Fifteenth General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT 11, 2001 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today, in the presence of the Holy Father and 233 synod fathers, the Fifteenth General Congregation of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India.

At the beginning of the Fifteenth General Congregation, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte, C.I.C.M., announced that the Holy Father has decided to promulgate the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Oceania" in the Vatican, during a private audience to take place on Thursday, November 22, the 4th anniversary of the opening of the Special Assembly for Oceania.

Following are excerpts from the speeches of several auditors and synod fathers:

ZBIGNIEW NOSOWSKI, DIRECTOR OF "WIEZ" MAGAZINE, POLAND. "We all know very well how difficult it is to proclaim the Church's teaching on marriage and family in the contemporary world. ... Therefore ... I have been wondering why Christian families have not been given by our Church any example of a married couple that was officially recognized - as a couple - to be blessed or saintly. However, very soon - during this Synod - we will be able to participate in the first such a beatification. Maria and Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi will be the first couple in the 2000 years long history of our Church to be beatified together. ... The beatification will symbolically take place in the first year of the new century and millennium. I hope that this is only a beginning. Therefore I ask all the synodal fathers that they engage their diocesan structures in the beatification processes of married couples with at least equal zeal to their engagement in the cases of priests."

FR. ARNAUD DEVILLERS, F.S.S.P., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE FRATERNITY OF THE PRIESTS OF ST. PETER, U.S.A. "For the last twelve years, I, and my fellow-priests, have ministered to a certain category of faithful. These faithful are of various ethnic origins, both rich and poor, old and young, educated or not, practicing or not, in full communion with their bishop or not, cradle Catholics or converts, but they do have one point in common, they insist, in order to practice their faith, in going or wishing to go, to a Latin Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. ... In July 1988, in response to a break in the Church, the Sovereign Pontiff gave Motu Proprio an Apostolic letter 'Ecclesia Dei Adflicta' in which he declared that this "attachment to previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition" constituted some "rightful aspirations" and asked "for the support of the bishops and all those engaged in the pastoral ministry". ... Wherever the local bishop supports and encourages this work, the results are truly amazing. ... For this ministry to be successful, make sure (the faithful) feel they are welcome and that you are also their father, make sure you appoint a priest who will have the empathy, time and patience to be their pastor and who will work in full communion with you and your presbyterate, and then you will see amazing effects of grace."

BISHOP JOSEPH THEODORUS SUWATAN, M.S.C., OF MANADO, INDONESIA. "I would like to offer my reflections on a matter which, in my opinion, has not yet received sufficient attention. That is the question of the manner of our being Church in the World, and thus also of our being bishops of this Church for the hope of this world. When the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes was promulgated in 1965 ... I still remember the enthusiasm which this inspiring product of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council aroused in us. The document presented a refreshing image of the Church as a community of the followers of Christ, who experience themselves as being part of and in solidarity with all mankind in their joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties, a Church that does not remain aloof, but is really incarnated in the midst of the community of mankind. As followers of Christ, we must be a Church that is fully and intimately linked with mankind and its history. Nothing genuinely human is foreign to the Church."

BISHOP FRANKLYN NUBUASAH, S.V.D., APOSTOLIC VICAR OF FRANCISTOWN, BOTSWANA. "In Botswana, HIV/Aids has so devastated our people that they often seem to be like people without hope. One third of our population is infected by the deadly virus and all of us are affected by it. How can one have hope when one sees many young people dying? What can you say to people in such a desolate and inconsolable state? We see the example of the suffering Christ in these people. Has the Father abandoned them? No by no means. ... The bishop is called upon to bring hope to the people by his presence. ... The bishop should also have healing services for his people to reassure them of the Father's love and administer the sacrament of the sick to them. The bishop can be the first minister to the sick. The bishop should establish a sort of ministry to health care providers. They need encouragement and hope. ... Some people have committed suicide when they have learned that they are HIV positive. They lost hope and meaning in life. ... In this context, the Bishop is seen as the promoter of hope in a hopeless situation. ... As a man of faith, I know that even the wildest fire burns itself out and so will this pandemic. ... In the face of the dreadful scourge of the HIV/Aids in our country, people are looking to the bishops to provide leadership in breaking down the taboos that prevent correct education in sexual matters, and provide care for the sick and help prevent new infections by encouraging behavior change. This is where the message of faithfulness to the Christian message can bring hope to the people."

ARCHBISHOP ROBERTO OCTAVIO GONZALEZ NIEVES, O.F.M., OF SAN JUAN DE PUERTO RICO, PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, PUERTO RICO. "I agree with what Cardinal Ratzinger said: we need more Spirit and less organization. My proposal is simply to create structures of economic solidarity to help the poor dioceses of the world to invest the resources and charitable gifts which they receive from other dioceses in such a way that the poor dioceses may survive globalization. ... On the other hand, my proposal is not limited to concrete economic help, but is intended to add the necessary expertise to ensure the economic solidity of these funds and to survive the pace, often devastating for the poor, of today's global economy. At present I cannot be more explicit. I think that we could at least request that a study be made on this subject, consulting the national and regional episcopal conferences which have facilities respond to this concern in one way or another."

BISHOP JERONIMO TOMAS ABREU HERRERA OF MAO-MONTE CRISTI, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. "Without taking away the importance of the many and various ministries that the Instrumentum Laboris attributes to the mission of the bishop in the historic moment which the Church and humanity are living, we have considered it opportune to clearly underline that service to the poor, in many aspects, must constitute one of the greatest concerns for the priests, especially in many countries and continents where extreme poverty has spread, and the social equality and dignity and inalienable rights of human persons are not recognized. We believe that in this way we can faithfully follow the teachings and the examples of the Divine Teacher and the numerous references of the Magisterium of the Church, especially in the current pontificate of Pope John Paul II. ... The Instrumentum Laboris explains this in different passages, adding to what is said in no. 145 of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which 'far from being an addition to the Christian message, is an essential part of it, because it teaches the direct implications of the Gospel on life and society'."

BISHOP EDMOND JITANGAR OF SARH, CHAD. "Of the many challenges facing our Church and our shepherds, two must have our special attention: 1. The identity of our Church. Chad is an error made by colonial history because it was created from a lot of pieces, which in part explains today's drama. Facing Islam (51% of the nation), our Church is called to say what she is and, by giving herself an identity, manifests her capability to draw from the Gospel of Jesus Christ the energies needed to face the situation of underdevelopment which we find ourselves in. ... 2. The responsibility of our Church-family. ... Number 74 of the Instrumentum Laboris suggests that relations of mutual aid be established between the large and the smaller dioceses... The pessimistic considerations and the unfavorable judgments on Africa that prevail in international relations may negatively influence the way these relations of aid will be carried out. The ecclesiology of communion and unity in the mission may be erroneous ... unless conversion occurs in this regard on both sides. Two wishes: 1. To better develop the places for the expression of episcopal communion. 2. That the elder churches may offer 'technical, multiform, and planned support' to the younger churches to help them put into place the structures necessary for a good management of their pastoral and human promotion programs."

Vatican Information Service
11. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 11.10.2001, sist endret 11.10.2001 - 15:23