Synod Interventions for 4th General Congregation
| 745 hits
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here are summaries of the interventions given Tuesday afternoon at the fourth general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."
* * *
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Maurice PIAT, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Port-Louis (MAURITIUS)
The crisis in the transmission of faith in the societies of “Christianity”can largely be explained by the fact that in these societies the Church, enjoying a certain security, tended to consider faith as a given and privileged the teaching of doctrine while overlooking the Word of God in the process of transmission.
Not resting on the rock of the Word, the doctrinal and moral building becomes a house built on sand and it struggles to resist the tsunami of modern numerical culture.
This is why it is so urgent to rediscover the place of the Word of God as the foundation of life and the mission of the Church.
The Word is also a foundation when it is welcomed as the event of God speaking to us of Himself and turning to us as friends to invite us to share His life. This Word does not attempt to win over curious spirits, but to inspire faith in the hearts of the humble.
Thus proposing faith is not primarily transmitting an impressive content, but an invitation that is always joined to a promise “come and you will see”. The mission therefore is to invite a participation in the path as a humble pilgrim.
[Original text: French]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. George PUNNAKOTTIL, Bishop of Kothamangalam of Syro-Malabar (INDIA)
The approach of the Oriental Churches is more in the pastoral line (the Eastem Fathers receive little attention in the Instrumentum Laboris, just 8 citations!)
The Church in the patristic tradition emphasizes 2 aspects: 1) ecclesial; 2) spiritual. Bible is the Word of God in the Church. Individuals on their own cannot discover the inspiration or decide on the canon. These are guaranteed by the Church. The Word of God is enshrined in tradition. Yet Bible does not require the backing of tradition for its authority and truth. Tradition is rooted in the Sacred Scripture and supported by the Sacred Scripture. Tradition contrary to the Bible will not stand. Bible is the primary source of doctrine and faith.
Secondly, the Bible has historical and spiritual meaning. The spiritual sense is not against the literary meaning. It is based on it. Spiritual meaning is known by the "spiritual intellect". It is seen by the "inner eye of faith". Reasoning is not enough. Spiritual contemplation of the Word is required. True theologians are true saints.
Reading presupposes a state of prayer. Prayer illumines the mind to grasp what one reads. Reading of the Word should lead to the substantial Word, that is Jesus.
[Original text: English]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Guillermo José GARLATTI, Archbishop of Bahía Blanca (ARGENTINA)
The three-part division that the Instrumentum Laboris (IL) presents on the Word of God seems excellent. It is an eminently theological and pastoral approach and responds to the great challenges of today`s Church that, enlivened by the Spirit is called to show it authentically as the sacrament of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless I have the impression that internal unity is missing in the development of the three parts; this makes it so that, like the discussed themes, they seem to be juxtaposed or overlapped and without a clear continuity between them due to the lack of a unifying theoretical foundation. In order to overcome this problem, I believe that “the beautiful notion of ‘salvation history”’ (cf IL 10) could transform itself in the theological category and in the nucleus to become a unifying factor.
The expression “salvation history” appears three times in the IL (n. 10,25 and 34), but it does not give the impression that later it would be developed and taken sufficiently in consideration. It is a Biblical and theological concept of great richness and variety of significance, because it highlights God’s way of working (divine pedagogy) in the following salvation interventions): creation, election and formation of the People of God, Covenant, Christ as the center and the summit of Revelation, Church.
The concept of” salvation history ” understood as a transversal element, the basis of the whole salvation action of God, is without a doubt the most appropriate way of explaining and understanding divine pedagogy which expresses itself by “speaking”, “acting” and “dialoging”, but without losing sight that “the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation” (DV 2).
[Original text: Spanish]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Sylvester Carmel MAGRO, O.F.M., Titular Bishop of Salde, Apostolic Vicar of Benghazi (LIBYA)
Many of the faithful are unaware of the role of the Church in the formation of the Canon of the Scriptures.
