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Thursday, October 9, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Sixth General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began today at 9 a.m..

  The president delegate on duty was Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This morning's session concluded at 10.30 a.m. so as to enable the 242 Synod Fathers present to participate in the Mass for the 50th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Pius XII.

  Extracts from some of the speeches are given below:

BISHOP VINCENT RI PYUNG-HO OF JEONJU, KOREA. "I would like to share my personal experience: Since the beginning of my episcopacy in 1990, I have been trying to memorize all the biblical passages of daily Mass And most of the time in my preaching, it is enough for me to let the words of God speak by themselves. Then my people understand very well and they are so happy to hear directly the Word of God and the Word of God itself saves the people. ... So, would it not be vital, first, to incorporate a certain amount of Bible 'byhearting' in the formation program of the future and present priests? And second, to establish a concrete directory for a good biblical preaching for them?"

CARDINAL STANISLAW DZIWISZ, ARCHBISHOP OF KRAKOW, POLAND. "Sometimes it seems that candidates to the priesthood treat the texts of the Sacred Scriptures as an object of study without taking into account their spiritual dimension. For them, the Scripture does not become the Word of their life. The force of the Word, capable of changing man, converting him, is not unleashed by the Scripture. We have to rethink the role of the Word of God in seminary formation and, consequently, in the permanent formation of priests. ...The people of God need priests who are passionate about the Word and service. This is one of the necessary conditions of new evangelization that was so close to the heart of Pope John Paul II".

BISHOP EMMANUEL LAFONT OF CAYENNE, FRENCH GUYANA. "The Catholic Biblical Federation is for bishops a privileged instrument which ensures the Word remains the source and inspiration of all prayer, all evangelization, all homily, all catechesis, of every episcopal document and of every work of charity. I can testify to the fertility of the Word among the small and the humble. I have a degree in Holy Scripture from the Biblical Institute of Rome, but it was the poor who really opened me up to the force of the Word. ... The poor are profoundly receptive to the Word of God, and the Church should always read it with them close at hand. I ask that this Synod demonstrates great confidence in the way the humble people and lay persons in general welcome the Word. My greatest fear is not that they make a mistake when they read the Bible, but that they don't read it, and that we may prevent them, by imposing too many precautions, from becoming lovers of the Word".

CARDINAL POLYCARP PENGO, ARCHBISHOP OF DAR-ES-SALAAM, TANZANIA AND PRESIDENT OF THE SYMPOSIUM OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES OF AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR (SECAM). "There is an appalling phenomenon covering a great part of the African Continent: namely the exodus of the Catholic faithfu1 who abandon the Church to join Pentecostal sects. One reason for that is the reality of a 'division between exegetical research and theological formulation', that is, the lack of reciproca1 collaboration between the two sciences. The outcome of this situation is the violation of the truth of the Sacred Text as well as spiritua1 confusion. This reality invites biblical and theological scientists to collaborate more closely".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Fifth General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place this afternoon in the presence of the Holy Father. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

  Extracts from some of the speeches are given below:

ARCHBISHOP DONALD WILLIAM WUERL OF WASHINGTON, U.S.A. "The Liturgy is both an act of worship and a pedagogue. The three-year cycle of the Lectionary in its presentation of Scripture offers us an extraordinary opportunity to link the twenty century-long experience of that Scripture reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The two, the Lectionary and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, should be seen in their correlative qualities. The task before is to help our faithful understand that they are part of the Church, a visible community that is also a spiritual communion. The liturgical homily provides the best occasion for our faithful to encounter the living person of Christ from within an authentic ecclesial and communal setting. ... An understanding of the ecclesial context of God's revelation also helps the hearer of the homily reaffirm not only the meaning of the Word but an allegiance and adherence to the body of Christ - the Church".

ARCHBISHOP TOMASH PETA OF MARIA SANTISSIMA IN ASTANA AND PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF KAZAKHSTAN. "In the 'Instrumentum Laboris' of our Synod, Part I, Chapter III there is a beautiful text dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary; 'Mary, Every Believer's Model for Receiving the Word'. ... The 'Instrumentum Laboris' points out the Holy Rosary as well, as a simple and universally applicable form of prayerfully hearing of the Word of God. I am convinced that it is vital for our times, to remind ourselves of and emphasise this form of prayer, because it is Mary's way; she, who understood and was united with the Word of God more than anybody. In our country Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, an uncountable number of Catholics, deported into this region, for decades had no access to priests or churches, to Bibles or the Sacraments (except the baptism of children which they carried out themselves), but they had the Rosary. It is exactly thanks to the prayer of the Holy Rosary that they were able to preserve their faith within them, as well as their understanding of the essential truths of the Catholic faith, their human dignity and the hope for better times".

