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Thursday, October 16, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Seventeenth General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began today at 4.30 p.m. in the presence of the Holy Father and 236 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the session was dedicated to the presentation of the "Relatio post disceptationem" (report after the discussion).

  A total of 229 Synod Fathers, nine fraternal delegates and 22 auditors have spoken thus far over the course of the General Congregations.

  Speaking Latin, Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada, relator general of the Synod, read out the "Relatio post disceptationem" on the Synod's theme of "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church". His report summarised the proposals made by the Synod Fathers during the General Congregations and suggested guidelines to facilitate the work of the language groups and the preparation of the pastoral proposals to put before the Holy Father.

  An English-language summary has been released according to which: This synthesis emerges from the interventions made in the Hall after the "Relatio ante disceptationem", and is elaborated from the general outline in ten chapters, chosen by the Relator General and developed with the help of the Special Secretary and the Experts. Following the division used in the "Instrumentum laboris", the material is presented in three parts.

  The first part is entitled "God speaks and hears" and contains three points: (1) Revelation, creation, the history of salvation; (2) Christ, the Spirit and the Church; (3) the Word of God, liturgy, listening. The first point begins with a consideration on the reflection of the Benedict XVI who, commenting on Psalm 18, recalled that the Word of God is solid, it is reality, it is the stable and lasting foundation of every thing. Beginning with this invitation to a new realism based on the Word of God, the Synodal Assembly - the Relator General explained - led to a very worthwhile discussion.

  The synthesis continues dealing with the topic of "Revelation and Intra-Trinitarian Dialogue", the dialogic characteristic of the Word, whose foundations can be found in the Mystery of the Trinity and which calls man to dialogue; the "Word of God and the history of salvation", the revelation as a dialogical movement in which God addresses His creatures and leads them to the fullness of salvation; finally, the history of salvation, achieved in the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Word and in the definitive gift of the Holy Spirit.

  The second point presents Christ, the fullness and achievement of the Trinitarian revelation; Christ, the sole mediator, and dialogue; the Mystery of the Church, the action of the Holy Spirit and the interpretation of the Scriptures.

  The third point recalls the sacramental dimension inherent in the Word of God and the importance, underlined by many interventions by the Synod Fathers, that the relationship existing between the Word of God and the liturgy and, in particular, the Eucharistic liturgy, should be reinforced; the anthropological dimension of God's revelation in His Word, whereby man is a being called to hear the Word; the Church, mother and teacher of listening to the Word of God; finally, the relationship between the Word and vocation, the Word and the poor, Word, silence and prayer, the Word and faith, the Word and holiness.

  The second part is entitled: "The Word of God, Holy Scripture, Tradition" and is developed in four points: (1) Event, encounter, interpretation, (2) Unity, primacy, circularity; (3) Eucharist, homily, community; (4) Exegesis, theology, "lectio divina".

  In the first point, "Event, encounter, interpretation" the Word of God is presented as an event in history. Many interventions underlined the fact that the Word of God as such cannot be merely identified with the Sacred Scripture, although the two terms are often believed to be synonymous. In fact, the doctrine expressed in "Dei Verbum" clearly states that the Word of God is transmitted inseparably in the inspired written Word (Holy Scriptures) and in the living Tradition of the Church.

  The synthesis continues dealing with the interpretation and the connection between Sacred Scripture and the life of the faithful in the Church; the Word of God and the cultural challenges of our times.

  In the second point, called "Unity, primacy, circularity", the themes of unity and the primacy of the Word of God are presented, as well as the unity of the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium expressed by "Dei Verbum"; the work of the Holy Spirit in the triple-connection Scripture-Tradition-Magisterium.

  The third point, "Eucharist, homily, community" deals with the relationship between Scripture and the Eucharist, with the question, which emerged from the Synodal discussion, on how to privilege, among the faithful, a more unitary perception of this relationship; the sacramental dimension of the Word, the Word and eschatological dimension; the celebration of the Word; the importance of the homily; art as an analogical form of preaching; finally, the relationship between the Word of God, celebration and community.

  "The fourth point, "Exegesis, theology, 'lectio divina'", deals with the relationship between exegesis and theology and presents 'lectio divina' as the individual and community reading of a passage, recalling that the approach to the sacred text, when personally done by the faithful, cannot be separated from communion and from the ecclesial context.

  Finally, the third part is called "The Word of God, mission, dialogue" and contains three points: (1) Witness, kerygma, catechesis; (2) Culture, dialogue, commitment; (3) Communication, proclamation, translations. In this part, under the second point "Culture, dialogue, commitment", the Word of God is presented as an ecumenical bond and the source of dialogue between the faithful and Jews.

  The synthesis continues by presenting the Word of God in the sphere of inter-religious dialogue, in its relationship with cultures and as a call to commitment. Many Synod Fathers spoke about inculturation, and an intervention in the Hall pointed out the Christological foundation of this. The last point focuses on the urgency, expressed many times by the Synod Fathers, in making the Bible available in all languages, including the unwritten ones; deals with new possibilities of transmitting the Holy Scriptures through the modern means of communication, underlines the proposal mentioned by several Synodal Fathers to create a specific ministry or to enhance the lectorate in the Church.

