Synod Emphasizing Bishop as Teacher of the Faith

First Conclusions of Working Groups

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The bishop as "teacher of the faith," and the concept of collegiality have been the two most debated issues at the ongoing Synod of Bishops.



The topic of episcopal teaching of the faith was addressed Tuesday by the relators of the 12 linguistic working groups. The general assembly also heard the first conclusions of the ecclesial summit.

The "French-speaking A" group, whose relator is Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loembe of Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo, explained: "Even if the bishop must intervene in ethical questions to announce a certain number of moral precepts, the living center of his proclamation must be the Word of God.

"He must present the Son of God incarnated in the history of the world --above all in the countries where Islam is present -- and the dramatic and liberating aspect of faith in Jesus, in focusing on the dead and resurrected Christ."

The "Hispanic C" group, whose relator is Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, Mexico, said: "In his prophetic function, the bishop must take into account the believer´s personal following of the Person of Christ; [he] must incite faith and the acceptance of its contents.

"In this sense, he must take into account the particular culture of his flock, to proclaim the Gospel in current and accessible terms. Similarly, we must proclaim a God who is not static, but who has promised salvation: Our hope is rooted in that promise."

The Spanish-speaking team added: "In today´s civilization, the prevailing culture favors independence, relativism, immanentist views and self-sufficiency. Faced with this situation, in communion with Peter, the bishop must propose in his diocese the Christian kerygma with all the weight of revealed truth of which he is the authentic teacher, by the authority received from Christ."

The "Italian B" group, whose spokesman is Archbishop Cosmo Francesco Ruppi of Lecce, Italy, explained that the bishop "must be a ´doctor veritatis,´ and for this reason must proclaim the doctrine of Christ and of the Church, aware that Jesus, sole redeemer and Lord, leads us to the full knowledge of God and to the life of grace."

This Italian group stressed "the need for [the bishop] to always continue on the path of holiness" and become "an authentic teacher of prayer and spiritual guide. For this reason, his humility and poverty, his faith, his hope and his charity must be reflected, offering his own life and his own apostolic service as a model to the flock."

Archbishop John Olorunferni Onaiyekan, president of the Nigerian episcopal conference, who represented the "English C" group, said: "Among the truths of the faith that need the special attention of the bishop, as he exercises his teaching office, we identified the doctrine about Jesus as the only Savior of the world, the Church as a necessary part of God´s plan of salvation, and ecumenism properly understood."

"In the area of Christian morality, we need to stress the social doctrine of the Church, the teachings on marriage and the family, and the ethics of responsible sexual behavior," the group added.

The afternoon´s reports concluded with the "Hispanic A" group, whose relator is Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, vice president of the Peruvian episcopal conference.

He underlined that the "fundamental point on which the bishop should focus in the exercise of his ministry is the Person of Jesus, his obedience to the Father, and his salvific centrality."

The Peru prelate added: "The bishop should proclaim Christ, his cross and his resurrection, as the first announcement, in the face of a secularized and hedonistic world."

Hence, this group advocated the "permanent formation of the bishop in spiritual, theological, pastoral and other fields of knowledge," including "progress in the sciences" which so often leads "to doubts about Christian morality."