Synod Interventions of 14th General Congregation
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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here are summaries of the interventions given this morning at the 14th general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is underway in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."
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-- H. Em. Card. Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B., Secretary of State (VATICAN CITY)
"My dear young friends, I urge you to become familiar with the Bible, and to have it at hand so that it can be your compass pointing out the road to follow." This is the practical conclusion to Pope Benedict XVI's Message to the youth of the world on the occasion of World Youth Day in 2006. This message confirms the one given at World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005 and was further developed by the Holy Father during a meeting with young Christians in Saint Peter's Square on 6 April 2006 when a young man asked what place the Bible should have in the lives of a young believer.
The three statements show a precise belief by the Pope: if the Holy Book is consulted with due attention, young believers will find an indispensable guide (compass); and that the meeting with the Bible will also become a meeting with Christ.
A moat to cross
By itself, the Bible cannot rouse particular interest and affection in the young, especially adolescents. Compared to the living testimony of a believer, a faith transmitted through the Holy Scripture largely provokes only indifference, indifference which is accompanied by a large dose of ignorance and above all by a great difficulty in perceiving its vital value. Among all those who practically never come into personal contact with the Bible (80% of Italians) the highest numbers are for teenagers between 14 and 19. Only 13% of these consider that "those who believe in God should read and meditate on the Bible and other sacred texts," placing holy reading only 11th out of 16 activities. 7% actually "pray while reading and meditating on the Bible or other religious texts." (Cf. La religiosita in Italia - various authors - Mondadori - Milan 1995)
Nevertheless, one notices that many of these young people show a surprising interest in the Bible when the syncrony is reached not as much, at least in the beginning, through the authority of a Biblical page called the Word of God, but by adults working who go to them as patient teachers and credible witnesses of the greatest figure, who is Jesus; in other words, people who when they say the Word of God, demonstrate it with their own life. If the adult as teacher-friend manages to persuade the youth to open their heart, then the Scripture will be seen as a gift which brings with it all the qualities of the Word of God according to Biblical codification, with special concern for the youth's soul. In this way young people will grow and appreciate the role played by the young in the Bible, especially in the Gospels; they will put Jesus in their "diary of the soul" (we have seen many examples in young people's diaries); they will also appreciate the many sporting images in the Bible with their original applications for the virtuous life. (Eg. Michel Quoist)
From the long address by Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square mentioned above, which astonished everyone by its clarity and certitude, we may draw up a pedagogical approach that the Holy Father summarized as follows: "I think that we should learn to do three things: to read it in a personal colloquium with the Lord; to read it with the guidance of teachers who have the experience of faith, who have penetrated Sacred Scripture: and to read it in the great company of the Church, in whose liturgy these events never cease to become present anew and in which the Lord speaks with us today. Thus, we may gradually penetrate ever more deeply into Sacred Scripture, in which God truly speaks to us today.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H. B. Card. Emmanuel III DELLY, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church (IRAQ)
I am a son of the land of Abraham, Iraq. I am sure that the major part of this blessed assembly wishes to have some information about the situation of Iraq, this tortured and bloodied country.
My intervention will not be a political reading, but the short flashback of a father who lives with his spiritual sons for the last half century and who sees his citizens suffering and dying. A father who feels the sacred duty to defend the rights of the Church and of her faithful and feels his own duty to admonish those responsible for the situation to follow the just paths of peace and security. Let us say the truth: we have tried everything to obtain peace and serenity for the country.
The situation in some parts of Iraq is disastrous and tragic. Life is a calvary: peace and security are lacking , just as the fundamental elements in daily life. Electricity, water, fuel continue to be lacking; telephone communication is always more difficult, whole roads are blocked, schools either closed or in a continuous danger, hospitals function with a reduced staff, the people fear for their own safety. All fear kidnapping, abduction and intimidation. What to say then about all these unjustified kidnappings that occur every day, ruining entire families and depriving them of their dear ones, despite having paid over thousands of dollars for a freedom never given. Not to mention the ever growing number of deaths caused by car bombs and kamikazes wearing explosive belts.