  In conclusion, the Relator General recalled how all the Synod Fathers feel the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel and how the new possibilities of communication invite one to take on the original initiative to spread the knowledge and to love Christ and the Scriptures, to favour the unity of Christians and to contribute to justice and peace in the world.


VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2008 (VIS) - This morning, for the second time in the current Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the Synod Fathers met for in language groups to begin preparing their proposals on the theme of the General Assembly.

  The third sitting of the language groups is due to take place today from 4.30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

  In the meantime, various "in scriptis" (written, not spoken) discourses by a number of the Synod Fathers have been made public, extracts of some of which are given below:

FR. ADOLFO NICOLAS S.J., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS (JESUITS). "It is my conviction that the Word of God can claim in a high degree a 'therapeutic' role in the life of the Christian community. Every time we 'enter' the world of the Bible, we are exposed to a new world: God's world; God's action; God's teaching of His people. The encounter, if real, can be shocking, surprising, enlightening, soothing or consoling. It can also be misunderstood and lost. ... Pastors and ministers of the Word need training for good diagnosis, for wise application of forms of reading, for deeper prayer and interiorisation of the Word of God, and for a meaningful accompaniment that helps the faithful discern the action of the Spirit in and through the reading of the Bible. ... It seems highly needed that this training be included in the preparation for pastoral ministry and in programs of ongoing formation for all priests. Moreover all parishes and/or dioceses should have access to centres or trained persons that can offer this service to individuals or communities and who can train catechists and other lay ministers in this important service".

CARDINAL VARKEY VITHAYATHIL C.SS.R., MAJOR ARCHBISHOP OF ERNAKULAM-ANGAMALY OF THE SYRO-MALABARS, AND PRESIDENT OF THE SYNOD OF THE SYRO-MALABAR CHURCH, INDIA. "Even though the right of every individual Church to preach the Gospel everywhere in the world under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff and the right of all the faithful of the Oriental Churches to have pastoral care by their own bishops and priests throughout the world are recognised by Vatican Council II and the two Codes of Canon Law, the Syro Malabar Church is neither given new mission territories in India, Africa, etc., nor the freedom to exercise her right to give pastoral care by her own bishops and priests to the hundreds of thousands of migrants in India, in the Gulf Countries, Europe and elsewhere, even 43 years after the conclusion of Vatican Council II. ... The Church has not only to preach the Word of justice to the faithful, but they should be pastorally helped to live by it. It is more so when it concerns practising justice within the Church. Peace is disturbed when justice is not done, because peace is the fruit of justice. Justice will also build up communion. In the case of the Syro Malabar Church, this justice has been denied for many centuries. It is high time that this Synod reflected over this unjust situation within the Church and proposed lasting remedies".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received prelates from the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Opening his remarks to them he reiterated his condolences for the recent death of Cardinal Antonio Jose Gonzalez Zumarraga, archbishop emeritus of Quito, Ecuador.

  "I note with satisfaction", the Holy Father went on, "that one of the pastoral initiatives you consider to be most important for the Church in Ecuador is implementing the 'great mission' identified by the Latin American Episcopate at Aparecida, Brazil. ... The call the Lord Jesus made to His disciples, sending them forth to preach the message of salvation and make disciples of all people, must be a constant theme of meditation and the raison d'etre of all pastoral activity for the entire ecclesial community".

  "In order to face the many challenges of your mission, and in a cultural and social atmosphere that seems to forget the deepest spiritual roots of its identity, ... it is necessary to make generous efforts to spread the world of God so that no-one remains without this indispensable spiritual nourishment, source of life and light".

  The Pope recalled how this missionary task "depends particularly upon priests" and how, given the shortage of clergy in many areas of Ecuador, the prelates are "committed to involving all groups, movements and individuals" of their dioceses "in a wide-ranging and generous form of vocational pastoral care. These efforts", he continued, "must be accompanied by the greatest care in selecting seminarians and in their intellectual, human and spiritual formation. In this way ... they will be able to shoulder the demands of their future ministry with joy and a sense of responsibility".

  "In this important stage of history, the Church in Ecuador needs mature and committed lay people who, with a solid doctrinal formation and a profound interior life, live their specific vocation of illuminating all human, social, cultural and political reality with the light of Christ". In this context Benedict XVI thanked the prelates for their efforts in "recalling the attention of society to those values whihc bring greater justice and solidarity to human life".

  "Although the activity of the Church must not be confused with political concerns", he said, "it must, through reflection and moral judgements, offer its own contribution to the entire human community, also on those political questions that particularly affect human dignity".

  The Holy Father concluded by calling on the bishops to dedicate particular attention to the charitable activities of their Churches, activities which must "express the merciful love of Christ, especially to people in need, the elderly, children, emigrants and to abandoned and mistreated women".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Ten years after the publication of John Paul II's Encyclical "Fides et Ratio", the Pontifical Lateran University in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the World Conference of Catholic University Institutions of Philosophy, has organised a conference to commemorate the anniversary.

