Synod: notes from ninth, tenth and eleventh Congregations

 NINTH GENERAL CONGREGATION The Ninth General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held this afternoon in the Vatican's Synod Hall. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez and 239 Synod Fathers were present. The Holy Father attended the end of the afternoon session and participated in the free discussions. Following are excerpts from some of the speeches: BISHOP GERVAIS BANSHIMIYUBUSA OF NGOZI, BURUNDI. "Burundi, a Christian country, and more than 60% Catholic, has just experienced a period of trial with tragic conflicts among the country's various ethnic communities. These conflicts degenerated into civil war, and the situation reached the point that people from different ethnic groups no longer dared pass one other in the street. Eucharistic celebrations remained privileged places where people from different ethnic groups could meet to pray for reconciliation. By means of this 'double Table' of the Word of God and of the Eucharistic bread, the Eucharistic celebration became, so to say, a privileged opportunity for prophetic proclamation which regularly nourished people's hope in possible reconciliation, and a Word which called everybody indiscriminately to a conversion of hearts and minds. Over and above this, the Eucharistic celebration was a source of grace which gave Christians supernatural courage to go against the tide, refusing - often at the price of their own blood - all negative forms of solidarity based solely on the fraternity of ethnic groups or selfish interests." CARDINAL FRANCISCO JAVIER ERRAZURIZ OSSA, ARCHBISHOP OF SANTIAGO DE CHILE, CHILE. "Paragraph 25 of the 'Instrumentum Laboris' invites us to consider interior participation in the Eucharist. It says that 'the participation of the faithful at liturgical celebrations, particularly the Eucharistic liturgy, is essentially entering into this spiritual worship where God comes down to the individual and the individual is raised to God.' ... Therefore, as the 'Instrumentum Laboris' says, it is a question of entering into the action of the liturgy. The best way to do this is to share the feelings and the attitude of Mary Most Holy, 'Eucharistic woman,' who preceded and still precedes the Church along the paths of faith, of Calvary, of the Covenant and of new life. ... The lay faithful participate fully when their lives are profoundly united with the Eucharist; when all their lives are marked by acceptance of God, attentiveness to the Word and docility to the Spirit, by adoration and thanksgiving, and by renewal of the New Covenant; when all their lives are offering and communion, sacrifice, imploration and expiation, a free gift of God for our brothers and sisters." BISHOP JOSE DE LA TRINIDAD VALERA ANGULO OF LA GUAIRA, VENEZUELA. "Celebrate with joy and celebrate the joy of the Lord's Easter. The world has to know and to live joyfully in the Holy Spirit; it is hungry for God and it is Christ who reveals man to man. Revelation, more than pure reason, is life, it is the joy of communicating the Trinity of the One God. ... Our service, as shepherds of the flock, is to find ways that enable our people to live the joy of the Risen One. Liturgical guidance must avoid any kind of legalism and search for ways to ensure that our people find joy in the Holy Spirit, that the world may believe and have life." CARDINAL ZENON GROCHOLEWSKI, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION. "The Eucharist constitutes the framework for all formation of seminarians: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. This centrality of the Eucharist must be strongly emphasized in the life of the seminary at various levels. Solid theological elucidation of the mystery of the Eucharist and its relationship with the Sacrament of Penance, explanation of the meaning of liturgical norms, the example of teachers, correct preparation of Eucharistic celebrations in order that they be intimately experienced by the whole community, the presence and availability of good confessors, well-prepared adoration of the Eucharistic, persistent invitations to private adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, etc., all these factors, seriously and constantly undertaken, should introduce the seminarian to a full understanding and love of the Eucharist. ... The formation of seminarians is of great importance and should be underlined because, in reality, how the Eucharist is celebrated and how it is perceived by the faithful, mainly depends on priests." ARCHBISHOP DOMINIC JALA S.D.B., OF SHILLONG, INDIA. "In multi-religious contexts, the assembly gathered for the Eucharist is often composed not only of Catholics. The presence of followers of other faiths poses a serious question to our Eucharistic ecclesiology, especially in India. What place do such people have vis a vis our faith community? How wide can a Eucharistic community stretch itself? If the sacrifice of communion is celebrated for the salvation of all, what is the relation of the Eucharistic Christian community with the rest? The Church's faith and discipline admits to communion only those who share in the faith and who profess the same Eucharistic faith. ... There remains the challenge to find ways of showing some