Earlier today, the Holy See released exerts from the 50 Propositions of the General Synod of Bishops which concluded Sunday. Pope Benedict will use these suggestions, which focus on the Eucharist, confession, and the role of the Church in the world, to form his Apostolic Exhortation on the event.
In Proposition number 7, the Bishops encouraged faithful to make the Eucharist the center of their lives and also called for more frequent individual confessions--a Sacrament which, they say, has seen in decline in recent years.
"It is of vital pastoral importance”, they wrote, “that bishops in their dioceses promote a decisive revival in teaching the conversion that arises from the Eucharist, and that to this end they favor frequent individual Confession."
The Proposition also called for an end, except in certain circumstances, to group absolutions, which had become popular in certain diocese during recent decades.
The Synod Fathers also addressed the problem of a priest shortage in many parts of the world, but reaffirmed the Church’s tradition of priestly celibacy--something that has recently come under fire from critics following the abuse scandal in the U.S.
In the context of a genuine problem for many faithful who have no priest to administer the sacraments, the Bishops wrote that they "affirmed the importance of the inestimable gift of ecclesiastical celibacy in the Latin Church.”
“With reference to the Magisterium, especially to Vatican Council II and to recent Pontiffs,” the bishops requested “that the faithful be given adequate explanation of the reasons for the link between celibacy and priestly ordination, in full respect for the tradition of the Eastern Churches.”
In this light, they called both families, communities of faithful and particularly, priests and bishops, to build up and promote vocations.
Other major points that the bishops hit on included the importance of Sundays, a reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching of Eucharistic reception only for Catholics in good standing with the Church, and a greater call for pastoral care for the poor, disenfranchised and migrants.
“These faithful”, they wrote, “must be welcomed as members of the same Body of Christ, whatever their race, status or condition, especially in Eucharist celebrations. Christ's charity impels other local Churches and institutes of consecrated life give generous help to dioceses that welcome large numbers of migrants."