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The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church



Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

03/10/2008: Vatican

The upcoming XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place from 5 to 26 October 2008, will treat The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. The choice of topic was selected by His Holiness Benedict XVI on 6 October 2006. After the Synod of Bishops on The Eucharist: Fountain and Pinnacle of Life and of the Mission of the Church, which took place 2 to 23 October 2005, it seemed logical to concentrate attention on The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, subsequently deepening the meaning of a single table of the Bread of Life and the Word of God.

This proposal is in tune with the work of deepening knowledge of Scripture in the Church. Vatican Council II, with the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, summarizes the solemn teaching of the Church on the Word of God, presenting its doctrine and advising on its implementation. The doctrine on the word has traveled a long road of maturation and deepening. This road is marked by three encyclicals: Providentissimus Deus of Leo XIII, Spiritus Paraclitus of Benedict XV, and Divino Afflante Spiritu of Pius XII. The width of this road has been increased by exegesis and by a renewed theology, and has been enriched by the spiritual experience of the faithful which was referred to in the Bishops’ Synod of 1985 and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. After the Council, the Magisterium of the universal and local Church has insistently promoted encountering the Word, with the conviction that this will produce in the Church a new spiritual springtime.

The Synod Assembly is set, for the most part, inside the great inspiration of the Word of God directed to his people, in close relation with the preceding Synods of Bishops (1965-2006). The word of God alludes to the same foundation of faith and tries to bring up to date in our time the great witnesses of encountering the Word that we find in the biblical world and throughout the history of the Church.

For the specific preparation of this event they prepared the Lineamenta, a document which has as its purpose briefly presenting the state of the question about the important argument of the Word of God and to indicate positive aspects in the life and mission of the Church. In order to facilitate the reflection and the discussion of the topic on the level of the whole Church, this document has been accompanied by a detailed questionnaire related to the arguments treated in each one of the chapters. The Ordinary Council of the Synod, with the help of some valuable experts, has studied and arranged the contributions that came in from the entire ecclesial world revising them in a second document traditionally called an Instrumentum laboris. The Instrumentum laboris is the result of the answers to the Lineamenta from the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the episcopal conferences, the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General, as well as well as observations made by individual bishops, priests, consecrated persons, theologians and members of the lay faithful who wanted to make their contributions to the ecclesial reflection on this important topic. This document will be used as the agenda for the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The objective of this Synod is eminently pastoral since it proposes to give greater clarity to the basic truths of Revelation, such as, the Word of God, faith, Tradition, the Bible and the Magisterium, all of which underlie and ensure a truly effective journey of faith; to bring about a deep love for Sacred Scripture, so that the faithful have “greater access to it; to renew the listening to the Word or God, in the liturgy and catechesis, especially in practice of Lectio Divina which is duly adapted to various circumstances; and to address a message of comfort and hope to the poor.

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