October 11th: US Prelates Speak
From October 7-11 all the US Bishop Delegates as well as Cardinal Levada and Cardinal Stafford presented their five minute “interventions” for the Synod on the Word.
*Cardinal George of Chicago spoke of the Word’s capacity to lead to “conversion of the imagination, intellect and will” in the lives of believers.
*Bishop Kicanas of Tucson focused on the need for better preaching asking: “What if, after this Year of St. Paul, the Church Universal focused a year on preaching in the Eucharistic assembly? … What if, in that year of preaching, priests and deacons with their bishop met with the laity to listen to their struggles?”
* Archbishop Wuerl of Washington, DC spoke of correlating Lectionary based preaching with the Catechism.
* Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston recommended the creation of a Compendium directed to the faithful that “would highlight the rich and useful methods of the Church for reading and sharing the Sacred Scriptures.”
* Byzantine Archbishop Basil Myron Schott, O.F.M. of Pittsburgh spoke of the distinctive understandings of Eastern Rite Catholics pointing to Mary “The Theotokos [who] remains the prime model of receiving the Word and this is exemplified in the Akatist Hymn to the Mother of God.”
* Cardinal Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had four observations, one of which is that while biblical interpretation, “must always treasure scientific research by the exegetes, it also needs a hermeneutics that develops the close bond between the Word of God and the faith of the Church, professed in the Creed and expressed through the centuries in the doctrinal teaching of the Magisterium.”
* Cardinal Stafford of the Apostolic Penitentary recommended that “The faithful should be better informed concerning the plenary indulgence connected with the reverent reading of the Word of God over a period of time (at least 30 minutes).
- H. Em. Card. Francis Eugene GEORGE, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, President of the Episcopal Conference (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
To speak of the Word of God in the church is to speak of the Word of God in the lives of believers. Pastors should attend to conversion of the imagination, the intellect and the will of those to whom they proc1aim the Word of God and for whom they interpret Scripture. Too often, the contemporary imagination has lost the image of God as actor in history. The contemporary intellect finds little consistency in the books of the Bible and is not informed by the regula fidei. The contemporary heart has not been shaped by worship and the submission to God's word in the liturgical year. If the power of God's word in Holy Scripture is to be felt in the life and mission of the Church, pastors must attend to personal context as well as to inspired text. [00023-02.05] [IN011] [Original text: English]10/7
- H.E. Most. Rev. Gerald Frederick KICANAS, Bishop of Tucson, Assistant President of Episcopal Conference (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
The Eucharistic assembly is where the Church is built up. The Word preached in that assembly comforts, heals, brings hope, inspires, instills joy, delights, confronts, teaches, and challenges. The preached Word reveals and affirms the very best of human ideals and longings placed by God in the human heart. The preached Word, mediated by the Spirit, inspires us to live, move, and have our very being in Christ. Through grace, it changes lives. Unfortunately, preaching in our day can lose its savor, become formulaic and uninspired leaving the hearer empty. Bishops, priests, and deacons bear responsibility for preaching at Mass. How can we enhance the preaching of the Word? Well, what if? What if, after this Year of St. Paul, the Church Universal focused a year on preaching in the Eucharistic assembly? What if, in that year of preaching, priests and deacons together with their bishop studied what matters in order to preach better? What if, in that year of preaching, priests and deacons with their bishop met with the laity to listen to their struggles? They could discuss how preaching might inspire the laity to be a leaven for the world, bringing the Gospel values to the questions of the times. What if, in that year of preaching, there would be a thorough exploration of the catechetical potential of the Sunday homily? If all these "what ifs" were realized then the new springtime for Christianity about which the Holy Father speaks could burst forth and bloom throughout the Church. renewing the Church, strengthening evangelization, intensifying catechesis, and enhancing discipleship. [00031-02.05] [IN005] [Original text: English] 10/7
- H.E. Most. Rev. Donald William WUERL, Archbishop of Washington (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
In the context of a Liturgy for some 50,000 people gathered at Washington's Nationals Park, you, Holy Father spoke to us of the need to see our own day in the light of the firstPentecost and as a living expression of it. In these reflections, I would like to touch on the opportunities we have in both our· homilies and catechetical efforts to renew a sense of connectedness with Christ and his Word in and through his Church.
The context for much of our preaching and catechesis today, at least in my experience, is a highly secular and materialistic world view in which the person is seen much more as a segregated individual rather than an integrated member of the community. This individualistic self-appraisal combined with minimal knowledge of the Word of God proclaimed in the Church presents for us a challenge as we try to proclaim God's revelation - revealed truth.
The homily provides us an opportunity to open the hearts of our faithful more fully to God's Word, but to do so in a way in which the context and content of the faith is integrated into the reflections on the specific Scriptures of that particular Liturgy. Twenty centuries of reflection on the Word of God provide the content of our faith proclamation. We preach the Word of God and its meaning in the context of the circumstances of our day and engage our people in a deeper appreciation of it as it answers the questions of today.
The Liturgy is both an act of worship and a pedagogue. The three-year cycle of the Lectionary in its presentation of Scripture offers us an extraordinary opportunity to link the twenty century-long experience of that Scripture reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The two, the Lectionary and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, should be seen in their correlative qualities.
The task before is to help our faithful understand that they are part of the Church, a visible community that is also a spiritual communion. The liturgical homily provides the best occasion for our faithful to encounter the living person of Christ from within an authentic ecclesial and communal setting. The integration of elements of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the readings from the Lectionary offers us an opportunity to demonstrate how the World of God is able to animate our personal and communal life with Christ and, at the same time, articulate the Church’s faith that has been immeasurably enriched by the living tradition of twenty centuries. In this way the homily helps the faithful to understand more fully the Word of God and it does so precisely because it is proclaimed and interpreted within its proper context, that is, within the liturgical, doctrinal and moral tradition of the Church itself.
