Analysis From
a Brazilian Franciscan

By Father Antonio Moser, O.F.M., S.T.D.
translated from Portuguese by Fred Radtke, O.F.M..

Last of six parts

The Synod's Final Message

The Synod for America ended officially December 12. In the end the bishops wanted to send a message, proclaiming to all that it is Jesus Christ—alive, among us and full of love for us—who gives us the strength to live as sons and daughters of God. The bishops wanted also to share with the people of God what they themselves discovered: joys, concerns, challenges and hopes.

Joys and concerns

The motive for joy is that millions of Catholics—with devotion to the Lord, his Mother, and to the Church—remain faithful to Christian practice. Families in the midst of many difficulties place themselves at the service of life. They seek Christian education of children. And there are other causes for joy: a multitude of active laypeople; women who have exercised an important role in the construction and evangelization of a New world; children, youth, bishops priests, men and women of religious life; seminarians, parishes and communities of faith, martyrs both known and unknown. All act, in their own way, in benefit of the Kingdom and the building up of the Body of Christ in this New World.

Yet the Church of the Americas knows not only joys. She carries with herself a series of concerns: The affliction of so many families that break up and the many that come up against poverty or other difficulties coming from modern life; youth, especially the poor and migrants, minors of street, seasonal workers "who struggle in order to take their place at the table of the rich." There are also the concerns of the minority groups, victims of discrimination and hostility.

In the midst of these concerns, three stand out boldly: The situation of indigenous peoples, the descendants of Africans and the poor. The indigenous and African-Americans suffered and continue to suffer from injustices that have been forced on them. The indigenous, because they were exploited for five centuries by greedy and violent hands, still today do not participate in the abundant fruit of the earth. The Afro-Americans, continue to suffer because "the wounds of those terrible centuries of slavery still cause pain in their souls."

Those who merit greater emphasis, however, are those afflicted by poverty. Here I quote and reference the paragraph numbers of the Synod's final document: "Of all of the concerns of the People of God that echoed in the hall of this special Synod for America, the cry of the poor was heard with special attention" (#29). The reference to the poor and those who suffer necessity is valid as much for those of North American as well as of South America (#31). Those who live alone, "especially, the aged, those rejected by their families, the sick and the abandoned" (#27), complete the already ample list of the new faces of poverty.

Challenges and hopes

In a rather daunting sentence, the Synod document points out some of the major challenges for a New Evangelization: "The necessity of witness of faith and of the saints, of priestly vocations and the consecrated life, which manifest the activity of the grace of God in the world, missionaries to concretize a New Evangelization, but in a way that expresses collaboration between the churches of the North and of the South, the means of social communication to make a 'new culture' which preserves and promotes personal and social values, a society open to the faith and its messengers, those who influence public opinion that they remain with us in defense of the Gospel of Life, against abortion and euthanasia...."

The last paragraphs of the message return to the theme, "Jesus Christ, our hope" (see 1 Tm 1,1). In spite of it all, it is necessary to not lose heart because Jesus Christ who overcame the world, continues alive and accompanies us on the journey. We can meet him in our neighbor, in prayer, in His Word, in the miracle of creation, in the sacraments, especially in Reconciliation and in the Eucharist. If we go to meet this Christ, we will be able to nourish our hopes in a new world, constructed in communion and solidarity.

The Synod's surprises

By way of concluding this series, I would observe that this Synod brought some surprises. The first of them appeared early in the title "Synod for America," in the singular. It deals with a methodological option: to begin with what unites in order to overcome the eventual divergences along the road. A second surprise is found at the level of the themes assumed in relation to some less peaceful topics. This is the case, for example, of the basic Christian communities: The accent was highly positive. It could be said that either basic Christian communities changed or time has undertaken to show that the benefits far outweigh the accidental "dangers," rising out of some exaggeration.

Another surprise could be found in a highly explosive question: the "sects." As we have seen, some participants' interventions were in the sense of an alert against the evils resulting from that. But, in the end, it must be said that a kind of "mea culpa" predominated. There was an admission that the Church has not been responsive enough in areas of greater suffering.There was a consequent proposal of investing more in this direction.

The Synod has ended, but not the Synodal process. A post-Synod commission was already named to implement the decisions that were made. The benefits can only be harvested with time. This is not only in a comprehensive direction, but even more in a pastoral, practical direction. For it is the practical pastoral action that makes up the true test of greater assimilation less than the grand ecclesiastical events.

Those of us within the Franciscan family feel a special responsibility. It falls to us, Franciscan brothers and sisters, well within the spirit of our founder, to be more diligent in putting into practice the exhortations of our bishops, especially in regards to the poor and the marginalized, and with a new spirit of ardor towards anyone we must evangelize.

(Father Antonio Moser, O.F.M., is a Franciscan theologian from the Immaculate Conception Province in Brazil. He is a professor at the Franciscan Theological Institute in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro, and is in Rome to accompany closely this momentous event. Father Fred Radtke, O.F.M., formerly a missionary in Brazil, now ministers at St. Peter's Parish in Chicago.)

Return to Synod Journal Home
Paid Advertisement
Ads contrary to Catholic teachings should be reported to our webmaster. Include ad link.

An Web Site from the Franciscans and
Franciscan Media     ©1996-2016 Copyright