Synod: Sixteenth Congregation

 Yesterday afternoon in the Vatican's Synod Hall, the Sixteenth General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held. The "Relatio post disceptationem" ("Report after the Discussion," a summary of the contributions made during earlier congregations) was presented, and speeches were delivered by auditors and Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo and 239 Synod Fathers were present. The Relatio was presented by Cardinal Angelo Scola, relator general of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly, who began by recalling the fact that John Paul II wished to dedicate this Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to the theme: "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." He also recalled the meditation with which Pope Benedict XVI opened the First General Congregation. The cardinal affirmed that he had not written "a synthesis, but rather a collage of the interventions, due to the vastness of the themes dealt with and the sensitivities involved." The introduction of the Relatio, he said, shows "the basic orientation that emerged, in a general sense, from the interventions: overcoming any dualism between doctrine and pastoral care, between theology and liturgy." Following are excerpts from six speeches delivered by auditors, and one by a Synod Father: LEONARDO CASCO, PRESIDENT OF THE "ALIANZA PARA LA FAMILIA," HONDURAS. "Given that reality tells us that a huge number of Catholics in the world today have no exact knowledge of the doctrinal principles of the faith they profess, living what could be called (to use a fashionable term) 'light' Catholicism, it would appear indispensable, 40 years after the conclusion of the Vatican Council II, to find ... a formula giving the lay faithful basic doctrinal, ethical and moral formation, as well as an awareness of the importance of belonging to the unique Church of Christ and the pride, in a positive sense, of being Catholic. ... I consider it equally necessary that bishops and priests should have no hesitation in joyfully proposing to the lay faithful a life of demanding and robust faith. ... I refer not only to insisting on attendance at Sunday Mass, but also in recommending daily practices of piety, ranging from the offering of works in the morning, to praying the Angelus and the Holy Rosary, to - and why not? - daily Mass whenever possible. On the basis of my personal experience, I can say that when these practices of piety are continually proposed and carried out, without respite and without fatigue, the fruits are harvested almost immediately, leading the lay faithful to live in an atmosphere of faith which improves them as much in their personal as in the supernatural lives. ... My speech here may be summarized as a call to infuse, with renewed enthusiasm, the lay faithful with the committed spirit of the early Christians, that is to say: recourse to prayer and sacrifice, the daily practice of fundamental norms of piety, and insistence on the duties and rights of all those faithful to apostolate." MARTHA LORENA ALVARADO DE CASCO, PRESIDENT OF THE "COMITE POR LA VIDA," HONDURAS. "As a wife, mother, sister, daughter and grandmother, I feel that, from early childhood, women should receive a formation that prepares them for the development of the two essential sides of their character: femininity and the gift of motherhood. ... Sadly, in recent decades, women have slowly lost the true meaning of their identity and, hence, the real sense of their Christian mission. ... There is much to be done for women; nonetheless, with great respect, I propose the following: As far as possible, separate education for boys and girls should be maintained, in order to create an atmosphere favourable to the formation of girls in the image of the Virgin Mary, model for every woman. Studies have been carried out showing that separate education for boys and girls helps, among other things, the educational process and the development of a healthy affectivity, especially in adolescence. ... Furthermore, separate education facilitates a rise in vocations to religious life and, consequently, in priestly vocations among men. I would also like to place before your attention the possibility of insisting on the creation of youth groups aimed specifically at girls, with the aim of strengthening their feminine condition and their spiritual and doctrinal formation. ... Finally, I think it would be a wonderful experience to promote the adoration by families of Jesus in the Sacrament, in parishes on selected days of the week. I also feel, as has been said in various interventions, that it is important to facilitate confession among the lay faithful, and appropriate to use the confessional booth when one is dealing with women of any age, for many reasons." BR. MARC HAYET, GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE LITTLE BROTHERS OF JESUS, FRANCE. "I would like to make a request. Let us pay attention to the way we speak. If we talk about our world mainly in terms of 'culture of death,' is this not a lack of respect to people trying to live their faith in God or their faith in man by giving themselves up for the service of life, from fathers and mothers to people involved in political or social life? This world is also the place of all generosity and all commitment, sometimes at the cost of life. And it is this varied world, and no other, that the Father loves, to which He gave His Son (the Eucharist reminds us of this), and where His Spirit works. ... Men and women today only listen to Word of the Gospel if it is presented as a proposal for their freedom, in a real dialogue where we respect their search (for meaning) and accept their competence and experience of life, including that of the poorest who are rich in humanity. Perhaps the humble sign of bread and wine, accessible to everybody and understandable by everybody, invites us to this dialogue." SR. RITA BURLEY, A.C.I., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE HANDMAIDENS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, UNITED KINGDOM. "The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ... hold at the heart of their life the celebration of the Eucharist. ... The invitation of Christ 'to do this is memory of me' is lived by prolonging the grace of the celebration in Eucharistic adoration and in apostolic work which communicates the experience of God's redemptive love. ... 