means of Eucharistic hospitality to members of other faiths. ... Eucharistic devotion outside the Mass, flowing from it and leading to it, has had and continues to have a great influence in drawing people to the Church and in helping communities to be more missionary. Of particular relevance are, for instance, the yearly Eucharistic processions especially in Northeast India. However communities still awaiting a priest, as in most of the more remote villages of our missions, are a great concern for us. The Sunday liturgy should foster in these faithful a true love and a longing for the Eucharist." BISHOP LEO LABA LADJAR O.F.M., OF JAYAPURA, INDONESIA. "The priest may not be separated from the community. I get the impression that the 'Instrumentum laboris' is too 'priest centred.' There are some praxis and rules which should be questioned, inter alia: The authority for a priest to celebrate the Eucharist without an assembly (so-called 'private' Mass); the limitation of the purpose of ordination only to the Eucharist; ... enlarge the difference between ministerial and common priesthood to the point of reducing the role of acolytes to mere emergency situations; ... the meaning of reconciliation in community and liturgical assembly is underestimated. ... My impression of the 'priest centred' view of the 'Instrumentum laboris' is strengthened also in the underestimation of the liturgy of the Word, presided by a lay minister. Paragraph 55 of the 'Instrumentum laboris' speaks of this as 'liturgies awaiting a priest,' and not as the listening to the voice of the Lord and answering Him in prayer. Suggestions: we need to encourage the theologian to study and formulate a new theology of priesthood in connection with the threefold 'munera' of clerics in the ecclesial community, listening also to the praxis of apostolic times and the Eastern Churches." TENTH GENERAL CONGREGATION In the Vatican's Synod Hall on Saturday morning, the Tenth General Congregation was held of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Holy Father was present at the meeting which was also attended by 238 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo. Following are excerpts from some of the speeches: ARCHBISHOP SEAN BAPTIST BRADY OF ARMAGH, IRELAND. "The Word of God is alive and active, with the ability to change minds and hearts. It can address the needs of the individual and the community gathered to hear the Word of Life. It is an important source of the Holy Spirit's transforming activity in the Liturgy. ... Experience has shown in my own country the transforming power of the liturgy of the Word and of the homily. ... It is gratifying to note how scriptural words like justice, peace, forgiveness have become the lingua franca of the peace process. In recent days, a historic moment in that political process has been achieved with the decommissioning of weapons by the largest paramilitary organisation. Two clergymen who have worked for many years to promote dialogue and reconciliation, a former president of the Methodist Church and a Redemptorist priest, were asked to witness the act of decommissioning. This was perhaps, among other things, an acknowledgement of the role played by ministers of the Word of God in creating the conditions for reconciliation and peace. It attests to the power of the Word, under the action of the Holy Spirit, to make all things new." ARCHBISHOP BERHANEYESUS DEMEREW SOURAPHIEL, C.M., OF ADDIS ABEBA, ETHIOPIA. "The celebration of the 'Sunday Eucharist' presumes that there is a 'Sunday' - the Day of the Lord - set apart, and that the Eucharist can be celebrated freely on Sundays. In some parts of the world, this is not possible: for example, in Saudi Arabia or in some other Muslim countries. Sunday is a working day and the Eucharist is not celebrated because there are no Churches and no priests, or there is simply no religious freedom. >From Eritrea and Ethiopia, there are many Christians who are working and living in Muslim countries. ... Before they go to the Muslim countries, they are forced to change their Christian names into Muslim ones, and especially the women have to dress in Muslim attire. Once they reach their destinations, their passports are taken from them and they suffer all kinds of abuses and exploitation. Many are forced by the situation to become Muslims. They are forced to go to these Muslim countries because of the poverty of their own countries, and because the doors of other Christian countries are closed to them. We know that many African Christians die crossing parts of the Sahara desert or drown in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to go to Christian countries in Europe and America. ... I request the Synod Fathers, especially those working in Muslim countries where poor Christians go in search of employment, to extend their pastoral care to these Christians and to ask the Muslim governments to respect the religious freedom of Christians. BISHOP FELIX LAZARO MARTINEZ Sch. P., OF PONCE, PUERTO RICO. "Many Catholics are still far from being able to explain or defend their faith. As St. Peter says in his first letter: 'Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.' Yet it is difficult to love what one does not know. And if one has no knowledge of the Church, the