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Vatican publishes outline for next Synod of Bishops General Assembly
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.- In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, presented the "Lineamenta" for the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held from October 5 to 26, 2008 on the theme: "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

The "Lineamenta," a document containing the draft guidelines on the theme of the forthcoming meeting, has been published in various languages including English and is composed of an introduction, three chapters and a conclusion. The text includes a questionnaire relating to the themes covered, the aim of which is to stimulate more profound reflection at all levels of the ecclesial community. Responses must be sent to the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops before the end of November 2007.

The introduction makes it clear that this meeting is a continuation of the last synodal assembly, which was held in 2005 on the theme: "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." The aim of the 2008 meeting, the text reads, is to set forth "the intrinsic connection between the Eucharist and the Word of God. ... This is the Synod's underlying purpose and primary goal, namely, to fully encounter the Word of God in Jesus the Lord, present in the Sacred Scriptures and the Eucharist."

The text of the "Lineamenta" goes on to explain that the aim of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly is "to help clarify the basic truths of Revelation as the Word of God, Divine Tradition, the Bible and the Magisterium, which prompt and guarantee an authentic and effective living of the faith; to spark an appreciation and deep love of Sacred Scriptures so that 'the faithful might have easy access' to it; to renew listening to the Word of God, in the liturgy and catechesis, specifically through 'lectio divina,' duly adapted to various circumstances; and to offer a Word of consolation and hope to the poor of the world."

The first chapter - entitled "Revelation, the Word of God and the Church" - considers such matters as the human need for Revelation; Divine Tradition and Sacred Scripture in the Church, a single sacred deposit of the Word of God; and the demanding task of interpreting the Word of God in the Church.

"The Word of God in the life of the Church" is the title of the second chapter of the "Lineamenta," which recalls how the Church was born and lives by the Word of God, and how the People of God draw nourishment from the Word in various ways: in the liturgy and in prayer, in evangelization and catechesis, in exegesis and in theology, and in the lives of believers.

Chapter three - entitled "The Word of God in the Mission of the Church" - highlights how the Word of God must remain accessible to everyone at all times. "Listening to the Word of God," the text reads, "must always take into consideration its ecumenical dimension." Moreover, the Word of God is "a light for inter-religious dialogue" with the Jewish people and with those of other faiths.

"A fervent listening to the Word," the document concludes, "is fundamental to a personal encounter with God."

During today's press briefing Archbishop Eterovic, recalling the fact that the "Lineamenta" refer to the Vatican Council II Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Verbum," pointed out that "more than 40 years after that great conciliar document, it is time to identify, within the Universal Church, the positive results it has brought to the People of God, especially as concerns biblical renewal in the fields of liturgy, theology and catechesis."

However, he went on, "unresolved and problematic aspects persist, for example phenomena such as ignorance concerning the doctrine of the Revelation and of the Word of God, as well as the significant detachment of many Christians from the Bible." Archbishop Eterovic also highlighted how the forthcoming synodal assembly "will have a prevalently pastoral goal."

Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, also present at the press briefing, affirmed that the "Lineamenta" may be considered in the light of "the correct interpretation of Vatican Council II, ... its proper hermeneutics, ... its interpretation and application, as an exercise of that hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity, of the one Church which the Lord gave to us. She grows and develops in time, yet always remains the same, the one Church of the pilgrim People of God." 

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