They are conscious of the importance which the Church accords to the Word of God, but fail to appreciate the role of the Magisterium in identifying the "canon" of the Holy Books.
They do not realize that ultimately it was the Church who authenticated the Bible.
In actual fact the Bible presupposes the Church and depends on the Church for its own authentication ... The Church precedes the Scriptures.
Therefore, it should be made clear to the People of God that ultimatelythere had to be "some authority" capable of determining which books had to be considered authentic, or divinely inspired and so be included in the official list or "canon" of the New Testament in particular, while excluding the rest as "apocrypha", that is lacking divine inspiration.
"It was the Church Authority which actually authenticated the books which today we believe as making part of our Bible. This process of identification lasted almost five centuries.
The Church did this after long investigations and decided upon it in local and regional councils during which the matter was exhaustively studied".
The complete Christian "canon" or list of the New Testament Scriptures, was attested to by St. Athanasius in 367 A.D., but accepted universally only with the Synod of Rome in 380 and the councils of Hippo and Carthage (A D. 417)."It is the Church which came before the Scriptures; the Church that produced the Scriptures with divine assistance, and that preserved their integrity through the threats of persecution and heresy - it is the Church that gathered the Scriptures together in a book - a book that sustains all who call themselves Christian" (Scott Hahn).
[Original text: English]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. José Miguel GÓMEZ RODRÍGUEZ, Bishop of Líbano-Honda (COLOMBIA)
The ontological structure of human beings, of each human being, of all human beings, is essentially dialogue. This constitution of the human person depends, first of all, on his condition as a creature. God created us so we could enter into dialogue with Him. In the depth of our being we discover a dialogal dynamic that makes us different from other beings of our experience. And so our personal existence is, above all, as listeners. The human being is made such by his abililty to listen to God. Furthermore a person attains his fundamental identity and dignity in listening to the Word of God and in his extraordinary ability to respond to this with his whole being, intelligence and will.
The Church needs to remind humanity of these truths in such a way as to find the truths that still elude it. And it is pressing to establish the most suitable criteria for the authentic interpretation of the revealed Word. The interpretation of the Bible is beyond the caprices of modern relativism, and therefore is uncomfortable for many. Evangelization and the missione ad gentes are essential and require all the zeal of Christians who know that listening to and receiving the Word are necessary for the life of the world.
[Original text: Spanish]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Orlando B. QUEVEDO, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato, General Secretariat of "Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences" (F.A.B.C.) (PHILIPPINES)
Reference: nos. 12 and 13 of the Instrumentum laboris. God spoke his Word, especially for the sake of the poor (e.g., Amos 2:6-7; 4:1; 5:10-11; 8:4-7; Jer. 34: 8-17; Is. 11:4). He was their refuge and liberator Jesus the Incarnate Word, born of Mary, was poor, lived with the poor, mingled with them and those considered sinners. They became his disciples and called them blessed. To them he proclaimed God's Reign. He said we must be poor in spirit.
Incredibly, rich in a marvelous mosaic of ancient cultures and religions, we in Asia are nevertheless a continent of the poor, of economic and political imbalances, of ethnic division and conflict. Our profound sense of transcendence and harmony is being eroded by a globalizing secular and materialist culture.
But the Word of God in Asia is calling to the Father in the Holy Spirit thousands of small communities of the poor. And the poor in turn are heeding God's Word. In so doing they are building a “new way of being Church” -- really an old way -- the way of the early Jerusalem community (see Acts 2:43-46 and 4:32-35). Guided by their ordained pastors and trained lay leaders and collaborators, grassroots people gather every week in chapels and households to celebrate a Service of the Word.
They listen to the Word of God, reflect on the Word, pray over the Word, and discern together how to apply the Word to their daily lives. They receive Jesus in the Eucharist from trained lay extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. For them the Word of God is faith-empowering, urging them to participate actively within the Church and in social transformation. They are Basic Ecclesial Communities, renewing families, parishes and dioceses into vibrant communities, witnessing to the Word of God, quite often in a hostile multi-religious environment.