Eucharist or the Christian faith, then with difficulty one can love the Church, the Eucharist or even the Christian faith itself. What is needed is catechesis. In my view we are suffering from a lack of catechesis. ... The absence of catechesis and religious formation can, perhaps, also explain why some of our faithful so easily go to other religious confessions or sects, attracted by the blinding light of pseudo religious science because we were unable to illuminate them in time with good and appropriate catechesis." BISHOP AMEDEE GRAB O.S.B., OF CHUR, SWITZERLAND. "My remarks refer to ecclesial communities that celebrate the memorial of the Lord in the Holy Supper. In ecumenical dialogue with these communities, one can often see an increasing convergence on very important themes: real presence, sacrificial characteristic of the memorial, need for ordination. What has proved more difficult is finding a formulation on the nature of the Church, and an agreement that the Holy Eucharist - source and summit of her vocation and her mission - was entrusted to Her. 'It makes no sense not to belong to a Church community and, at the same time, to want to receive the Eucharist,' and we cannot accept inter-celebration, inter-communion, and general hospitality offered to all baptized (or even to all those present). However, participation in Holy Communion by individual non-Catholic baptized, in exceptional cases and under certain conditions, is specifically provided for in paragraph 129 of the 1993 Ecumenical Directory, which not only mentions admittance but also invitation, following verification of the aforementioned conditions, among which belonging to the Catholic Church is not mentioned. This possibility should not be forgotten and must be taken into account in pastors' dealings with those who, without belonging to the Catholic Church, share the impassioned prayer of Jesus for unity. This should remain a recognized way to achieve unity, when and how the Lord, 'the living bread descending from heaven for the life of the world,' wishes." BISHOP GABRIEL PIROIRD OF CONSTANTINE, ALGERIA. "We are very much a minority of local churches, living in a world where Islam has strongly marked culture. ... Because of the needs of the mission, many live far away from any priestly presence. Due to this they cannot participate in the Eucharist, except on rare occasions. Such a situation leads us to look into the bond between the Eucharist and mission. Our thanksgiving to God joins that of our Muslim friends who also praise God for His works of creation and mercy. We could spiritually incorporate their prayers in our Eucharistic celebrations. We are sometimes amazed to see our Muslim friends 'linked with the Paschal Mystery.' When we come to inscribe our life in the offering of Christ, we also, in some way, do so with the lives of our friends. ... In an imperceptible way, our Eucharistic celebrations bring together a people who are yet absent, a people searching for God in the righteousness of their hearts. For a particular Church, the way of living the Eucharist cannot be separated from her concrete history with the people to whom the Lord gave her." CARDINAL GEORGES COTTIER O.P., THEOLOGIAN OF THE PONTIFICAL HOUSEHOLD. "If the Church has pronounced directives concerning the admission to the Eucharist of non-Catholic Christians and if she rejects inter-communion, this is because Eucharistic communion is not a starting point, rather it expresses and perfects a communion to be considered in its entirety: communion in the doctrine of the Apostles, in the Sacraments and in communion with the apostolic college of which Peter is head. This position seems unjustly hard to our Protestant brothers, because it is not understood. In fact, it is a fraternal duty for the Church to make it clear that she cannot dispose at her will of a gift received from her Lord. Her attitude is one of adoration, of praise and of obedience." ELEVENTH GENERAL CONGREGATION On Monday morning, in the presence of the Holy Father and of 244 Synod Fathers, the Eleventh General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze. Following are excerpts from some of the speeches: CARDINAL LUBOMYR HUSAR M.S.U., ARCHBISHOP OF LVIV OF THE UKRAINIANS, UKRAINE. "My premise is that there can be no doubt whatsoever that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the life and the mission of the Church. But this is also true for Oriental Churches! (Therefore) if the Liturgy is a 'regula fidei' ('lex orandi, lex credendi'); if the divine liturgy celebrated by Oriental Churches in communion with the See of Rome, and by Orthodox or Apostolic Churches, is identical; if there is mutual recognition of the apostolic succession of bishops and, consequently, of priests that celebrate the Eucharist, then my question is: what more is required for unity? Is there perhaps another 'fons' or another 'culmen' superior to the Eucharist? And if not, why isn't con-celebration permitted?" CARDINAL CRESCENZIO SEPE, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF PEOPLES. "Need is felt for a more organic approach ... to clarify the distinction between evangelization 'ad gentes' and evangelization aimed at people who have abandoned their faith. It is true that the content of evangelization