Written Synod Interventions

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here are summaries of the interventions submitted in writing to 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." The texts were not presented in the synod hall, but rather distributed in written form.

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-- Rev. Father Adolfo NICOLÁS, S.I., Superior General of the Society of Jesus (SPAIN)

In these days of the Synod we have heard a good number of those aspects that make the Holy Scriptures such a precious gift from God.
And yet we continue to feel that there will always be new or unanswered. The questions that reach us most often are of a pastoral character. The people of God continue to ask the pastoral question: How can we read the Scriptures so that they produce in us, in our hearts, in our families and in our communities all the good effects that Christian Tradition has proclaimed through the Centuries?

Allow me to address just one concrete aspect within the wider pastoral breadth of the question. This aspect is the so-called "Medicinal" or "Transforming" power of the Word of God. It is my conviction that the Word of God can claim in a high degree a ''therapeutic'' role in the life of the Christian community.

Every time we "enter" the World of the Bible, we are exposed to a New World: God's World; God's action; God's teaching of his people. The encounter, if real, can be shocking, surprising, enlightening, soothing or consoling. lt can also be misunderstood and lost.

Thus the conditions of the encounter are all important. Pastors and Ministers of the Word have to become good helpers for good and fruitful encounters. We need to know where people really are(diagnosis); we need the skills for presenting the Word (teaching, preaching, biblical catechesis); we are expected to be good company in the search for depth (contemplation); and we are ordained or commissioned for good Christian leadership (service of love for community and Christian living).

Which means that Pastors and Ministers of the Word need training for good diagnosis, for wise application of forms of reading, for deeper prayer and interiorization of the Word of God, and for a meaningful accompaniment that helps the faithful discern the action of the Spirit in and through the reading of the Bible.

Since this is a fine skill that requires deep spiritual sense, adequate training and discerned commissioning, it seems highly needed that this training be included in the preparation for pastoral minis1ry and in programs of ongoing formation for all Priests. Moreover all Parishes and/or Dioceses should have access to Centers or Trained persons that can offer this service to individuals or communities and who can train catechists and other lay ministers in this important service.

[Original text: English]

-- H. Em. Card. Varkey VITHAYATHIL, C.SS.R., Archbishop Major of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church (INDIA)

As the Instrumentum laboris n. 43 says, "Proclaiming the Gospel is the raison d'être of the Church and her mission." This is true not only of the Universal Church, but also of the individual Churches. Every individual Church or which is called the sui iuris Church exists for proclaiming the Gospel, through her unique and rich heritage or patrimony of liturgy, theology, spirituality and discipline. Moreover, evangelization and pastoral care are two integral dimensions of one and the same mission -- preaching the Gospel to the whole world. Without pastoral care, those evangelized cannot be formed into a community of believers and cannot be nourished in their faith through the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments.

Even though the right of every individual Church to preach the Gospel everywhere in the world under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff (OE 3, CD 25) and the right of all the faithful of the Oriental Churches to have pastoral care by their own bishops and priests throughout the world are recognized by the Second Vatican Council and the two Codes of Canon Law (CI C 383 §2 and CCEO 148 and 193), the Syro-Malabar Church is neither given new mission territories in India, Africa, etc., nor the freedom to exercise her right to give pastoral care by her own bishops and priests to the hundreds of thousands of migrants in India, in the Gulf Countries, Europe and elsewhere even after forty-three years of the conclusion oft he Second Vatican Council.

For me this is a grave injustice. At the same time we know that the Word of God is a Word of justice as the Instrumentum laboris states in several places. As our Holy Father, Benedict XVI teaches us in his Encyclical Letter, Spe salvi, "the Christian message was not only "informative" but "performative" (Spe salvi 2). This means that it is not enough to proclaim the Word of God in its authenticity, but must be lived by the people. The Church has not only to preach the Word of justice to the faithful, but they should be pastorally helped to live by it. It is more so when it concerns practising justice within the Church. Peace is disturbed when justice is not done, because peace is the fruit of justice.

Justice will also build up communion. In the case of the Syro-Malabar Church, this justice has been denied for many centuries. It is high time that this Synod reflected over this unjust situation within the Church and proposed lasting remedies.

[Original text: English]

-- H. Em. Card. Leonardo SANDRI, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churchs (VATICAN CITY)

1. I thank the Lord and the Church for the powerful return to the Word of God, thanks to the impulse of Vatican Council II. That was a Biblical renewal according to the Life-Giving Tradition of the Church. That renewal is still ongoing, and it may receive helpful stimuli from the Synod.I thank the Holy Father for this convocation that involves us in a collegial discipleship dealing with the Divine Word. Making ourselves listeners to and disciples of Christ, who speaks in the Church (Ipse loquitur duro sacrae Scripturae in Ecclesia leguntur ... SC 7), we offer the highest example of our being “Christian shepherds”: the Word of God is the evangelical gate by which we enter the fold. Whoever does not enter by this gate is a hired man not a shepherd (cf Jn 10:2).

So we say thank you to God and to the Church for Dei Verbum whose profundity and relevance we recognize. In the Instrumentum Laboris we find precious pointers. We would hope, nonetheless, to find in the final document a connecting thread that efficiently organizes its content.

2. Constant personal and community commitment in favor of all Biblical initiatives in the academic field, such as in ordinary Catholic education and making the daily pastoral an act of obedience to the Word, are to be encouraged in attachment to the Word. The Word of God will always lead us to the Sacrament, especially the Holy Eucharist, from which springs forth ecclesial communion. From the perspective of daily obedience, I would like to highlight the importance of the further study and personal appropriation of the Word of God after the liturgical proclamation.

3. The priority of Biblical formation in all the categories of the people of God should be reaffirmed. The criterio princeps, though, in the approach to the Biblical sciences should be that they do not negate, through their sometimes exaggerated criticism, the sense of an existential meeting with Christ. What is indispensable, therefore, is the zeal of the shepherds, above all in the homily, and in order not to extinguish the prophetic charge of the Word of God, we have to insist that it never transforms itself into an opportunity for secular or even personal argumentation, and that it be the moment of highest obedience to the Word in a true sense for the preachers of the Word. Formation in the seminaries and ordinary updating of the clergy and of us bishops remain a priority and should be accompanied by the “prayerful” Biblical spirituality, in which we decide ever more each day to look for and find Christ and with Him the brothers we should lead with us on a daily basis in obedience to the faith.

4. The prayerful gaze will help us to find the right balance in the consideration of the election of ancient and modern Israel, and the mystery of the call to all the peoples. Thus the Word of God becomes an ecumenical and inter-religious path; a path for cultural dialogue with those who do not recognize themselves in any religion. A highway to confront the grave and urgent challenges of our times in the service of man and his dignity, liberty and peace. It is even capable of drawing today from the chaos of post-modern thought, with its heavy relativist and nihilist impetus, good soil for a humanity that, thanks to thinking of Christ drawn from the Scriptures, loves, hopes and works towards a future based on solidarity. Faced with the apparently unstoppable drive of the sects in every continent, most notably active in Europe and the Americas, the Word of God will stem the flow of confusion and compose better prospects for the future.

5. The Eastern Churches were able to evangelize cultures that were very far from the thinking of Christ and generate admirable liturgical, theological and spiritual traditions, lived by disciples who were faithful to the point of martyrdom. I render homage to those who remain faithful to the Word of Christ, especially in the East, in the darkest adversities of the present, and I unhesitatingly invite the Synodal Fathers to pray as brothers and as shepherds for the present and future of the Christian East. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]