  This morning, participants in the congress were received in audience by the Holy Father who spoke of the "constant relevance" of the Encyclical, which "is characterised by its great openness to reason, especially in a period in which there is speculation about its weakness. John Paul II underlined the importance of uniting faith and reason in a reciprocal relationship, while respecting the autonomy proper to each.

  "With this document", he added, "the Church interpreted an emerging need of the modern social context. She sought to defend the force of reason and its capacity to arrive at truth, while once again presenting the faith as a specific form of knowledge thanks to which we open to the truth of Revelation. The Encyclical says that we must trust in the capacity of human reason and not set overly modest goals".

  "Who can deny", the Pope asked, "the contribution the great philosophical systems have made to the development of man's self-knowledge and to the progress of various cultures? Indeed, these cultures become fruitful when they open to truth, enabling those who participate in them to reach objectives that make social life ever more human".

  "Nonetheless, we cannot conceal the fact that there has been a slide from a prevalently speculative form of thought to a chiefly empirical one. Research has turned to focus above all on the observation of nature in the attempt to discover its secrets. And the desire to understand nature has then been transformed into the desire to reproduce it. ... Scientific and technological progress, which 'fides' is increasingly called to confront, has altered the old concept of 'ratio'; in some way it has marginalised the reason that sought the ultimate truth of things to make way for a reason that satisfies itself with discovering the contingent truths of the laws of nature.

  "Scientific research certainly has a positive value" when "the applied sciences are the fruit of reason and an expression of the intelligence with which man manages to penetrate the depths of creation. For its part, faith does nor fear scientific progress and the developments to which its achievements lead when their ultimate focus is man, his wellbeing and the progress of all humanity".

  The Holy Father pointed out that "science is not capable of establishing ethical principles. ... In this context, philosophy and theology become an indispensable aid which must be taken into account to ensure that science does not advance alone along a difficult path full of pitfalls and not without risks. This does not mean limiting scientific research ... but in keeping alive the sense of responsibility which reason and faith must have towards science, to ensure it remains at the service of man".

  "Reason", he went on, "discovers that beyond its own achievements and conquests there exists a truth that can never be discovered by using its own parameters, but only received as a gratuitous gift. The truth of Revelation is not superimposed on the truth achieved by reason, rather it purifies and exalts reason, enabling it to expand beyond its confines to become part of a field of research as unfathomable as the mystery itself".

  Benedict XVI concluded: "The passion for truth impels us to turn into ourselves to discover the profound meaning of our lives in the interior man. True philosophy must lead people by the hand and bring them to discover how fundamental knowing the truth of Revelation is for their own dignity".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a Message to Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the occasion of World Food Day, an annual event organised by the FAO every 16 October.

  Commenting upon the theme chosen for this year's Day - "World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy" - the Holy Father writes that it "enables reflection upon achievements in the fight against hunger and upon the obstacles facing the FAO in the new challenges threatening the life of the human family".

  Benedict XVI highlights how "above all we must undertake to illuminate the reasons that prevent authentic respect for human dignity. With the means and resources the world has at its disposal, it is possible to supply sufficient nourishment and to satisfy the growing needs of everyone", he says.

  "The incorrect management of food resources caused by corruption in public life and increasing investment in arms and sophisticated military technology, to the detriment of people's primary needs, has great importance", he adds.

  The Pope also highlights how "an effective campaign against hunger, in order to confront climate change or to allocate agricultural production primarily to food, calls for much more than mere scientific studies. It is necessary, above all, to rediscover the significance of human beings in their individual and community dimensions".

  "This reflects the need to build relations between peoples based on real and constant openness, to ensure that each country is able to satisfy the requirements of those in need, and to transmit the idea of relations founded on the interchange of reciprocal knowledge, values, rapid assistance and respect".

  Benedict XVI underscores the importance of "commitment to promoting effective social justice in relations among peoples", so that the economy may be oriented towards the distribution of the goods of the earth, "to their sustainable use and to the fair division of their benefits".

  "One essential condition to increase levels of production and guarantee the identity of indigenous communities, as well as peace and security in the world", he concludes, "is to guarantee access to land, favouring agricultural workers and promoting their rights".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Paolo Mietto C.S.I., apostolic vicar of Napo.

    - Bishop Gonzalo Lopez Maranon O.C.D., apostolic vicar of San Miguel de Sucumbios.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Joseph Anthony Toal of the clergy of the diocese of Argyll and The Isles, Scotland, rector of the Royal Scots College of Salamanca, Spain, as bishop of Argyll and The Isles (area 31,080, population 74,383, Catholics 10,383, priests 29, religious 12). The bishop-elect was born in Roy Bridge, Scotland in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1980. He succeeds Bishop Ian Murray, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns S.M., military ordinary of Great Britain, as bishop of Menevia (area 9,310, population 801,650, Catholics 26,688, priests 52, religious 133), Wales. He succeeds Bishop Mark Jabale O.S.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Fr. Adolfo Nicolas S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), as a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
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