Synod Journal
Synod Journal
By Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Part 2 of 6

Sunday, November 16, 1997

This morning the Synod for America began with a Mass in which the participants of the Synod concelebrated with the Holy Father. I enjoyed greeting old friends as we vested for the ceremony: bishops from Canada, Jamaica, Honduras, and the Republic of Congo (who is representing the association of African bishops' conferences), as well as officials of the Holy See. There were about 300 concelebrants in all.

The Scripture readings for this 33rd Sunday of the year deal with the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. In his homily the Holy Father spoke of God's plan for salvation which is gradually unfolding over the centuries and which will come to a conclusion when Christ will take all things to himself in the final kingdom.

One chapter in the unfolding of this plan is the coming and spreading of the gospel in the New World. The Holy Father spoke of the diversity of America (north, south, central and the Caribbean) as well as the Christian roots that the countries of the New World have in common. He said he looked forward to a new commitment to the task of evangelization, a new sense of pastoral cooperation, a new awareness of the need to strive for justice throughout the whole Western Hemisphere.

As usual in these celebrations the readings and the prayers of petition were in many languages. This time the languages of the liturgy were the official languages of the Synod (Spanish, Portuguese, French and English) as well as the native American languages Maya and Quechua. As we prayed the Eucharistic Prayer together in Latin—giving thanks for Christ's passion, death and resurrection and looking forward in hope to his second coming—I was reminded again of the catholicity of the Church. It is universal among cultures and languages, but also is inclusive across history, stretching toward final fulfillment in Christ.

The Office of the Synod has provided the participants with lots of preliminary documentation. We have copies of the Instrumentum Laboris, a working paper that summarizes all the preliminary input for the subject matter for this session. There is also a handbook that provides the rules of the Synod's operation and a schedule of the sessions and events.

Finally, there is a list of the participants, from which I learned that I have been appointed to the Commissio Controversiarum, a small committee that is supposed to deal with disputes. All these documents serve to indicate that the working of the Synod has been carefully prepared so as to provide for maximum fruitfulness—hopefully without disputes.

The first working session is tomorrow (November 17). On almost every day for the next four weeks we participants will meet from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then again from 5 to 7 in the evening. Each participant will have an assigned seat and will be expected to sign an attendance card for each session.

I am lodged at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a kind of ecclesiastical boarding house inside the Vatican about 100 yards from St. Peter's Basilica and a three-minute walk from the hall where the Synod's sessions will take place. This is a new building that will also serve to lodge the cardinals when the next conclave to elect a pope occurs. About 20 of the 30 or so U.S. participants are staying here.

I hope that people everywhere will support this gathering of bishops with their prayers so that the Synod will fully realize the goal that has been set for it: an encounter with the living Jesus Christ, the way to conversion, communion, and solidarity in America.

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk signature

Most Rev. Daniel E. Pilarczyk,
Archbishop of Cincinnati

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