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September 18, 2008     575 Words

An Insider’s Look at the Upcoming Synod

CINCINNATI—“The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”: That’s what approximately 250 bishops from around the world are going to be discussing at the Vatican October 5-26. One of the four bishops from the United States who will be attending is Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.

Archbishop Wuerl previously participated in the 1990 Synod on Formation of Priests in the Circumstances of the Present Day, the 1997 Synod for the America and the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist. He calls them all “extraordinary experiences and very, very spiritual moments.”

Archbishop Wuerl discusses the significance of the upcoming synod in an article in the October issue of St. Anthony Messenger entitled, “Unlocking the Word of God.” Assistant Editor Susan Hines-Brigger interviewed Wuerl by telephone. After September 22 the article will be posted at:

What is the purpose of these synods? The goal, says Archbishop Wuerl, is to “bring a number of bishops from around the world who would be reflective of the Church Universal.” There are also male and female observers, ecumenical delegates, experts and staff members. In early June, the Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, was released to synod participants. It was developed from responses to a questionnaire sent to dioceses last year, and will serve as the discussion guide for the synod.

“The most challenging part of the synod is when you get down to the last days and you’re trying to pull together all the thoughts so that you actually have what they call propositions. But certainly one of the most rewarding parts is the discussion itself,” Archbishop Wuerl says. Once the propositions are agreed to, Pope Benedict XVI takes over. Synod participants turn over the fruits of their discussions to the pope, and he begins crafting an apostolic exhortation based on the points they raised.

For many Catholics, the concept of a synod may be foreign. But Archbishop Wuerl believes that Catholics should care and be interested because the topic of Scripture is so central to our faith. “Today, we live in an era where evangelization is so important. And we keep talking about the new evangelization bringing back to the faith people who have drifted away and opening up the hearts of people to the meaning of the Gospel. Knowing the Word and being immersed in it is very important,” he says.

What this synod will not be doing, says Archbishop Wuerl, is looking at Scripture “as an object of academic study.” Instead, he says, “What it’s going to be looking at is how the Word of God touches the believer, spiritually. How does the Word of God permeate the ministry of the Church pastorally? How does the Word of God give life to the faithful?”

And that, he says, is the part that is most attractive to him. “We’re going to be asked to look at the Word of God in its widest context, not just the pages of sacred Scripture but the whole idea of the Word of God made flesh, come among us, heard in the proclamation of the Word made visible in the celebration of the sacraments, and verified in the lives of faithful people.”


Permission is granted to reprint this release.

The second article posted will be,
“Sydney’s World Youth Day: ‘Very Cool Way’ to Connect” by Maria Zarick.


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