Synod Journal
Synod Journal
By Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Part 1 of 6

An historic meeting of bishops, convened by the Holy Father, will begin in Rome on November 16: the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America. This will be a gathering of bishops from the 24 bishops' conferences of the western hemisphere (North, South, Central America and the Caribbean). Also attending are the heads of the administrative offices of the Holy See and specially invited non-bishop observers.

It is one of a series of "continental synodal assemblies" called by Pope John Paul II in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. (An assembly for Africa was held in 1994, and other assemblies for Asia, Oceania, and Europe will take place before the Jubilee Year begins.)

The purpose of the Synod for America is to discuss how best to preach the gospel of the living Jesus and the ways in which that gospel is heard. That encounter with Jesus is the basic mission of the Church. It is the fundamental theme of the Jubilee Year 2000.

More specifically, the participants in the synod will give their attention to 1) fostering a new evangelization, a new presentation of the good news of redemption throughout the hemisphere; 2) increasing solidarity (unity and collaboration) in pastoral activity among the various particular churches; and 3) studying the problems of justice and economic relations among the nations of America. These are wide ranging subjects that, in one way or another, address almost every aspect of the Church's life and work.

In other synodal assemblies, there has been a more tightly focused theme (e.g., priesthood, family, reconciliation) that provided unity and direction to the assembly's work. The Synod for America will find its unifying point in what has been called "the common Christian identity" of the countries of the hemisphere and their common historical experience.

All the countries represented in the synod have historical Christian roots in some way or other and they are all "young countries," at least in the context of a 2,000-year-old Church. Moreover, they all express, to some degree, at least, a plurality of cultural expressions resulting from the mix of native peoples and immigrants, some of whom came freely and some of whom were brought to the New World against their wills. All of us Americans have a lot in common. That common ground will provide the framework for the assembly's work.

I will be attending the Synod for America as an elected delegate of the bishops' conference of the United States. It won't be a new experience for me, since I was at the general synod of 1990 (which discussed priestly formation), a special assembly for Europe in 1991 (convened to discuss the implications of the fall of Communism), and a general conference of Latin American bishops that was held in Santo Domingo in 1992.

I know that meetings of this kind can be demanding—and sometimes tedious, but I also know that each one brings its own particular blessings to the participants. I look forward to seeing old friends, learning about the gifts and challenges of the faith in other countries, deepening my knowledge of evangelization and pastoral solidarity and social justice—and maybe even contributing something to the discussion.

Most of all, I expect that being a participant in this assembly will be a precious new experience of the breadth and diversity of the universal Church.

I look forward to sharing the experience with you via this exciting new medium of the Internet.

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk signature

Most Rev. Daniel E. Pilarczyk,
Archbishop of Cincinnati

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