To live the Word of God means to us to bear witness to it to the cost of our own lives, as has occurred and still occurs till now with the sacrifice of the bishops, priests and faithful. They remained in Iraq, strong in faith and love of Christ, thanks to the fire of the Word of God. Because of this, I beg of you to pray the Lord Jesus, the Word of God, for us and with us, and share our concern, our hopes and the suffering of our wounded, so that the Word of God made flesh stay in His Church and with us as a good news and as support. Sixteen of our priests and two bishops have been kidnapped and were released after paying a very high ransom. Some of them belong to a line of new martyrs that today pray for us from the Heavens: the Archbishop of Mosul, Faraj Rahho, Father Raghid Ganni, other two priests and other six young persons.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Marian GOŁĘBIEWSKI, Archbishop of Wrocław, Breslavia (POLAND)
For a number of decades the historical-critical method has been a dominant approach in Biblical exegesis. This method has led to many positive fruits in Bible Studies. It has been noted today though that this method is insufficient. This is why in the last few years other methods of research on the inspired text have been developed. Among these, linguistic methods - narrative and structural, as well as the reading of the Bible in the spirit of the psychology of the profound, become more important. The request to treat all methods as complementary and not treat any one as dominant seems reasonable. Thus the results of exegetic research will reveal to the eyes of the reader the multidimensional sense of the analyzed fragment. This will permit the discovery of many meanings and not just one. However, the duty of the exegete does not end in uncovering that multidimensional sense of the fragment analyzed (literal, historical, symbolic, allegorical and spiritual). A very practical question remains: how to connect that text whose meaning has now been discovered to the lives of each believer and entire ecclesial communities? How to pass from the text to life and from life to the text? The contemporary reader of the Bible asks exegetes and theologians to learn to draw principles and criteria from Scripture, which should be binding in the single areas of personal and community life. The most important of these would be demonstrated as being the principles and criteria of a general nature; from these more detailed principles have to be drawn, capable of answering the questions raised by bioethicists, environmentalists, doctors, psychologists, sociologists and even politicians. Movement in the opposite direction is also important: from life to the Bible. It becomes evermore a clearer request that not only does the believer read the Bible but that the Bible become the interpretive factor in his life, that is, that the Bible should "read" the human being. The believer needs to not only draw the principles for actions from the Sacred Scripture but also how to look at oneself in the Bible as in a mirror.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Petro Herkulan MALCHUK, O.F.M., Titular Bishop of Media, Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopo (UKRAINE)
In my report I refer to point 21 where it is said that in light of Vatican Council II and successive Magisterium, necessary attention must be paid to and specific reflection given to Biblical senses, that is historical-literal and theological-spiritual.
A situation where those whom the word is aimed at allows us to see that one group discovers the historical-literal sense and stops, while others go on to discover the theological-spiritual sense. The main point therefore of my intervention is the theological-spiritual sense.
Saint Jerome said and Vatican II repeated; "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the same Spirit in whom it was written"... "they must be read and interpreted with the help of the Holy Spirit through whom they were written".
It seems ridiculous, but sometimes it happens, that the very people called to the service of the Word can be an impediment to it. The rosary every day before Holy Mass, all year? No! There's the month of October, you can pray the rosary then and leave it at that. Who ever did the Stations of the Cross every day of Lent? Friday is sufficient. Confession once a month? Once a year is plenty. Thus the Prayed Word and the Word that gives life, that is Confession, come to be lost.
See how topical the admonition of Saint Francis was when he said to his brothers: "the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth."They are killed by the letter who seek only to know the words that they may be esteemed more learned among others and that they may acquire great riches to leave to their relations and friends. And those religious are killed by the letter who will not follow the spirit of the Holy Scriptures, but who seek rather to know the words only and to interpret them to others. And they are quickened by the spirit of the Holy Scriptures who do not interpret materially every text they know or wish to know, but who by word and example give them back to God from whom is all good."