They are communities of solidarity and fellowship at the grassroots, effectively challenging in their own little way the modern culture of secularism and materialism.
To a certain extent they can echo even now the words of John, the beloved Disciple: “quod vidimus et audivimus annuntiamus et vobis, ut et vos communionem habeatis nobiscum. Communio autem nostra est cum Patre et cum Filio eius Jesu Christo” ( 1 Jn 1:3).
[Original text: English]
-- Rev. Father Giorgio NALIN, R.C.I., Superior General of the Rogationisti of the Heart of Jesus
Let us consider the vocational dimension of the Word of God from a dual perspective: a) the Word of God makes its appeal on its own behalf, insofar as it acts efficaciously in the hearts of those who welcome it; b) the Word of God contains characters, stories and reflections that tell of the call of God to various Biblical characters for missions: all these calls have as their model the single and definitive vocation and mission of the Son Jesus Christ, who carries within Himself achievement of the saving plan of the Father.
We need to underline how the definition of “vocation” is part of the growth of the human being, from the moment of birth to the end of existence. Therefore each person, because they live in this world, is loved by God and is called upon to realize themselves in line with a plan of love that makes sense of existence. According to the Biblical concept, man “does not have the vocation”, as a right, but he “has to mature his own vocation” in a gradual discovery to be undertaken in relation to God’s plan. It is from this that the need stems to place again at the center the Word of God that lights up the vocational path of each person. This meeting with the Word has a number of consequences:
The first is anthropological: the Word given to the freedom of Man defines being human as a “responsorial identity”.
The occurrence of the Word highlights the theological value insofar as the Word of God communicated through the Sacred Scriptures opens man to the transcendence of God, to the very being of the Trinitarian mystery.
The Word of God, and especially Sacred Scripture, take on a pedagogical role, teaching the hearer to listen to the Word, to compare with its message, to discern the proposal and take a position with himself and his history.
In the context of liturgical prayer, the Word finds its highest and most profound form. The welcoming of the word implies acceptance and interior silence.
The testimonial dimension of the Word of God: this asks to be declined not just within the Christian community but in the mission to the world and the evangelization of peoples.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Desiderius RWOMA, Bishop of Singida (TANZANIA)
The Word of God as Hymn of many Voices: on this, the Words of St. Augustine, the Great African Bishop are worth noting. In Johannes Tractatus 12, 5 St. Augustine says: "Sonat Psalmus, vox est Spiritus. Sonat Evangelium, vox est Spiritus. Sonat Sermo divinus, vox est Spiritus".
It is interesting to note that the great Saint says clearly that the Psalm, the Gospel and the Homily (preaching) are all voice of the Spirit. It is, however, surprising that when he mentions the sermon/ the preaching/the Homily, he calls it "Sermo divinus". This shows the importance which St. Augustine puts on the Homily and preaching in general. What Saint Augustine says, reflects the attitude of all the Church Fathers. For example, because of his preaching, John of Antioch came to be called Chrysostomos i.e. the golden mouth. It is said that even the pagans used to come to hear the preaching of St. Gregory of Nazienzus. His preaching merited him the name ho theologos, i.e. the theologian one who speaks for God.
The attitude of the Church Fathers towards the Word and preaching is a challenge to us. If we speak of people being lukewarm concerning matters of our faith and the phenomenon of religious sects which are spreading at an alarming speed in many parts of the World, the causes for this can possibly be traced back to lack of good and proper . preaching from the part of ministers.
To the Christian faithful, they did this by a permanent mystagogy and to the catechumens by the intensive catechesis. Their preaching was irresistible. They always preached in order to celebrate the Risen.
