October 6, 2009

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

SUMMARY OF SYNOD OF BISHOPS: 5 - 6 OCTOBER


SECOND GENERAL CONGREGATION

VATICAN CITY, 5 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Second General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began at 4.30 p.m. today in the Synod Hall, in the presence of the Holy Father. The session was dedicated to the presentation of five reports on how the theme of the Synod is perceived on five continents: South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, and a single report on the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa".

  The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and there were 227 Synod Fathers present.

SOUTH AMERICA: ARCHBISHOP RAYMUNDO DAMASCENO ASSIS OF APARECIDA, BRAZIL, AND PRESIDENT OF THE LATIN AMERICAN EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE (CELAM). "I would like to suggest some points that could be a theme for dialogue for a possible fraternal exchange between the Churches of the two continents. From the episcopal point of view, we could share with Africa the great wealth of the 54 years of existence of the episcopal organisation I represent: the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), an instrument of episcopal communion and mutual service among our bishops. Another possibility would be - with the support of the Holy See - to invite bishops of the Catholic Church on both continents for an exchange of collegial, pastoral and organisational experiences ... As concerns seminarians and priests, I think that it would be possible, and mutually enriching, to offer the seminaries of particular Churches in Latin America, which have greater resources, for the first period of priestly formation".

NORTH AMERICA: ARCHBISHOP WILTON DANIEL GREGORY OF ATLANTA, U.S.A. "The Church in the U.S.A. continues to benefit from those people from Africa who recently have come as visitors and new residents to our shores. These new arrivals come, not like those of an earlier moment in time, wearing chains and as human chattel, but as skilled workers, professionally trained businessmen, and students eager to make a new life in a land that they view as promising. Many of these new peoples bring with them a profound and dynamic Catholic faith with its rich spiritual heritage. These wonderful people challenge us to rediscover our own spiritual traditions that so often are set aside because of the influence of our secular pursuits".

ASIA: ARCHBISHOP ORLANDO B. QUEVEDO O.M.I. OF COTABATO, PHILIPPINES, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES (FABC). "The Church in Africa and the Church in Asia are raising questions of deep import. ... As I understand it, the Church in Africa is exploring the theological and pastoral implications of the Church as the Family of God. For us in Asia, guided by Holy Scripture and the living Magisterium of the Church, we have been led by the Holy Spirit, we believe, to explore in the Asian context the theology of Church as communion and as humble servant of the Gospel and of Asian peoples. This theological perspective has opened up the pastoral option of ongoing radical renewal of the Church in Asia, an option more of being than of doing. ... The Church in Africa and the Church in Asia bear similar experiences of sorrow and joy. Sorrow at the many forces of a culture of death ... such as the increasing poverty and marginalisation of our peoples; ... injustices against women and. children; ... our inability to compete with the powerful in a global economic order unguided by juridical and moral norms; religious intolerance instead of a dialogue of reason and faith. ... On the other hand we experience great joy and hope in movements of justice and peace, ... in the solidarity of people of good will from different social classes and religious traditions to work for a more just, more peaceful, more fraternal social order".

OCEANIA: BISHOP PETER WILLIAM INGHAM OF WOLLONGONG AUSTRALIA, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATION OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCES OF OCEANIA (FCBCO). "As in Africa, the Church now exists in Oceania, because of heroic missionaries who came mainly from Ireland, France, Germany and Italy. The faith in Oceania also has some wonderful role models in martyrs and saints in addition to those already canonised and beatified, but nowhere near the glorious tradition of saints and martyrs that witness to the faith in Africa. ... In both Oceania and Africa, great work is being done by the Church and its agencies to help people recover their equilibrium in their communities and to manage risks that could arise from natural disasters. We can and must learn from one another. I ask your prayers for Samoa and Tonga in their grief after the recent earthquake and tsunami".

EUROPE: CARDINAL PETER ERDO, ARCHBISHOP OF ESZTERGOM-BUDAPEST, HUNGARY, AND PRESIDENT OF THE "CONSILIUM CONFERENTIARUM EPISCOPORUM EUROPAE" (CCEE). "Christ is the light of the world. He illumines even the darkness of human history, and no obscurity, no hate, no evil can overcome Him. Our hope is in Him. Even if the Church's voice and the witness of each Christian seems weak, even if they often do not appear on the front page of the great communications media, this subtle voice is stronger than any noise, lie, propaganda, or manipulation. We are witnesses to the strength of the martyrs. ... We European Catholics have learned from our own history closely to follow the fate of African Christians, and we have also learned to respect your faithfulness, your witness, and the African martyrs who give their lives - year after year in worryingly-large numbers - for Christ and for His Church, and in the same way also for us. The Church in Africa has earned our gratitude and our profound respect".

ARCHBISHOP LAURENT MONSENGWO PASINYA OF KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "We must recognise that the spirit and dynamism of the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops gave fresh impulse to the life and mission of the Church in Africa. Not only did the local Churches enthusiastically embrace the post-Synodal Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Africa', which they published and presented, but they also followed its directives, options and guidelines, both in calling diocesan synods at national or regional level, and in organising congresses, symposia and seminars on the key theme of Church-Family of God. ... The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops is called to commit the Church and society in Africa to the path of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace, through justice in truth: 'reconciled in the Church-Family of God for the salvation of a numerous people'".

 

THIRD GENERAL CONGREGATION

VATICAN CITY, 6 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Third General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began this morning in the presence of the Holy Father. The session was attended by 226 Synod Fathers, and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

  At the beginning of today's session His Holiness Abuna Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, addressed participants, thanking the Pope for his invitation to participate in this Synod.

