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Monday, October 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The working sessions of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops concluded this morning with the approval of the 55 propositions which the Synod Fathers have presented to Benedict XVI.

  By order of the Pope, a provisional and unofficial Italian-language version of the propositions has been made public by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. This is the second time that Benedict XVI has allowed the publication of the closing propositions of a synodal assembly. Normally the propositions are given privately to the Pope for him to consider while preparing the Apostolic Exhortation, the official closing document of a Synod.

  The first part of the list, entitled: "The Word of God in the Faith of the Church" includes the propositions from 3 to 13. They focus on the duty of pastors to educate the faithful to gain a better experience of their relationship with Christ Jesus, through reading and meditation upon Scripture.

  After analysing the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the propositions highlight how the poor, "in need not only of bread but also of the words of life", have a preferential right to know the Gospel.

  Referring to one of the "challenges of the modern world: the great progress of science in respect to its knowledge of the natural world, with the paradoxical result that it can end up obscuring the ethical message arising therefrom", the Synod asks pastors "to be sensitive to the rediscovery of natural law and its function in the formation of consciences".

  The second part (propositions 14 to 37) focuses on the theme: "The Word of God in the Faith of the Church". On the subject of the Word of God and the liturgy, it is suggested the Bible be placed in a visible position inside churches, and that the Word of God be clearly proclaimed by people who have "familiarity with the dynamics of communication".

  On the subject of the homily - one of the major themes of the synodal assembly - the propositions stress the need to prepare it well, bearing in mind the day's biblical readings, what those readings mean to the priest, and what he must then say to the community in the light of their real situation. The need to promote "lectio divina" (the prayerful reading of Scripture) is also emphasised.

  The Synod Fathers encourage the laity in their efforts to transmit the faith and, in this context, underline the indispensable role of women, especially within the family, in catechises and in the ministry of the lectorate. They also note that, although the liturgy of the Word is a privileged place for the encounter with Christ, it must not be confused with the liturgy of the Eucharist.

  Another of the propositions reflects a suggestion made by the Pope himself: that, in exegesis, it is important to bear in mind the two methodologies indicated by the Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Verbum": the historical and the theological. This is because, as Benedict XVI said in an address during the Synod, "if an hermeneutics of faith is lacking, there necessarily arises a positivist or secularist hermeneutic, according to which the divine does not enter into human history".

  The third and final part includes propositions 38 to 54 on: "The Word of God in the Mission of the Church". It deals with such issues as the Word of God and liturgical art, and the translation and distribution of the Bible. These propositions also highlight the importance of the communications media for evangelisation and warn against the danger of a fundamentalist reading of the Bible and the phenomenon of sects.

  Other themes considered in this section include inter-religious dialogue, the promotion of pilgrimages, the study of Holy Scripture in the Holy Land, dialogue with Jews and Muslims, and the relationship between the Word and the protection of the environment.

  The Synod Fathers call for a strengthening of inter-religious dialogue and insist "that all believers be effectively guaranteed the liberty to profess their religion in private and in public, and that freedom of conscience be recognised". The prelates suggest that episcopal conferences should promote meetings and dialogue with Jews. On the subject of Muslims, they stress the "importance of respect for life, and of the rights of men and of women, as well as the distinction between the socio-political and the religious spheres in promoting justice and peace in the world. An important part of this dialogue will be reciprocity and freedom of conscience and religion", they say.

  In the final proposition, dedicated to the Virgin Mary model of the Church's faith, it is suggested that the faithful be further encouraged to pray the Angelus and the Rosary.
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