Emphatically Vatican II says, "by means of the Homily the mysteries of the faith and the gliding principles of the Christian Life are expounded ... " (SC 52). The Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church is a propitious moment to reflect on this and the preaching of the Church in general. We have to go back to the mystagogical preaching of the Church Fathers, which helps the Church to bear sons and daughters, nourishing them by leading them in the mysteries of our faith.
[Original text: English]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Anicetus Bongsu Antonius SINAGA, O.F.M. Cap., Coadjutor Archbishop Medan (INDONESIA)
Plausibly, we appreciate the chosen biblical text to accompany our endeavour during this universal Bishops' Synod, sounding "for the word of God is living and active sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit" (Heb 4:12). For one of the fundamental officia of the Bishops is as to “make every effort to have the faithful actively support and promote works of evangelization and the apostolate” (CD, no. 6).
Without mentioning its real reasons, we bishops are facing a kind of dullnization of the word of God, and at times it becomes blunt. And it belongs to our pastoral task to look for and allegedly provide answer and ways, in not losing the recapturing and actualizing the “sharpness and the functionality” of the word of God.
Conducivity should be endeavored that, “the Word of God might spread and triumph” (2 Thess 3:1). And this task belongs to the Bible Apostolate.
While we are willing that “all ... hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study” (Dei Verbum no. 25), it is also true that while our era is privileged of Bible availability, in national and vernacular languages, at the same time, especially people of our times are more lacking in reading and getting acquainted in matters of Sacred Scripture. It is desirable then that, this Bishops' Synod will committedly engage themselves to look for ways and methods to overcome such believers' incapability and affliction.
Tentative has been made in Indonesia as to form the Bishops' Conference's Biblical Commission. This was to advance the yet conveyed task of biblical pastoral to the Biblical Association, not under the Bishops' authority.
At the same time the Bishops' Conference has set up two kinds of biblical formation: printed formation and team formation. Preparing printed and electronic (CD) materials, on particular biblical themes -- the present annual biblical theme is “Sacred Scripture for Children” -- a national formator team has been set up for the training and capacity building of such formator groups, on the diocesan level. The format of such training, which further will train such a team on the level of parishes and out-stations, is purposely arranged in a character of active-partisipatorish formation.
All participants will take part in the sacred biblical dramatization while memorizing several Scripture verses, in the way of chanting or declamating. In such a way, materials prepared consist not only in the form of biblical text, but also in dramatization materials, holy depiction, CD, local musical instrumentals, including the Bible for reading. Through internet program, a provision of electronic manual is accessible. "Lectio divina" is endeavored to be conducted in accommodating motoric partisipatorish way; while intervally keeping appropriate musical internalizing meditation or silence. Especially for the children, Sunday Service is set up in the form of liturgical active formation, intervally in the form of Word of God and Holy Mass.
There is much to be done. But there is always a character of happy active festivity in such celebration, a nuance of cheerful Easter of our children Sunday Service. While accommodating the voluptivity, communicativity, visuality, audivity and motoric active participation of such a globalization generation, we do not fail to observe: Our children cheerfully will do not miss their Sunday Service, in such extend: they are doing as well missionary work in inviting attracted children of other faiths, and they grow to love looking for biblical text in the Sacred scripture.
[Original text: English]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Salvatore FISICHELLA, Titular Bishop of Voghenza, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University (VATICAN CITY)
The Dei Verbum had still not been discovered and developed in its great intuition that constituted an authentic dogmatic progress; the Council fathers in fact had recovered the Biblical concept of the uniqueness of the source. This allowed Sacred Scripture to be understood within the life of the Church which does not just live by it but is responsible for its being alive, complete and fruitful. Many believers when asked what they mean by “Word of God” reply: the Bible. This is not a wrong answer, but it is incomplete or at least it shows an incomplete perception of the richness present in the expression and leads, as a consequence, to identifying Christianity as the “religion of the book”. It is necessary that in our language we do not fall into the uncertain expression “the three religions of the book”. Christianity is the religion of the “word”. It is important to strive for the construction of a culture that sees sacred Scripture as a living word, dynamically open to the truth of the revelation it contains. If we do not present this teaching in its totality in the various instruments we possess for the training of our people, we risk humiliating the Word of God because we reduce it exclusively to a written text without the provocative force to bring meaning to life any longer. As the Apostle reminds us: “God’s message cannot be chained up” (2 Tm 2:9).
