Seventeenth General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT 11, 2001 (VIS) - The 17th General Congregation of the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops convened at 5 p.m. today for the conclusion of the spoken interventions. Joining the Holy Father were 219 synod fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.

Following are excerpts from several of the speeches:

ARCHBISHOP MICHEL MALO, of the Prado Institute, Archbishop of Antsiranana, Madagascar: "Examining the role of a bishop in his diocese: In Madagascar a bishop's responsibilities undoubtedly take on different forms, according to whether he is in the middle of the island, where there is the problem of the second evangelization, or in the peripheral areas still in the phase of first evangelization. ... To all this we should add that we are currently facing a new situation. The reduction in the age of clergy in which the number of senior priests is not sufficient actually requires us to play the role of 'father and mother' (ray amandreny), understanding but firm, particularly with regard to those who find difficulty in living their ministry, accompanying them on the path of conversion. ... We do not hide that there is still a cruel lack of the human resources necessary to properly support our mission. On the other hand, the lack of road infrastructures and telephone lines involve the need for considerable physical effort for our pastoral visits and contribute to making the bishop burn out precociously. Will the bishops know how to respond to the challenges of the formation of consciences? How can we conceive periods of actualization and rest which allow us to replenish our energy? These are some of the questions arising from our periodical meetings and I would like to submit them to this Assembly."

BISHOP JEAN NTAGWARARA OF BUBANZA, BURUNDI: "The Church of Burundi celebrated its centennial in 1998. Therefore it is one of the youngest Churches in the world. The episcopacy of Burundi has become entirely autochthonous since 1973. Today, 65 percent of the population is Catholic Christian. ... In a nation that has been subjected to war and its parade of horrors - refugees living in and outside of the Nation, some for more than thirty years; religious persecution that provoked the massive departure of missionaries to their own or other horizons; widows, war orphans and AIDS, street children with a hope for the future; an ever growing impoverishment - the Bishop is called to be the voice of those without a voice. His message must not stop at compromise, but must open man to the future Jesus offers. In effect, the Jesus that he proclaims frees and unites. The Bishop, like the man for all men, is the promoter of justice and peace. He unceasingly calls to dialogue, forgiveness, reconciliation and unity by inviting each one to conversion of the heart. This is an arduous mission. 2. Just like Christ and His followers, the Bishop is called to be with his people, to share the joys and the suffering."

BISHOP RAMON C. ARGUELLES, MILITARY ORDINARY OF THE PHILIPPINES: "The phenomenon of human mobility should not be relegated in the peripheries of episcopal ministry. ... First: as servant-leaders of the Church, bishops should transcend national boundaries, national interests, national prejudices and welcome and protect the rights of all displaced persons, and guide them. Second: genuine episcopal collegiality and co-responsibility will be best displayed when both the bishops of the Church a quo and those of the Church ad quem share the task of welcoming the people on the move into new situations, alleviating their pain of exile and separation from their families, providing Catholic migrants with deeper catechetical and spiritual formation, encouraging and empowering them to live their faith and witness to it in their day to day existence and trials. Third: the bishops, servants of the Good News of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World, as well as their close collaborators, the priests and religious, should not feel threatened by the enthusiasm, energy and commitment of the laity."

BISHOP ROBERT CHRISTOPHER NDLOVU OF HWANGE, ZIMBABWE: "I am therefore convinced that a Bishop who loves his local church should take interest in the seminary program. ... Some Bishops can be described as being overzealous for souls leading to their concentration on quantity rather than quality. ... From good seminarians come good priests; and from good priests comes a good Bishop. ... I think when it comes to the choice of a diocesan Bishop, due attention should be paid to the spirituality of the candidate, his closeness and openness to the people, and less to (his) administrative skills. I should like to conclude by making reference to the role of our Episcopal Conference in socio-political matters of our country. ... Bishops have become truly the voice of the voiceless. Through their Justice and Peace Commission they denounced all the injustices and massacres that were a daily occurrence. Not surprising, a number of priests and religious lost their lives in the process, among them a Bishop. ... Soon after independence the new government hailed the Church for her stance. ... Thanks to this consistency on the part of the Church in denouncing all forms of evil, she has remained a credible voice in our country. ... Thus, we can truly say that we have remained a voice of hope to our people."

BISHOP JEAN-CLAUDE MAKAYA LOEMBE OF POINTE-NOIRE, REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: "Today how can one revive the hope of young people so that they can commit themselves in the life and action of the Church? ... Installing the love of God into the hearts of the young means helping (them) to grow and last in the dynamics of witnessing and prayer (considering prayer as a way of inspiring in human life the love of God). This mission is not a need to reveal in the future but in place of the game of today: in which the present moment being the only one at our disposal and makes up our only richness. It is only the love of God that will permit the young to grasp better the places at stake in dramatic situations that we live in today, without despair. ... Youth need spiritual guides in their lives, not simple tour guides but true guides at their disposal. ... If we shine because of our absence, other guides will take our place. There is also another category of youth: the young bishops. They need the attention or the witnessing of love of their elders in the episcopate. Usually they pass long moments of desperation at the beginning of their episcopate."

Vatican Information Service
11. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 12.10.2001, sist endret 12.10.2001 - 15:52