After celebrating the opening Mass for the 12th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, Pope Benedict XVI made the synod the focus of his words before the recitation of the Angelus. The Holy Father invited his audience to support the work of the synod on the Bible with their prayers, invoking in a special way "the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, the perfect Disciple of the Divine Word."
Speaking to 20,000 faithful present in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict recalled morning Mass at the Roman basilica and reflected on the origins of bishops’ synods.
"This is an important body, instituted in September of 1965 by my venerable predecessor, the servant of God Paul VI, during the final phase of Vatican Council II, to carry out an order contained in the Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church, 'Christus Dominus'. These are the ends of the synod: foster close union and collaboration between the Pope and the bishops of the entire world; to provide direct and precise information on the situation and problems of the Church; to foster agreement on doctrine and pastoral actions; and to address topics of great importance and relevance."
The Pope said that the Greek word sýnodos, composed from the preposition syn, that is "with," and from odòs, which means "way” or “street," "suggests the idea of 'paving the way together.'"
The current synod on the Bible will last for three weeks and includes 253 "synod fathers": 51 from Africa, 62 from the Americas, 41 from Asia, 90 from Europe and 9 from Oceania, who will study and discuss the “working document” alongside numerous experts and auditors, men and women. There will also be "fraternal delegates" from other Churches and ecclesial communities present.
After the Angelus, Pope Benedict directed these words towards the English-speaking pilgrims: "I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Sunday Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel Jesus speaks of his death at the hands of those who did not heed the voice of God and progressively closed their hearts to truth, justice and love. Let us pray with confidence that the Lord will guide our steps and grant us patience and constancy in doing God's holy will! I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!"