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Thursday, October 13, 2005


VATICAN CITY, OCT 13, 2005 (VIS) - Late this morning in the Holy See Press Office, the second press conference on the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held, following yesterday's presentation in the Synod Hall of the "Relatio post disceptationem" (the document summarizing the main themes that emerged from the Synod Fathers' discussions).

  Participating in the press conference were the three president delegates, Cardinals Francis Arinze, Juan Sandoval Iniguez and Telesphore Placidus Toppo, as well as Archbishop John Patrick Foley, president of the Commission for Information of the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and Bishop Sofron Stefan Mudry O.S.B.M., vice-president of the same commission.

  Cardinal Arinze stressed how the Synod had impressed him, above all, with the commitment of all its participants to transmitting the faith, and with the importance given "to 'ars celebrandi,' that the faith upon which the people of God have fed in the church may accompany them when they leave the building, and encourage them to share what they have received with others."

  For his part, Cardinal Sandoval made reference to the depth of faith in the Eucharist. As an example of such faith, he quoted the words of a disabled person who, being unable to speak, before receiving communion wrote on his computer: "The Lord appears to be on the Crucifix, yet He is not there, He appears not to be in the Eucharist, yet He is." All of us, the cardinal said, "share this faith in the real presence of Christ." He then affirmed that one of the central moments of the Synod had been the presence and the words of Benedict XVI on the first day of the assembly, as well as the participation of the Pope "as just another Synod Father" during the free discussions at the end of the afternoon sessions.

  Cardinal Toppo underlined the Synod's capacity to bring together, having gathered people from five continents "united by the same faith." He observed that in his own continent, Asia, where so many religions coexist, the mark of identity for Catholics is unity in the Eucharist under the figure of the Holy Father. He also recalled how the president of the Indian delegation to the funeral of John Paul II, impressed by the involvement and unity of Catholics in the ceremony, had told him: "Today I felt the presence of God."

  Scarce participation at Sunday Mass in Western countries was what most called Archbishop Foley's attention during the Synod meeting, while he identified the most emotional moments as those in which certain Synod Fathers and delegates from Central and Eastern Europe told of the persecutions suffered and sacrifices made under the totalitarian regimes.

  Bishop Mudry concluded, stressing the importance of faith in the Eucharist for both Catholics and Orthodox, and of the teaching of this faith, beginning with the family. He went on to mention the work of priests and the role of the liturgy therein, pointing out that in Eastern churches the "visible signs of sanctity" with the presence of the tabernacle are perhaps more perceptible than in Western churches.

  At the end of the press conference a journalist asked why, given the problem of a shortage of priests in some regions of he world, the solution of priestly ordination of married men was still being put in doubt. Cardinal Toppo replied by saying that "the real problem is a crisis of faith, the lack of priests is a symptom of that crisis." On the same subject, Cardinal Sandoval listed some of the reasons for the shortage of priests: "a lack of faith, secularization, and the closing of the window onto infinity." For his part, the Ukrainian Bishop Mudry indicated that, despite the fact that Eastern Catholic Churches admit married priests, this does not solve the problem because "they also have to dedicate time to their families ... and its is difficult for them to move to another area to continue their mission, if their bishop so requests."

  On the subject of admitting divorced people to Eucharistic communion, Cardinal Arinze indicated how the Church "shows compassion to these people who are suffering, and although they cannot partake of communion - because their position does not reflect the image of unity between Christ and the Church (bridegroom and bride) - they continue to be members of the Church."

  With reference to a call made by some of the Synod Fathers over these days for greater homogeneity of inculturation, Cardinal Toppo stressed how this "is essential, and is the expression of a people's faith." Cardinal Sandoval added: "what is important is that hymns, dance, color, etc., help to encourage interior life, to unite oneself with the Lord, and that the ceremony does not become merely a show for entertainment."
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