BISHOP EDUARDO PORFIRIO PATINO LEAL OF CORDOBA, MEXICO. "Nowadays it is becoming particularly important to understand the proper relationship between the public Revelation of the Christian creed and private revelation, establishing the pertinence of the latter to genuine faith. ... Paragraph 7 of the 'Instrumentum laboris' points out that current religious experience is frequently 'more emotive than convinced, because of the lack of doctrinal knowledge'. People tend rather to subjectivity and the pleasure of creating for themselves a tailor-made religion. Simple people of good will are drawn to alleged [religious] manifestations. Sometimes, though, they become isolated religious groups within the Catholic Church proposing forms of devotion and spirituality the origins of which are to be found in 'private messages and revelations' which must be carefully evaluated and which must, in any case, serve to stimulate integral public Revelation within the living Tradition of the Church. What we suggest, therefore, is reaffirming the doctrine of 'Dei Verbum' 4 and the Catechism of the Catholic Church 66-67, as well as repeating the recommendation to pastors that they channel these religious experiences properly, using criteria that take into account the environment of mobility and globalisation in which we live".

CARDINAL ZENON GROCHOLEWSKI, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION. "Today there is an ever-growing number of educational institutes especially for lay students and ordained persons, but at the same time religious ignorance seems to be on the increase. Recent research, commissioned by the Catholic Biblical Federation and carried out in ten European countries, demonstrated that there is quite incredible ignorance among believers concerning elementary notions in the Bible, for example: 'Are the Gospels part of the Bible?', 'Did Jesus write any books in the Bible?', 'Which of these two people appears in the Old Testament - Moses or Paul?', etc. Such ignorance offers fertile soil for sects. ... We work hard, but perhaps we are not distributing our teaching efforts rationally. ... We should promote and encourage appropriate courses in the holy sciences which, so as to be more easily accessible to a wider public, do not necessarily offer academic qualifications. ... Importance must be given to the fundamental truths of faith, reconnecting them with the Word of God, because this is what determines our Christian life, our relationship with the Lord and our Christian joy".

BISHOP OSCAR MARIO BROWN JIMENEZ OF SANTIAGO DE VERAGUAS, PANAMA. "In paragraph 35 of the 'Instrumentum laboris' it is affirmed that the work of this Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church follows naturally from the preceding Assembly on The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church. ... The two parts of the rite, the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist, must not be juxtaposed as if they were interdependent of each other because they are intimately linked and form a single act of worship. ... In the liturgy of the Word, and in the Eucharistic liturgy, in the Mass, the Paschal Lord is truly present, in a dialogue in which God takes the initiative to address His Word to man, who responds with faith, obedience and conversion. In the Old Testament this presence is latent, in the New Testament it is clear".

BISHOP PETER LIU CHENG-CHUNG OF KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN. "The question is: how to make the 'kerygma' and the proclamation of God's living word more accessible to the faithful? How can this 'kerygma'   this encounter with God's word   be a real dialogue between Christ Himself and the faithful? The answer is recognition of the presence of the Holy Spirit in this Proclamation of God's living word. It is the Holy Spirit that empowers each baptised Catholic with gifts and charisms that are in turn contributions to the local Church. There is a call for bishops and parish priests to try to be open to these realities in the local community of the faithful. And its in these small group communities on the parish level that the Word proclaimed can become a living entity. Gradually the faithful in these communities can celebrate together the Liturgy of the Hours and community celebrations of the Sacrament of Penance (with individual confessions)".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this morning, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with cardinals for the anniversary of the death of Pius XII.

  Referring to the readings of the Mass, the Holy Father indicated in his homily that the Book of Sirach "reminds those who intend to follow the Lord that they must prepare themselves to face difficult trials and sufferings". He also suggested that in the light of this biblical text "we may examine the earthly life" of Pope Pius XII and his pontifical ministry, which coincided with World War II and with the Cold War.