is the same, but it can be diversified depending upon the recipients to whom it is directed. ... Today there are some 5 billion people who do not know Jesus, and who therefore cannot nourish themselves on His Body and His Blood. The Church has the right and the duty to ensure that they too receive the bread of Life and the chalice of Salvation. To this end it is necessary that Eucharistic doctrine be offered to non-Christians in its integral truth, without submitting to the 'cultural fashions' ... in which the Eucharist loses its mystic dimension and becomes a variant of the cultural anthropology that even relativizes the person of Jesus Christ Himself." BISHOP PETRU GHERGHEL OF IASI, ROMANIA. "From the very beginning, 'abiding in Christ' guaranteed the vitality and strength of the first Christian communities. ... In the long period of communist rule, the Church was the only place in which the faithful could nourish the courage of their faith. Celebration of the Eucharist was, at one and the same time, a moment for evangelization, for catechesis and for communion with God and with our brothers and sisters. ... My suggestion is a proposal to increase respect towards the Eucharist. Bearing in mind the oriental tradition, the richness of such testimony and the attempt to exchange gifts between our Churches, I propose that Mass also be given the name of 'Holy and Divine Liturgy,' alongside the Latin name already in use but not very precise. Such a name would be more suggestive of the divine, and would invite people, to meditation, wonder, silence and adoration." BISHOP GABRIEL MALZAIRE OF ROSEAU, DOMINICA. "The Sacrament of Penance is not a regular part of the spiritual life of a growing number of Catholics. Mixed marriages sometimes lead to a diminished regard for the Eucharist. Inter-communion poses a problem in the Antilles. Many of the faithful believe Holy Communion leads to personal sanctification and transformation of attitudes and engenders responsiveness to the needs of others. However, for many others there is a disparity between what they believe and how they live. Some recommendations include: A return to the emphasis on Easter duties with its requirement for (at least) annual Confession; reclaiming the respect and reverence due to the holy places; need for greater silence before and during the celebration of Mass; pews with kneelers should be returned to the Church so that people get into the habit of showing reverence before the Blessed Sacrament." FR. PETER HANS KOLVENBACH S.J., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS. "The rediscovery of the Tridentine notion of sacramental re-presentation ... opens promising horizons of dialogue between Catholics and Protestants. Instead of saying that the Mass is the renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross, today we say with more precision that Mass is the renewal of the memorial of the sacrifice of the Cross. In fact, Mass is a sacramental sacrifice, in other words, the sacrament of that sacrifice, our sacramental re-presentation of the one sacrifice. The limit that set Catholic heology of the second millennium against Orthodox theology, was that of analyzing Eucharistic transformation on the basis of the notion of physical time, making it depend exclusively either from the moment the words of consecration were pronounced, or from the moment in which the consecratory epiclesis was pronounced. Both sides have forgotten that the moment when the transubstantiation (or 'metabole') occurs is not that of our chronometer, rather it is God's instant, which is sacramental time. The Magisterium of the 'lex orandi' teaches that this instant - which by nature is 'beyond physical things' - has two strong moments, both of which have absolute consecratory effectiveness: institutional dedication and epiclesis. With reference to the words of consecration and to the consecratory epiclesis, the notion of absolute consecratory effectiveness leaves no room for conflict or exclusivity. Far from presenting itself as an obstacle, the question of epiclesis is revealed as a real ecumenical bridge in the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox." BISHOP OSWALD GRACIAS OF AGRA, INDIA. "In India where there is a great need for faith formation, more attention should be paid to lead the people to understand, appreciate and live the Scriptures in their richness. For this purpose, attempts could be made to use mediatic means like audiovisuals, projections of Gospel scenes and power presentations to make the proclamation appeal to the different human senses. Bishops, being fully involved, would take care to avoid the danger of showmanship. ... People in some areas in India are attracted to the sects because they find our liturgies monotonous and impersonal, far from being a God experience. Episcopal conferences along with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments could work out ways for further inculturation of the liturgy as well as introduction of more freedom and creativity, while at the same time safeguarding it from the danger of abuse. Group Masses and Masses for families could be effective means for strengthening family unity and for giving family catechesis." Source: VIS

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