal of faithfulness and great love for the Church, appealing to the faithful who have drawn away and offering to all the message of salvation. ... I would also like to add the proposal of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference that the Synod of Bishops, in profound union with the Holy Father, summon in this difficult moment faithful Christians, believers, Jews, Muslims and people of good will to make a common prayer to God and offer work and sacrifices for peace and reconciliation among the nation and groups in conflict. The world is awaiting our word of hope to renew faith in God and to give sense to life, especially for the young."

ARCHBISHOP EDUARDO VICENTE MIRAS OF ROSARIO, ARGENTINA. "There should be greater collegiality in the Church-communion, with more emphasis on the episcopal conferences, the ecclesiastical provinces and the regional conferences or councils, since the bishop cannot be understood except in collegiality. ... We should highlight the discipleship of the bishop who offers his own charism to the particular Church, and is enriched in the latter with the help of the priests, the deacons and other faithful. ... Regarding the affirmation of Vatican Council II, in Gaudium et spes No. 2, according to which the 'world which the council has in mind is the world of women and men, the entire human family seen in its total environment', the bishop, as servant of the Gospel for the hope of the world, must deal with all these aspects, knowing and interpreting contemporary culture, proposing initiatives which contribute to the dignity of the human being and promoting the influence of the thought and the weight of Christian values."

Vatican Information Service
9. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 10.10.2001, sist endret 10.10.2001 - 15:07