Therefore, my proposition is, pay more attention not only to the official documents of the Church but above all grant the proper place in pastoral life to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Make use of it and put it to work especially in the seminaries and pastoral activities. The analysis highlights the fact that in the communities and especially in the parishes where Confession is missing, attendance drops and spirituality becomes less profound.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Ruy RENDÓN LEAL, Bishop Prelate of El Salto (MEXICO)
First of all, we find the Word of God in the Sacred Scriptures, when with faith and humility we receive and bring it into prayer. God speaks to us through the created works, as well as through the Liturgy, above all the Eucharistic Celebration. Other presences of the Salvific Word can be found in what is occurring in the Magisterium of the Church and in our neighbor, especially the most poor and the suffering ones.
1. Finding and listening to the Word. The Church must favor, in its Pastoral, the reading and the knowledge of the Bible. All of us, the baptized, must commit ourselves and others to be inspired to a deep encounter with Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of the Father, to achieve a growth of the strong experience of God and a true conversion. This encounter with the Word requires attentive listening, with the heart.
2.Praying and celebrating the Word. Through different methods, in particular with the Lectio divina, the Word which is brought into prayer becomes the source of living water for us. Equally in the Liturgy of the Word, well prepared and well celebrated, of all the sacramental celebrations, the Word proclaimed with its redeeming strength is able to transform the lives of the believers.
3. Living and transmitting the Word. Contemporary society demands of us Christians that we witness what we are and what we do. It is not sufficient to call us Christian Catholics, it is not sufficient to pray and participate to the Sacrament. The witness of unity and life suitable with the Gospel should be the distinctive signs of all the baptized. The commitment to share our experience of faith will undoubtedly lead us to transmitting in our words, our works and our behavior the Word of God to others.
[Original text: Spanish]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Angelo AMATO, S.D.B., Titular Archbishop of Sila, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (VATICAN CITY)
Jesus says: "Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mt 11:29) For more than 2,000 years men and women, old and young, wise and ignorant, in the East as in the West, applied themselves to the school of the Lord Jesus, which caused this sublime commandment to echo in their hearts and minds: "You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5:48). This does not mean that a man-made perfection is the goal to be reached, rather it is the heights of divine perfection. With simplicity and humility, even youth - like fourteen-year-old Domenico Savio and thirteen-year-old Laura Vicuña - have taken the Lord's words seriously and taken up the path towards sainthood.
Their library was largely composed of the life and the Words of Jesus: blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the gentle, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who are persecuted. The saints, understanding that the Beatitudes are the essence of the Gospel and the portrait of Christ Himself, became their imitators.
Yesterday four new saints from three different continents were canonized,. Among these was a young nun, Sister Alfonsa Muttathypadathu, the first Indian saint, a noble figure of a joyful and strong woman. The perfection of her sanctity was also measured by the words of Jesus: "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mk 8:34).Sister Alfonsa accepted her physical illnesses and moral afflictions - such as incomprehension and contempt - living sine glossa her own via crucis following the Lord Jesus. At the end of her short existence, Sister Alfonsa could repeat with Saint Paul: "It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church (Col 1:24). As it was yesterday, today, too, there are countless faithful who convert the words of Christ into flesh and blood every day. And in so doing, they sanctify themselves..
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Marin BARIŠIĆ, Archbishop of Split-Makarska (CROATIA)
The local language has been used in the liturgy in the Croatian Church since the ninth century. The Encounter between the Word of God and the local language can be reflected by the Croatian word " posteno" - which means honest, human, sincere and just. This word comes from "po-stenju" that is to say according to the reading. The norms of human life came from attentive reading and hearing of the Word of God (Instrumentum laboris no. 27).
This human and Christian lifestyle arises from the Word of God, whose identity is reflected and expressed in the Hearing Church, the Church in Prayer and the Serving Church.
The hearing Church corresponds and responds to the Word of God, able to hear the specific problems of our times (cf. GS 1), just as it can give the Word that is apt and necessary to the world and the culture of today.
