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General Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops (8.10.)

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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 delegateon duty was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation forBishops.

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

"The 'mission' of the bishop,specificallytoday, is not one of many duties, but rather the priority is pastoralaction. ... Conscious of the missionary nature of their own pastoralministry, the bishops need to act in such a way that the missionary spiritvivifies all the ecclesiastical activity of their dioceses in an effectivemissionary way, especially with the invitation in certain missions of theirpriests, fidei donum duly prepared spiritually and intellectually. The MotoProprio 'Ecclesiae Sanctae', furthermore, reaffirms the inter-ecclesialcollaboration from an economic point of view as well, to be considered notjust as a charitable act, but as a duty to be carried out for the neediestdioceses."

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

ARCHBISHOP JULIAN HERRANZ, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THELEGISLATIVE TEXTS. "I would like to refer to an aspect of justice inecclesial society, concretely, to the duty of the bishops to guarantee andto promote the rights of the lay faithful in the life and mission of theChurch. ... 'The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistancefrom 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 alwaysunable to find confessors, even though priests are not lacking in theparish; they note that the Sunday Eucharistic celebration - center of thecommunity of the faithful - is not properly taken care of - contrary to thecanonical norms concerning public worship - the churches are always closedon weekdays, and they cannot receive Communion of pray before the BlessedSacrament, etc. ... 'The Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate anddefend the rights which they enjoy in the Church before a competentecclesiastical court in accord with the norm of law'(can. 221, para.1)."

ARCHBISHOP HENRYK MUSZYNSKI OF GNIEZNO, POLAND. "The various episcopalconferences, following the example of the synod of bishops, must seek toresolve the most important pastoral and moral problems in communion amongthemselves. The communal witness of the Churches, exercised in the spiritof collegial unity and ecclesial communion, is a concrete and credible signof the Gospel of hope. An example of the concrete realization of the Gospelof hope is the joint pastoral letter of the episcopal conferences of Polandand Germany, published in 1995, for the 50th anniversary of the end of theSecond World War. The principle of subsidiarity can help many on apractical level as a social concept, but cannot define the relation betweencollegiality and the hierarchical structure of the Church because both areof divine institution. Speaking of the Church one most adopt instead thetheological principle of auxiliarity, in which each member carries out afunction entrusted directly by God Himself: God has fashioned the membersof the body in the distinct way which He has desired, in order to form onesingle 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 preserveevangelical coherence and order. It is not easy to unite prudence totimeliness, strength to meekness, justice, the defence of the individualand common good, to mercy. The bishop dominated by fear will be neither aman 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. ... Perhapswe could present to the Holy Father, among other respectful propositions,one which permits the request, in the choice of candidates to theepiscopate, those gifts which assure the Church, placed in confrontationwith secularism, practical apostasy and the degradation of customs, bishopswho guide them with courage, part of the spiritual make-up of Ignatius,Iraneaus, Athanasius, Eusebius of Vercelli, Borromeo, Faulhaber, and thosewho, beyond the iron curtain defended and maintained the faith."

BISHOP JAVIER ECHEVARRIA RODRIGUEZ, PRELATE OF THE PERSONAL PRELATURE OFOPUS DEI, ITALY. "The Instrumentum Laboris refers to the relation betweenbishops when they are present in a territory of various 'sui iuris'Churches or a personal prelature or a military ordinariate. Their relationswith these local Churches must necessarily express the unity of the Church,which is a 'unity of communion'. Personal prelatures are a part of thiscontext of communio and cannot be considered as 'alternative' structures tothe particular Churches although at their service, insofar as they carryout the particular pastoral works for which they exist, which per seconverge harmoniously with the ordinary pastoral work of the local Churchesin which they are present and are therefore directed to the building up ofthe one and same Church of Christ. Such convergence is a reality intrinsicto the ecclesiological nature of these institutions, also because thefaithful 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 atrans-regional character, which require particular pastoral responses. Whensuch situations present fitting characteristics, an episcopal conferencecould propose to the Holy See, in conformity with the hopes of VaticanCouncil II, the erection of a personal prelature on a national level withthe goal of integrating the pastoral action of the dioceses concerned, asalso noted in the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in America'."

CARDINAL DIONIGI TETTAMANZI, ARCHBISHOP OF GENOA, ITALY. "In the context ofa culture inebriated by current and earthly values, the bishops are calledto question the place which the truth/reality of eternal life has in theirministry, with the knowledge that it is not something secondary oroptional, but essential and irrefutable, because it touches all of theconstitutive and specific elements of the faith and the Christianexperiences. In their ministry of teaching, the bishops are called to urgepriests to announce eternal life, using in a delicate and courageous waythe event of death and the pastoral occasion of Christian funerals. Theyare called, furthermore, in their ministry of sanctification to ensure acelebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments which emphasizes the valueof awaiting and anticipating eternal life, restoring in this way as wellthe sense of the sacred and of mystery. ... It is necessary, however, toremember that true Christian hope does not dissuade us from ourresponsibilities in the face of the countless miseries and injustices ofhistory."

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

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

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

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