An understanding of the eccleslial context of God’s revelation also helps the hearer of the homily reaffirm not only the meaning of the Word but an allegiance and adherence to the body of Christ - the Church. My point in this intervention is simply, that, giving the opportunities we have in each homily and every religious education instruction we should look to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a rich resource. That compendium of faith is a fruitful tool for every preacher and catechist to present the Word of God in the richness and depth of its ecclesial context. Thank you. [00073-02.07] [IN056] [Original text: English]10/8
- H. Em. Card. Daniel N. DI NARDO, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
The Eternal Word emptied himself for our salvation. In an analogous way the Holy Spirit has also given and "humbled" himself in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. With great courtesy he has adapted the divine "language" with thought towards our human nature (Dei Verbum, 9 and 11). The record of even small, seemingly trivial events in Sacred Scripture, are·taken up into the very economy of our salvation and deification.
I speak in behalf of Catholics who live in the famous Bible Belt of the Southern United States. It is a genuine location, but it is also a frame of mind, diffused through many places in the world. There are surely issues and problems with this mind set, but it has kept alive a Biblical imagination and vocabulary and a sense of divine agency in the world that is important for us in the Instrumentum Laboris, #18 a-g and 22 c-d, the Word of God is spoken about in a deeply rich christological way. The pneumatology however is more discrete. Catholics in the Bible Belt need a pneumatology that can help them in reading Scripture.
I would recommend the publication of a Compendium, similar to other such documents, that would be directed to the faithful. It would be a clear and direct guide that would highlight the rich and useful methods of the Church for reading and sharing the Sacred Scriptures. Such a Compendium would be an immeasurable help for personal bible reading, for Bible Study groups etc. Totally ecclesial and Catholic, it would also be of great help in ecumenical bible studies in which many of our people are enrolled. It would help retrieve a vivid and excellent sense of the Catholic understanding of the Holy Spirit' s inspiration in the Sacred Scriptures. [00178-02.02] [IN152] [Original text: English] 10/11
- H.E. Most. Rev. Basil Myron SCHOTT, O.F.M., Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh of Byzantines, President of the Council of the Ruthene Church (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
In the East, the scriptures are found in the preaching of the Fathers of the Church, Tradition and Liturgical Services. The Incarnate Word remains present in the Church in two ways: the biblical word and in the Eucharist, effected in the life of the Church by the Holy Spirit. Scripture is not seen as primarily a written norm, but rather a consecration of the History of Salvation under the species of the human word. The content and unity of Scripture does not refer to the books of the Scriptures themselves but to the reality to which these books give testimony and witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Theotokos remains the prime model of receiving the Word and this is exemplified in the Akatist Hymn to the Mother of God.[00153-02.03] [IN129] [Original text: English]
- H. Em. Card. William Joseph LEVADA, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (VATICAN CITY)
A first observation refers to the need to clarify the relationship between the Bible and the Church. In the “Fides Ecclesiae”, one can see the correct understanding of the holy Book, and the loving presence of the Book can only promote an ecclesial sense of faith.
A second observation concerns the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures that cannot be only an individual scientific effort, but should always be compared, inserted and authenticated by the living tradition of the Church. Although the interpretation of Biblical texts must always treasure scientific research by the exegetes, it also needs a hermeneutics that develops the close bond between the Word of God and the faith of the Church, professed in the Creed and expressed through the centuries in the doctrinal teaching of the Magisterium.
As a third observation, I would like to point out the close relationship that exists between Sacred Scripture and ecumenism. The Bible is truly a terrain for unity. At the same time, one cannot ignore the historical fact which is at the root of the division between Christians, the controversial interpretation of certain important and fundamental Biblical texts. Suffice it to recall the Arian crisis in the ancient Christian period and at the beginning of the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reform. The Synod should keep this ecumenical aspect in mind, since the attention given to the written Word of God is certainly a very strong bond that draws the Catholic Church closer to the other confessions in the common search.
Finally, as a fourth and last observation, I would like to refer to the relationship between Sacred Scriptures and the Liturgy. It is important to remember that in the Liturgy, Biblical narration becomes an actual event of salvation. [00121-02.02] [IN100] [Original text: Italian] 10/8
- H. Em. Card. James Francis STAFFORD, Penitentiary Major (VATICAN CITY)
The practice of forgiveness and reconciliation within the Church has declined over the past two generations and paradoxically has increased in the secular society. National·Commissions of Truth and Reconciliation are examples of the latter. New encounters between forgiveness and the Word of God are needed. At one time, the name given to forgiveness of sins by Jesus was appropriately considered, by antonomasia, to be the Good News, i.e., the Gospel. Such forgiveness is intimately associated with sins' attendant - guilt - and with God's mercy.
Why raise the concepts of forgiveness, guilt and mercy in a context where the theme is the word of God? There are three motives:
1. Healing is one of the central motifs of the word of God. However, the Instrumentum Laboris does not elaborate on the relation between the Sacraments of Healing - Penance and Anointing of the Sick - and the Word of God. A much stronger and longer treatment of these two sacraments regarding the Word of God is needed.
2. Little attention in the Instrumentum Laboris is given to the Sacrament of marriage in relation to the Word of God. Yet parents are the key catechists of their children. Unless parents are encouraged and assisted to introduce their children to the biblical Jubelruf, the joyous shout described by Pope Benedick XVI in his Jesus of Nazareth, children will grow up having, at best, a truncated perception of themselves as God's sons and daughters.
3. The faithful should be better informed concerning the plenary indulgence connected with the reverent reading of the Word of God over a period of time (at least 30 minutes). [00181-02.02] [IN156] [Original text: English] 10/11