Sixteenth General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2001 (VIS) - The Pope presided over a solemn ceremony of prayer this morning in the Synod Hall, at the start of the 16th General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops, for the victims of last month's terrorist attack in the United States. After a prayer by the Holy Father, a synod father and fraternal delegate pronounced a brief homily. Afterwards, intentions were read in various languages.

"One month after the inhuman terrorist attacks in different parts of the United States of America, let us entrust once more," said John Paul II, "the countless innocent victims to the eternal mercy of the God of our fathers. We ask for consolation and comfort for their families and relatives, overcome with grief; we invoke strength and courage for those who continue rendering help in the places affected by the terrible disaster; we implore tenacity and perseverance for all men of good will in pursuing the ways of justice and peace. May the Lord eradicate from the heart of man every trace of resentment, enmity and hatred, and make him open to reconciliation, solidarity and peace. We pray that a 'civilization of love' may be established throughout the world."

There were 237 synod fathers present at this Congregation. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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

METROPOLITAN AMBROSIUS OF OULU, FINLAND, FRATERNAL DELEGATE OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF FINLAND. "It is a privilege to be here as a fraternal delegate, representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos of Constantinople. This synod is of vital importance for the mission and witness of the Church in the 21st century. ... The official dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church has a history of over twenty years. One of its most important achievements so far has been the joint statement on 'The Sacrament of Order in the Sacramental Structure of the Church'. ... From the time of the undivided Church we equally in the East and the West, Orthodox and Catholics alike, have fully understood that episcopacy belongs to the inherent nature of the Church. ... As an Orthodox bishop I neither dare nor wish to touch the question of the relationship between primacy and collegiality, which has been raised here by several of you. But what I may be allowed to do, is to express my fraternal solidarity to you. In spite of the regular work of local and regional episcopal synods we in our Orthodox context today face many difficult and unsolved problems concerning inter-Orthodox cooperation. Already in the 1960's, the Orthodox Churches started the preparations for the convening of a Great and Holy Synod, but until now rather little has been achieved."

BISHOP PETER FORSTER OF CHESTER, GREAT BRITAIN, FRATERNAL DELEGATE OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION. "Considerable recent work has been done in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion on the place and work of the bishop in the life of the Church. ... Apart from such issues as compulsory celibacy and the potential eligibility of women to the episcopal office, remaining differences are in two areas. The first concerns the relationship between the personal, collegial and communal dimensions of the ministry of the bishop. Anglicans maintain a model of bishop-in-synod, in which the personal ministry of the bishop is inseparable from his leadership in the College of Priests in his diocese. ... The second concerns the exercise of authority by the universal Primate. Anglicans have come to accept the wisdom and need of a universal primacy, exercised by the Bishop of Rome. ... Agreement remains to be reached over the precise rights and responsibilities to be attached to a renewed and fully ecumenical Primacy. Although much remains to be done, Anglicans have a deep gratitude for the pastoral priority attached by Pope John Paul II to the ecumenical task."

CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE ANGELO SODANO, VATICAN CITY STATE. "Each of us, through episcopal ordination, has become a part, first of all, of the College of Bishops and has, therefore, the duty to feel himself a member of this body, wherever he is called to work. ... To all of the brothers in the episcopate I would like to say that the 25 bishops who are the heads of the respective dicasteries of the Roman Curia, are constantly committed to inspiring this spirit of fraternal collaboration with all the bishops of the entire world, following the directives which the Holy Father has given us in the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, of June 28, 1988, with the very significant title: 'Pastor Bonus'. ... To the brothers who work in the dioceses, I permit myself to ask them not to ask impossible things of us, who work in the Curia. We are all limited. ... I would like, finally, to assure you that this is also the spirit with which the bishops work who are sent by the Pope as his nuncios and apostolic delegates in the various nations. Today they are more than one hundred, and some of them serve in very difficult situations. ... And here I would like to honor the mourned Apostolic Nuncio in Papua New Guinea, Archbishop Hans Schwemmer, of the diocese of Regensburg, Germany, who died in service in recent days, as well as honor all those who, with great sacrifice, are working in the most difficult and distant places."

BISHOP ERKOLANO LODU TOMBE OF YEI, SUDAN. "Conflict and persecution: The conflict and persecution in Sudan are a direct result of a systematic campaign of 'Islamization' and 'Arabization' of non-Arabs and non-Muslims who hold political and economic power in Sudan. Religious Persecution: Religious persecution is the systematic denial of basic religious freedom. A program of 'Islamization' continues to characterize the approach of the fundamentalist regime of Khartoum towards the Christians and those Muslims who do not profess that particular version of fundamentalist Islam."

BISHOP OSWALD THOMAS COLMAN GOMIS OF ANURADHAPURA, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES, SRI LANKA. "My reference is to the Biblical image of the washing of the feet, to the mystery of uniting the bishop and his people, and to a Church with a human face. All this calls for a new style of leadership. ... It is a leadership that makes leaders of others. Leadership is a ministry at the service of the community. A participatory Church calls for a participatory exercise of the bishop's leadership to build co-responsibility. A participatory Church does not simply have "helpers" but has "responsible co-workers" for the mission. They are to be made to feel co-responsible for the Church's mission. This participatory Church leadership is exercised by the bishop by 1) Offering a vision to the people; 2 ) Creating a culture for empowering; and 3) Re-adjusting the structures to allow participation. Vision gives the people a sense of direction in all the pastoral plans. To create a culture of empowerment, people must be made to feel that they are trusted and are being encouraged to participate by giving their suggestions, listen to others and work together for the decisions made. The readjustment of structures implies that people are made to work as teams - all participate in decision-making. ... The ... point I wish to make is the need to have clearer guidelines to promote a better relationship between the individual bishop and the respective bishops' conference. Therefore we make a plea to this synod to enunciate concrete guidelines for the relationship of all dioceses vis-a-vis the bishops' conference, in the light of Vatican II."

CARDINAL IGNACE MOUSSA I DAOUD, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE ORIENTAL CHURCHES. "The Synod of Bishops of the Eastern Patriarchates, with extended jurisdictions, is understood as a way of practicing the collegiality of the bishops, sanctioned from the first ecumenical councils ... and enriched by the long and multiform experiences of the Eastern Churches. ... The Eastern Catholic Churches, in particular those in the Near East, today face a tragedy: emigration of their faithful, and risk facing it more in the future. Certain Churches count more faithful in the diaspora than in the traditional territories! This is a great loss for our Churches and for the Christian presence in this part of the world. But this once again means that the Eastern Catholic Churches must be capable of effectively organizing a proper and apt pastoral ministry for their faithful living the situation of the diaspora, evidently in deep communion and real agreement with the local bishops of other 'sui iuris' Churches. ... The election of the bishop in the Eastern tradition is not the fact or the work of an organ that prepares, studies, and proposes names, but the work of a solidary and responsible college which elects, creates, and makes the bishop. From this we can draw that we should entrust the canonical research made by the Patriarch and the bishops of the Synod and come back to the ancient and traditional practice on the matter, for the patriarchal as well as the non-patriarchal territories: in other words that the name of the bishop elected by the Synod may be published immediately and that the elected bishop then ask the Pope to accord ecclesial communion to him."

This afternoon, at the end of the 16th General Congregation, the Pope and the synod fathers will pray the Rosary for peace in the world.

Vatican Information Service
11. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 11.10.2001, sist endret 11.10.2001 - 15:24