Synod Propositions 31-35
Conclusions of Episcopal Assembly on Word of God
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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here are translations of the synodal propositions 31-35, which were submitted to Benedict XVI at the end of the world Synod of Bishops on the "Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church," held in October at the Vatican.
ZENIT will publish a translation of the remaining propositions in subsequent services.
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Word of God and priests
The Word of God is indispensable to form the heart of a good pastor, minister of the Word. To this end, "Pastores Dabo Vobis" recalls: "The priest must be the first 'believer' of the Word, with full consciousness that the words of his ministry are not 'his' but of him who has sent him. He is not the owner of this Word; he is servant. He is not the sole owner of this Word; he is debtor vis-à-vis the People of God" (John Paul II, post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis," 26). Priests, especially parish priests, are called to nourish themselves every day with the sacred Scriptures and to communicate them with wisdom and generosity to the faithful entrusted to their care.
Formation of candidates to holy orders
Candidates to the priesthood must learn to love the Word of God. Therefore, Scripture should be the soul of their theological formation, underlining the indispensable circularity between exegesis, theology, spirituality and mission. Hence, the formation of priests should include multiple approaches to Scripture.
-- Prayerful reading of "lectio divina," both personal as well as in community, in the framework of a first reading of the Bible. It will be necessary to continue it during the whole process of formation, taking into account what the Church establishes in regard to retreats and spiritual exercises in the education of seminarians.
-- Nourish himself assiduously with the Word of God, also through the richness of the Divine Office.
-- The discovery of exegesis in its various methods. A precise and ample study is necessary of the hermeneutical rules to overcome the risks of an arbitrary interpretation. The methods of the exegesis must be understood in an appropriate manner, with its possibilities and limits, allowing for correct and fruitful understanding of the Word of God.
-- Knowledge of the history of what produced the reading of the Scriptures in the Fathers of the Church, the saints, the doctors and the masters of spirituality down to our day.
-- Intensification, during the seminary years, of the formation for preaching, and vigilance of permanent formation during the exercise of the ministry, so that the homily can speak to those who hear it (cf. Acts 2:37).
-- Parallel to formation in the seminary, future priests will be invited to take part in meetings with lay groups or associations, gathered around the Word of God. These meetings, held during a sufficiently long amount of time, will foster in future ministers the experience and taste for hearing what the Holy Spirit inspires in believers gathered as Church, whether they are young or old. Serious study of philosophy must not be neglected; it will lead to evaluate with clarity the assumptions and implications contained in the various hermeneutics applied to the study of the Bible (cf. "Optatam Totius," 15).
To this end, it is hoped that philosophic and cultural thought (art and music) open to transcendence will be addressed and taught in philosophic faculties, so that disciples can hear and understand better the Word of God, the only one that can satisfy the desires of the human heart (cf. "Fides et Ratio," 83).
What is hoped for is a renewal of academic programs (cf. John Paul II, apostolic constitution "Sapientia Christiana") so that the systematic study of theology in the light of sacred Scripture is manifested better.
Moreover, a revision of the courses in seminaries and in houses of formation must take care that the Word of God has its due place in the various dimensions of formation.
Biblical formation of Christians
Love of the Bible is a grace of the Holy Spirit that permeates the whole life of the believer. Hence, Christians must be formed in appreciation of this gift of God. "If you knew the gift of God" (John 4:10), says the Lord.
Hence, it is hoped that in each cultural region centers of formation will be established for the laity and for missionaries of the Word, where they learn to understand, live and proclaim the Word of God. Moreover, that institutes specialized in biblical studies are created so that exegetes may have solid theological understanding and sensibility to the contexts of their mission. This can also be done by a re-examination or reinforcement of existing structures, such as seminaries and faculties.
Finally, it is necessary to offer adequate formation in biblical tongues to persons who are translators of the Bible into various modern languages.
Promoting the Bible among the youth
As Jesus invited a youth to follow him, so the invitation must be proposed again today to boys, adolescents and young men so that they can find the answer to their search in the word of the Lord. In promoting the Bible among youth, Benedict XVI's invitation will be taken into account: "Dear young people, I exhort you to acquire familiarity with the Bible, to have it at hand so that it will be for you as a compass that indicates the path to follow (Message to the 20th World Youth Day, April 9, 2006). It is hoped that Scripture will be presented in its vocational implications, so that it will help and orient many young people in their vocational decision, even up to total consecration. That the Christian community receive, hear and support the young generations with love, so that they are initiated in knowledge of the Scriptures by educators, true and impassioned witnesses of the Word of God. In this way, that young people may also be led to love and communicate the Gospel, above all to their contemporaries.
Bible and health ministry
During his life, Jesus took care of and healed the sick and showed in this service of his a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God (cf. Luke 7:22). Yet today, Scriptures continue to offer the sick and all those who suffer a word of consolation and encouragement, and also of spiritual and physical healing. The prayer of the Psalms touches one profoundly and gives each one the very words of God to express their own suffering, and also their own hope. Hence, the synodal fathers exhort all those who approach persons afflicted by all sorts of evil to take to them humbly but audaciously the vivifying Word of the Lord Jesus both in Scripture as well as in the Eucharist. Indispensable also today is that the Word of God inspire the whole of health pastoral care, leading the sick to discover through faith that their suffering makes them capable of participating in the redeeming suffering of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:8-11. 14).
[Translation by ZENIT]