  Benedict XVI spoke of Pius XII's long service to the Church, which began under Leo XIII in 1901, then continued under St. Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI.

  "In Germany, where he was apostolic nuncio ... until 1929", said the Pope, "he left grateful memories behind him, especially for having collaborated with Benedict XV in the attempt to stop the 'useless massacre' of the Great War, and for having understood from the start the danger of the monstrous national-socialist ideology with its pernicious anti-Semite and anti-Catholic roots. Created a cardinal in 1929 and shortly afterwards secretary of State, for nine years he was Pius XI's faithful collaborator in a period characterised by various forms of totalitarianism: the fascist, the nazi and that of Soviet communism, condemned, respectively, in the Encyclicals: 'Non abbiamo bisogno', 'Mit Brennender Sorge', and 'Divini Redemptoris'".

  Benedict XVI then went on to recall "the most difficult moments of Pius XII's pontificate when, aware that all forms of human security were giving way, he felt the powerful need ... to remain with Christ, the only certainty that never fails. The Word of God illuminated his journey, ... during which ... he had to console the displaced and the persecuted ... and weep the countless victims of the war".

  "This awareness accompanied Pius XII in his ministry as Peter's Successor, a ministry that began precisely at the moment in which the threatening clouds of a new global conflict were gathering over Europe and the rest of the world; a conflict that he sought in every way to evade. 'The danger is imminent, yet there is still time. Nothing is lost with peace. Everything may be lost with war', he cried out in a radio message on 24 August 1939.

  "The war underscored the love he nourished for his 'adored Rome'", the Holy Father added, "a love made manifest in the intensity with which he promoted works of charity in defence of the persecuted, with no distinction of religion, ethnicity, nationality or political views. ... How can we forget his radio message of Christmas 1942? His voice breaking with emotion, he deplored the situation of 'the hundreds of thousands of people who, with no individual blame, are sometimes, because of their nationality or race, destined for death or progressive exploitation', a clear allusion to the deportations and extermination being perpetrated against the Jews".

  Pius XII "often acted secretly and silently because, in the real situations of that complex moment in history, he had an intuition that only in this way would he be able to avoid the worst, and to save the largest possible number of Jews".

  The Pope indicated that the historical debate over the figure of Pius XII "has not thrown light on all aspects of his multifaceted pontificate". In this context he recalled the numerous messages and discourses his predecessor had given to all categories of people, "some of which are still extraordinarily relevant even today, and continue to provide a sure point of reference. Paul VI ... considered him to be the precursor of Vatican Council II".

  Referring then to some of Pius XII's documents, the Holy Father recalled the Encyclicals "Mystici Corporis" of June 1943, and "Divino afflante Spiritu" of September of the same year which "established the doctrinal norms for the study of Holy Scripture, emphasising its importance and role in Christian life. It is a document that gives evidence of great openness towards scientific research into biblical texts", he said.

  Benedict XVI also mentioned the Encyclical "Mediator Dei" which was published in November 1947 and concerns the liturgy. There, he said, "the Servant of God promoted the liturgical movement, highlighting the 'essential element of worship', which 'must be the interior element. It is, in fact, necessary', he wrote, 'always to live in Christ, to dedicate oneself entirely to Him, so that in Him, with Him and for Him glory is rendered unto God".

  After mentioning "the notable impulse this Pontiff gave to the Church's missionary activity with the Encyclicals 'Evangelii praecones' (1951) and 'Fidei donum' (1957)", the Holy Father pointed out that one of Pius XII's "constant pastoral concerns was the promotion of the laity, so that the ecclesial community could make use of all available energies and resources. For this too the Church and the world are grateful".

  "As we pray that the cause of beatification of Servant of God Pius XII may continue favourably, it is as well to recall that sanctity was his ideal, an ideal he did not fail to propose to everybody".

  The Pope concluded by pointing out that during the Holy Year 1950, Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin. "In this world of ours which, as then, is assailed by concerns and anguish for the future; in this world where, perhaps more now than then, the abandonment of truth and virtue by many people gives us glimpses of scenarios without hope, Pius XII invites us to turn our gaze to Mary, assumed in heavenly glory".

  Following the Mass, the Holy Father went down to the Vatican Grottoes to pray before the tomb of Pius XII.
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