The creative and renewing power of the Word should be discovered, in a special way, in the liturgical celebration. From this source, the Word enters into daily life.
What the Church hears and celebrates is translated into the evangelizing mission. The fullness of joy that comes from obedient hearing and from the celebration of the Word of God cannot leave us dumbfounded, rather it must transform us into hopeful protagonists of the credibility of the Gospel, to live "posteno" - according to the reading.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Javier ECHEVARRÍA RODRÍGUEZ, Titular Bishop of Cilibia, Prelate of Opus Dei
In the life of the saints the meeting with Word of God through the reading of Holy Scripture produced a radical existential change We must all, priests and lay persons, seek to have a profound thirst for Jesus Christ, living every scene from the Gospel as one character among the others. The Bible calls for the faithful interlocutor to provide a reply: the reply of prayer. It is appropriate for we pastors during the sacrament of Confession to frequently advise the faithful to read the Gospel, teaching how to participate in what is told there and urging those who confess to give the same advice to colleagues, family members and friends.
It is not enough to think upon ideas or scenes that may arouse our admiration for the truth, goodness or beauty they reflect; what all we Christians must do, like the saints, is seek to bring these texts into our daily, personal life so that it may be transformed. Men and women have ever greater and more urgent need not of vain and ephemeral words but of the Word of God, the only one capable of giving an authentic meaning to life. It would be advantageous to promote initiatives fostering the spread of this attitude of prayer and interior concentration towards the Gospel, so that real impact on our daily life can be made. Furthermore I believe it would also be appropriate to make sure that the texts of the Mass are read well, that is to say truly lived, not as rhetoric but with the certainty that God is speaking to them and to the community.
[Original text: Italian]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Kurt KOCH, Bishop of Basel, Bâle, Basilea (SWITZERLAND)
"The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord" (DV 21). In general, this orientation still was not understood enough by religious conscience, as can be seen above all by today's four central points.
1. In Switzerland and in Europe in general, many members of the Church are baptized catechumens, to whom not only the language of faith in the Church, but also the Biblical world is foreign. Because of this, today, not only is there a need for new ways to reach the Word of God, but the entire pastoral ministry must be, in a decisive way, a pastoral ministry of evangelization and cannot continue being only a pastoral ministry of sacramentalization.
2. The Holy Scripture can be spoken about only if the Church is also spoken about as subject of the same. Thus, we touch upon the central ecumenical point. In this area, the dispute concerns the ecclesiastic institutes, such as the magisterium and the ministry itself. The controversial question is that of the relationship between the Word of God and the witnesses of those entrusted officially with this word.
3. Not only in the general acknowledgment of the faith, but also in the reflections, one perceives evermore Marcionistic tendencies, inasmuch as the unity of the Old and New Testament seems to have become fragile. However, Christianity could learn a great deal from Judaism, as for example a less forced approach to Scripture and Tradition, since for the Jews the Hebraic Bible is not merely a printed book, rather it is a living book.
4. In inter-religious dialogue, today, the Holy Scriptures of men is openly spoken of. Thus, one forgets that Christianity is not, first of all, a religion of the Book, like Judaism and Islam. In fact, the Word of God is a Person, the Son of God made man, and thereby precedes Holy Scripture. Without an intimate relationship in friendship with this Person, even the letter of the Holy Scripture remains mute. The representation of the Word of God in the life of the Church, therefore, is upheld and demonstrated with the renewal in the faith in Christ today.
[Original text: German]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Joseph NGUYÊN CHI LINH, Bishop of Thanh Hóa (VIETNAM)
Last Friday, my dear Vietnamese brother, His Excellency Joseph Vo Duc Minh, gave a summarized history of the evangelization of our people. I would like to continue his report by referring to number 28 of the Instrumentum laboris, beginning with the support role of the Word of God in the history of the Church, to show how this role was achieved in the life of the Church in Vietnam.