What we are always faced with is the inexhaustibility of the Word of God; it is like the bush that burns without going out. We are called to exercise a ministry that permits this Word of Life to spread so that everyone in every part of the world can grasp its profound meaning in such a way as to obtain salvation. In a time like ours filled with attempts to marginalize the sacred texts as bearers of meaning only insofar as they are myths , with no historical character and destined only for the naïve, it is important that they find the necessary forms to restore historical value and provocativeness about the sense of existence. We really are faced with a teaching emergency that brings back to the center of our life of faith the theme of salvation. Again Dei Verbum reminds us how much has been transmitted and written on the “salvation announcement” (DV 7). The various cultural tendencies present in the modern world have not only perverted the meaning of salvation but they have marginalized it as useless and illusionary. Representing the Word of God in its totality means pointing the scope of its teaching towards the theme of our salvation.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Filippo SANTORO, Bishop of Petrópolis (BRAZIL)
1.The Word of God is a fact: it is the person of Jesus Christ whom the Apostles met as he walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and whom the Church proclaims as one who can be met today in the paths of our life.
There is a challenge that this announcement has to overcome; the challenge is above all anthropological. And that is does this fact shows it is able to overcome space and time as something that does not fade away, that does not wear out and answers the desires of a man’s heart in a unique and singular way. Experience shows that things sparkle then fade with time: the Ancient Greek poet Mimnermus said “like the leaves that germinate spring” and along with him Arnault, Leopardi and the literature of all times. The ego also fades and what fascinated us loses its value with time, it is consumed orit no longer attracts us. The big question, which cannot be denied even by contemporary culture, is: does something exist that can fully realizes the needs of our hearts and that lasts in time, forever.
2. The dynamic of Incarnation presents us with the other challenge that it is important to study: the challenge of method. The Word made flesh indicates not only a content of salvation, but also a method by which the Apostles start to understand themselves. In the meeting with Jesus, something is awoken in them which had previously been sleeping and they begin to see the possibility of something positive in their future. The method drawn from Incarnation is, a theme which was developed in great depth by Father Giussani, witnessing the event in which the miracle occurs. In all the biblical meetings with John, Andrew, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan ... by following that man it was possible to encounter more, destiny, the Father. This same method continues after the resurrection through the meeting with the visible body of Christ, the Church, with Peter as its head.
During the V Conference of Aparecida, Latin American Bishops referred back to the opening speech by Pope Benedict in saying: “The very nature of Christianity consists, therefore, in recognizing the presence of Christ and in following Him. That was the marvelous experience enjoyed by the first disciples who, meeting Jesus, were fascinated and amazed by the exceptional person who spoke to them and who was able to provide answers for the hunger and thirst for life in their hearts. John the Evangelist gave us a graphic description of the powerful effect which Jesus had on the first two disciples John and Andrew when they first met Him. Everything began with the question “What do you want?” (Jn 1:38). This was followed by the invitation to live a new experience “Come and see.” (Jn 1:39) This description will remain in history as the only synthesis of the Christian method”. (244)
For this reason, as part of the current discussion on extraordinary ministries, we would like to make the observation that they, alone, cannot provoke the meeting, but can rather lead to an increase in bureaucratization in the Church. Only the action of the Spirit can call the meeting, and as Lumen Gentium 12 says, is at the source of hierarchical and charismatic gifts. Through charisms the Spirit shows how attractive is the face of Christ even for mankind today, arousing the sequence of the Word made flesh.
[Original text: Italian]