  "We have to exercise our peculiar responsibility as religious leaders and heads of Churches: to acknowledge and sustain, when we deem it necessary, the suggestions that come from the people, as, on the contrary, to reject them when they contradict the respect and love for Man", said the patriarch speaking English.

  "African religious leaders not only have to worry about social work but also answer the great spiritual needs of the women and men of Africa. Apostleship and social works cannot be treated separately. Social work is the meaning of apostleship. Apostleship is the root of a real and compassionate social work. Our land needs to be nourished by the teachings of its religious fathers and I feel obliged together with you to translate in practice our preaching. I feel the imperative to enhance the awareness of the people to honour life, peace and justice. Thus, leaders of the African Churches, with the power of the Almighty God and of the Holy Spirit, need to voice the language of the Church".

  The Pope responded briefly to the patriarch's words. "Your presence", he said, also in English, "bears eloquent witness to the antiquity and rich traditions of the Church in Africa. ... Your people's fidelity to the Gospel continues to be shown not only by their obedience to this law of love, but also, as you have reminded us, by perseverance amid persecution and the supreme sacrifice of martyrdom for the name of Christ.

  "Your Holiness has recalled", the Benedict XVI added, "that the proclamation of the Gospel cannot be separated from the commitment to build a society which conforms to God's will, respects the blessings of His creation and protects the dignity and innocence of all His children. In Christ we know that reconsolidation is possible, justice can prevail, peace can endure! This is the message of hope which we are called to proclaim. This is the promise which the people of Africa long to see fulfilled in our day".

CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO, DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS. "Today we can see more clearly the enormity of the disasters provoked by nationalism and the exaltation of the concept of race. ... How can we forget that also in Africa homicidal rage between different ethnic groups has devastated entire countries? ... I believe we should repeat to everyone, with greater insistence, that love of one's nation (concretely, of one's people, one's compatriots) is certainly a Christian duty, but we also have to add that the deviation of nationalism is wholly un-Christian. ... Christianity favoured the coming together of the peoples of a certain region, giving life to the concept of a people or a nation, with its own specific cultural identity. Christianity, though, has always condemned any deformation in this concept of nation, deformations that frequently descend into nationalism or even racism, the true negation of Christian universality. The truth is that the two basic principles of the Christian community have always been the dignity of each human person, on the one hand, and the unity of the human race, on the other. These are two inviolable frontiers, within which various concepts of nation can evolve, depending on time and place. ... The present 53 African nations will have a great future in the concert of the 192 nations that today make up the entire human family, if they are able to overcome their divisions and co-operate together for the material and spiritual progress of their peoples".

CARDINAL POLYCARP PENGO, ARCHBISHOP OF DAR-ES-SALAAM, TANZANIA, AND PRESIDENT OF THE "SYMPOSIUM DES CONFERENCES EPISCOPALES D'AFRIQUE ET DE MADAGASCAR" (SCEAM). "The theme of this Synod is of great urgency today for the Church in Africa. In order to develop and deepen the theme as required, questions like selfishness, greed for material wealth, ethnicity resulting in ethnic conflicts and others which are the root causes of lack of peace in many Africans societies must be confronted without fear or favour, and be followed up with specific pastoral directives. The wars and conflicts affecting our continent are dividing our people, sowing a culture of violence and destroying the spiritual, social and moral fabric of our societies. It is sad to have to state that there are allegations against some of us pastors being involved either through our omissions or even by direct commissions in these conflicts. In this Synod we must have the courage to denounce even against ourselves things like the misuse of the role and practice of authority, tribalism and ethnocentrism, political partisan of the religious leaders etc. The Church in Africa will not be able to speak with one voice about reconciliation, justice and peace if there is a clear lack of adequate unity and communion and appropriate responsibility for SECAM on the part of individual bishops and national as well as regional episcopal conferences".

ARCHBISHOP FIDELE AGBATCHI OF PARAKOU, BENIN. "The Synodal Fathers should consider the practical aspects - so abundantly underlined in the 'Instrumentum laboris' - of applying the exegetical and theological principles of reconciliation, justice and peace which stem from the One Triune God. ... Such a task carried out by the Synod Fathers would help Africa take up her historical responsibility before the Gospel, which she has received and has the duty to fulfil. ... This would help her rid herself of fear. In fact, Africa is afraid and lives in fear. Jealously protecting her discoveries about the world and nature, she naturally falls into mistrust, suspicion, a defensive attitude, aggressiveness, charlatanism ... and syncretism, facets that contribute to obstructing the search for the true God. How much this continent, mother of us all, hopes to see the even more radiant lustre of the light of the crucified and risen Christ! What I wish for this Synod is a Paschal future and, after so much suffering, the resurrection of Africa".

BISHOP MAROUN ELIAS LAHHAM OF TUNIS, TUNISIA. "The specificity of Islamic-Christian relations in the Churches of North Africa could enrich the experiences of dialogue elsewhere (in Europe or in sub-Saharan Africa) and defuse the reactions of fear and the rejection of Islam that we are beginning to see in certain countries. We all know that fear is a bad counsellor. ... Two propositions: (1) May the Synod for the Middle East, scheduled for October 2010, also include the dioceses of North Africa, especially as regards the Christian minorities and relations and dialogue with Islam. (2) A discussion about Islam in Africa that takes account of the variety of African experiences, from Tunis to Johannesburg".

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