The Gospel was proclaimed for the first time on our land at the beginning of the 16th century in the painful context of an internal war between two kingdoms ruled by brothers who were enemies. Marvelously, thanks to this coincidence, it became of great comfort for the first baptized persons and ever since, it has not ceased being the moral and spiritual support, the principle for enrichment for the Church in Vietnam, one of the most suffering ones due to bloody and consecutive persecutions. Embarking on this history, woven by hatred, ideological wars and discriminatory restrictions, our Christians are more and more convinced that only the Word of God can keep them in love, joy, peace, communion and tolerance.
It is painful for me to tell you that Vietnam, until now, is in first place concerning abortions. However, this catastrophe, paradoxically, inspired the "Pro Vita" movement among Catholics, mainly consisting in looking for the aborted babies in the hospitals, baptizing them if there is any sign of life, creating cemeteries to bury them. At the beginning, these actions were accused by the civil authorities and the hospital management as crimes, obliging the Catholics to act clandestinely. Now, it is still not authorized, but it is at least tolerated. Some film makers even made documentaries about this and reporters praise these efforts in the media. Why this progress? Answer: we better recognize the witness of the Christians, those that live the Word of God and under the light of this Word, one respects life. I would like to repeat this certitude, mentioned in Gaudium et Spes, number 44: "Indeed, the Church admits that she has greatly profited and still profits from the antagonism of those who oppose or who persecute her".
Another sign worthy of being mentioned to show that the Word of God continues to support the Church in Vietnam. This would be the mass conversion of the thousands of persons of the ethnic minorities shortly after the canonization of the 117 Martyrs of Vietnam in 1988. What is curious about this is that many admitted to listening to the Protestant Radio in Manila, in the Philippines, but converted to Catholicism in Vietnam. Thus, the Protestants sow the seed and the Catholics harvest. The Word of God echoing from afar, reaching their ears, has become the source of hope for these persons lost in the mountains, deprived of all and without a future.
In conclusion, I would like, as a Vietnamese Christian, to repeat the certitude that in persecutions, our greatest grace is faithfulness to the Word of God.
[Original text: French]
-- H.E. Most. Rev. Juan MATOGO OYANA, C.M.F., Bishop of Bata (EQUATORIAL GUINEA)
Geographically, Equatorial Guinea occupies a favorable position which, already in the 15th century, facilitated the arrival of some missionaries. Just four centuries later, evangelists had established themselves in the country. Given the small dimensions of the country, it was very easy for them to bring the Word to all inhabitants,
Having passed this period of evangelization, we faced, as other peoples, the challenge to deepen the study of the Good News which we had received. More specifically, how were we to illuminate our cultural roots and our traditions with the light of the Gospel so as to become the "new man" to which Christ calls us. And how were we to escape, with all our brothers, from poverty and move toward better conditions of life, without fatalistic pessimism or selfish materialism, so as to live with dignity as children of Christ. In this double effort, there is no shortage of voices or realities that show the way offering various attractive options which claim to be the right solution in every moment. But their proposals follow one after another, because they immediately reveal themselves as incomplete, as ephemeral.
The Authorized Word. Being Christian, according to their own roots and cultural traditions means they must be enlightened by the Gospel. And this is possible only when the footsteps of the person who taught us to suitable privilege both sides are followed closely. And this is why He said, on the one hand, "Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.."(Mt 5:17) and on the other, "You have heard how it was said ...But I say ..."(Mt 5:21at seg) In the same way, escaping from poverty, in solidarity with our brothers, moving away as much from fatal pessimism as from egoistic materialism, implies rooting ourselves in Him who said "For wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be too" (Lk 12:34)
The permanent task of evangelists. We must therefore imitate the Sower who abundantly spreads the seed of Word (cf Mt 13:1 et seg.). Not only that, we must make our request of the vine dresser who seeks new opportunities and offers himself for the development of new strategies in order to more intensely support the growth of the planted seed and, consequently, to be able to await with faith the corresponding fruit (cf Lk 13: 8-9).
[Original text: Spanish]