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Friday, October 5, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - According to a decree made public today and signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Benedict XVI will grant faithful Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the Year of Faith. The indulgence will be valid from the opening of the Year on 11 October 2012 until its end on 24 November 2013.

"The day of the fiftieth anniversary of the solemn opening of Vatican Council II", the text reads, "the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has decreed the beginning of a Year especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, through the reading of - or better still the pious meditation upon - the Acts of the Council and the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church".

"Since the primary objective is to develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth, and thus to attain the most sublime level of pureness of soul, immense benefit may be derived from the great gift of Indulgences which, by virtue of the power conferred upon her by Christ, the Church offers to everyone who, following the due norms, undertakes the special prescripts to obtain them".

"During the Year of Faith, which will last from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013, Plenary Indulgence for the temporal punishment of sins, imparted by the mercy of God and applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful, may be obtained by all faithful who, truly penitent, take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

"(A) Each time they attend at least three sermons during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in church or any other suitable location.

"(B) Each time they visit, in the course of a pilgrimage, a papal basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church or a holy site designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, minor basilicas and shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles or patron saints), and there participate in a sacred celebration, or at least remain for a congruous period of time in prayer and pious meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, depending on the circumstances, to the Holy Apostles and patron saints.

"(C) Each time that, on the days designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith, ... in any sacred place, they participate in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding thereto the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form.

"(D) On any day they chose, during the Year of Faith, if they make a pious visit to the baptistery, or other place in which they received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form.

"Diocesan or eparchal bishops, and those who enjoy the same status in law, on the most appropriate day during that period or on the occasion of the main celebrations, ... may impart the papal blessing with the Plenary Indulgence".

The document concludes by recalling how faithful who, due to illness or other legitimate cause, are unable to leave their place of adobe, may still obtain Plenary Indulgence "if, united in spirit and thought with other faithful, and especially at the times when the words of the Supreme Pontiff and diocesan bishops are transmitted by television or radio, they recite ... the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers that concord with the objectives of the Year of Faith, offering up the suffering and discomfort of their lives".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, presented the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is due to take place in the Vatican from 7 to 28 October on the theme: "The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith".

Before entering into the details of the forthcoming synodal assembly the archbishop highlighted the importance of not separating the two aspects of the chosen topic. "The theme", he said, "indicates that the goal of new evangelisation is the transmission of the faith. And the process of transmitting the faith, which today faces many obstacles of different kinds, takes place within the context of new evangelisation".

He then went on to explain the preparations and the stages of the Synod, describing it as a "complex and demanding process" which can be divided into three interlinked aspects: "the spiritual dimension, theological and pastoral reflections, and technical and organisational preparations".

1. The spiritual dimension

"Prayer accompanies and stimulates all synodal activity. ... It accompanied the preparatory work ... and will have a pre-eminent role during the course of the gathering. Specifically, the Holy Father will preside at four liturgical celebrations: on 7 October, the inauguration of the Synod and the proclamation of St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Universal Church; on 11 October, Mass for the inauguration of the Year of Faith; on 21 October, the canonisation of the blesseds: Jacques Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Carmen Salles y Barangueras, Marianne Cope, Kateri Tekakwitha and Ana Schaffer; on 28 October, the closing of the Synod".

2. Theological and pastoral reflections

"Once the Holy Father had chosen the theme, the General Secretariat of the Synod prepared the 'Lineamenta', or preparatory document for reflection on that topic, which was published on 4 March 2011. The questionnaire accompanying the 'Lineamenta' was submitted to all the ecclesial organisations with which the General Secretariat maintains institutional contacts, with the request that responses be forthcoming before 1 November 2011. The response rate - which reached 90.5 per cent - is an expression of the great interest that the particular Churches and other organisations have in the theme chosen for the Synod. ... The Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat examined the responses which were then summarised in the 'Instrumentum laboris', made public on 19 June 2012".

"Other documents have also played an important role in preparations for the Synod. ... These include, apart from the Holy Father's catecheses, ... two Apostolic Letters 'Motu Proprio data'. The first of these is 'Ubicumque et semper" of 21 September 2010 by which the Holy Father created the Pontifical Counil for Promoting New Evangelisation, the second is 'Porta Fidei' of 11 October 2011 in which he proclaimed the Year of Faith".

3. Technical and organisational preparation

"As per the norms of 'Ordo Synodi Episcoporum', the Ordinal General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is attended 'ex officio' by the heads of the 'sui iuris' Eastern Catholic Churches and of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Apart from the Synod Fathers appointed by the Pope, other Synod Fathers are elected by their respective episcopal conferences, by the 'sui iuris' Eastern Catholic Churches if they have more than twenty-five bishops, and by the Union of Superiors General which has the right to elect ten members".

4. Participation in the Synod

"The thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be attended by 262 Synod Fathers, the largest number in the history of Synods. Of these, 103 are from Europe, 63 from the Americas, 50 from Africa, 39 from Asia and 7 from Oceania. The majority of the Synod Fathers, 182, have been elected: 172 by their episcopal conferences, 10 by the Union of Superiors General, and 3 by the 'sui iuris' Eastern Catholic Churches. Of the others, 37 are participating 'ex officio' and 40 were appointed by the Holy Father".

"Benedict XVI has appointed Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A., as relator general of the Synod and Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carre, archbishop of Montpellier, France, as special secretary. He has also appointed three presidents delegate: Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China; Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Also participating in the forthcoming synodal assembly will be forty-five experts, forty-nine auditors, fraternal delegates from 15 Churches and ecclesial communities not yet in communion with the Catholic Church, and three special guests: Frere Alois, prior of Taize, France; Rev. Lamar Vest, president of the American Bible Society, U.S.A., and Werner Arber, professor emeritus of microbiology at the University of Basel, Switzerland and president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences".

5. Important events

"Twenty-three General Congregations and eight Working Group sessions are scheduled to take place. The secretary general and relator general will deliver their reports on the morning of 8 October. During the afternoon session representatives of the episcopate on the five continents will deliver brief speeches indicating how the theme of the Synod is viewed in the particular Churches on their continents".

"During the afternoon session of 9 October, Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, will present a report on the reception of 'Verbum Domini', the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in October 2008".

"On 10 October His Grace Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican Communion, will address the assembly to outline the Anglican approach to the challenge of new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith".

"On the afternoon of 12 October Werner Arber, professor emeritus of microbiology at the University of Basel, Switzerland and president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, will speak on the relationship between science and faith".

"During the Eucharistic celebration of 11 October, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I will address Benedict XVI and all those participating in the Mass for the opening of the Year of Faith".

"At the beginning of their work, the Synod Fathers will choose the members of the 'commission of the message'. The commission is made up of twelve members. The Holy Father has appointed the president and secretary (respectively, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Manila, Philippines) and will appoint a further two members, while the remaining eight members are to be elected by the Synod Fathers".

"The methodology of the Synod, which was modified by Benedict XVI in 2005, remains substantially unchanged. Each Synod Father will have five minutes to speak during the General Congregations, but during the open debates in the afternoon sessions (from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.) they will have no more than three minutes, so as to stimulate greater participation in the discussions. Speeches by fraternal delegates, experts and auditors must not exceed four minutes".

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