'There is no true celebration or adoration of the Eucharist that does not lead to mission.' ... Our desire is to be women and communities of compassion and communion, at the service of true life . ... We do this in many ways depending on local need and culture; the Eucharist is always the pulsating heart of our mission. The people of Bazertete in East Timor live the painful consequences of war. Our Sisters offer the healing presence of Eucharistic adoration, support humanitarian and educational projects and spend themselves listening to the pain and accompanying the people along the arduous road to peace and reconciliation. 'My peace I give you, my peace I leave you.' In the diocese of Yokohama, Japan, in the midst of a strong Buddhist culture, the Sisters give a silent witness to their faith in the presence of the Risen Lord; and in the education they offer in schools and university transmit the gospel values of love, forgiveness and respect. ... Eucharist and work for justice are inseparable. Communion with Christ in the Eucharist implies accepting the moral responsibility to work with Him, in collaboration with others, to transform unjust structures and mentalities into strategies and plans which further the true nature of God's love for our human family. 'God, here I am, I am coming to do Your will'." ANDREA RICCARDI, FOUNDER OF THE SANT'EGIDIO COMMUNITY, ITALY. "The lives of Christians among people frequently fall into anonymity. Do Christians have something to give others? One can give only that which one has received: the bread of the Word and of the Eucharist. Jesus says to the disciples: 'you give them something to eat.' This is the mission. If good bread is offered, we find that people are hungry for it, that times are less negative than they seem to be. And when faced with great poverty? Today we are lost and forgetful. The poor cannot be deprived of the Gospel. Charity does not last without the nourishment of Eucharist. I have seen this in many ... lives of the poor, lives that make the Church today - in spite of our limits - a source for those in greatest despair. Finally, Christians from the hell of the persecutions of the twentieth century show that it is always possible to live and to communicate the Gospel. In the year 2000, John Paul II made a call to take up the testimony of the new martyrs. I draw attention to the fact that this is an action to be undertaken in the particular Churches and at the heart of the Church. The of the martyrs must be opened in the context of Eucharist. The bond between Eucharist and martyrdom is a source of trust and hope, over and above our realistic or pessimistic reading of situations." ALEXEI V. JUDIN, PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY AND OF INTER-FAITH DIALOGUE IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, RUSSIAN STATE UNIVERSITY FOR THE HUMANITIES, ST. THOMAS COLLEGE, MOSCOW, RUSSIA. "As you know, in Russia we Catholics face in a serious way the problem of dialogue with the Orthodox. ... We Catholics have norms regulating inter-communion with non Catholics. But the shared recognition with the Orthodox of the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist impels us to move forward on the road of rapprochement. What steps must we take? First of all, without violating the clear rules and diluting Catholic identity, we must think in such a way as to overcome the current ecumenical crisis. In its present form, ecumenism concentrates above all on discussions concerning various historical and theological issues, etc. The dimension of spiritual ecumenism is limited to generic prayers and fraternal encounters at different levels, but it stops before the Eucharist. In effect, all these expressions and events try to evade Eucharistic reality. ... How can we deepen this knowledge in a Eucharist perspective? I have no certain answer, but I can offer a proposal. We have many charisms in the Catholic Church: the charisms of the various orders, religious congregations, and movements, etc. We ensure unity between them, not only on a juridical and administrative level, but also on a spiritual level. ... Therefore, if we are able to organise things in the Catholic environment guaranteeing unity among the different charisms, why can we not approach the Eucharistic Mystery together, in a restored unity between East and West?" BISHOP JOSEPH ZEN ZE-KIUN S.D.B. OF HONG KONG, CHINA. "The Church in China, apparently divided into two (an official Church recognised by the government and a clandestine one, which refuses to be independent from Rome), is in reality a single Church, because everybody wants to be united with the Pope. After long years of forced separation, the large majority of the bishops of the official Church have been legalised by the magnanimity of the Holy Father. It has become more and more clear, especially in recent years, that bishops ordained without the approval of the Roman Pontiff are accepted neither by the clergy nor by the faithful. One hopes that faced with this 'sensus Ecclesiae,' the government will see the advantage of normalising the situation, even if 'conservative' elements inside the official Church oppose this for obvious reasons of interest. The invitation by the Holy Father to four bishops to attend the Synod was a good opportunity, but it seems to have been wasted. A well-celebrated Eucharist will certainly accelerate the coming of true religious freedom for the Chinese people." Source: VIS

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