By Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Part 2 of 6
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 Latingiving thanks
for Christ's passion, death and resurrection and looking forward
in hope to his second comingI 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
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 fruitfulnesshopefully without
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.
Most Rev. Daniel
Archbishop of Cincinnati
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