Eucharistic Synod underway

 The Synod of Bishops which takes place on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod by Paul VI, is now underway. Two hundred and fifty six Synod Fathers from 118 nations are taking part. This is the highest ever number of participants in a synodal assembly. Among them are 55 cardinals, 8 patriarchs, 82 archbishops, 123 bishops, 36 presidents of episcopal conferences and 12 religious. There are also 32 experts and 27 auditors from five continents. During the three weeks there will be 23 General Congregations and seven sessions for the Working Groups have been scheduled. Because of the large number of people attending, some changes have been made to procedures. the aim of which is to make the synod meeting more streamlined, more participatory, and more collegial. One of these includes a free discussion in the Synod Hall frm 6 to 7pm at the end of each day. Yesterday morning in the Synod Hall, the first General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held. The meeting was presided by the Pope, and 241 Synod Fathers were present. Pope Benedict told the meeting: "One of the functions of collegiality is to help us to know our own shortcomings, which we do not want to see. It is never easy to contemplate one's own defects, and others notice them better than we do." In this context, he said "fraternal correction helps us become more open, it helps each person find his own truth, his own integrity as an instrument of God. All this calls for humility, not placing ourselves above others, but helping one another." In this way "we can help ourselves with a great act of love, an act of true collegial affection. When someone is desperate, he cannot see how to keep going, he needs consolation, someone to be with him, to give him courage, to play the role of the consoling Holy Spirit." "This is an invitation for us to carry out the work of the Holy Spirit Paraclete," said Benedict XVI, asking "how can we do so if we do not share together the faith that was not invented by any one of us, but is the faith of the Church?" "The faith is the common foundation upon which we stand and work." The words of St Paul contain "an invitation to always remain upon this foundation that precedes us, to maintain this shared faith. ... Each person must experience the faith in his or her own uniqueness, but always knowing that this faith precedes us." The Holy Father concluded his greetings by encouraging the participants in the Synod to be "instruments of Christ," and to "enter into the thoughts and feelings of the Lord." Cardinal Francis Arinze, president delegate on duty, also spoke briefly at the beginning of this morning's session. "We come," he said, "to reflect on a topic that touches the heartbeat of the life of the Church. In fact, in the Most Holy Eucharist, as Vatican Council II says, 'is contained the entire spiritual wealth of the Church, namely Christ Himself, our Easter.' The Eucharist 'stands at the centre of the Church's life'." Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, then reported on the activities of the council of the secretariat general in the period since the last Synod assembly, highlighting that it was John Paul II who began preparations for the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly, and Benedict XVI who would conclude them. Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy, relator general of the Synod, then read out the "Relatio ante disceptationem," (report before the discussion - the full text of which will be made available on the Vatican website) Source: Fides

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