By Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Part 3 of 6
This has been a week of listening. Since Monday morning we have heard
138 speeches. The introductory ones which gave an overview of the
Synod process and of the general questions that we are supposed to
treat were quite long. The rest were considerably shorter. Each participant
in the Synod has the right, which almost all participants exercise,
to make one intervention in the general sessions, not to exceed eight
There is a screen
in the front of the room that tells the speaker when he has three
minutes to go, then two, then one. If the speaker continues after
his last minute is expired, the sound is gradually turned down until
the speaker is speaking without amplification. It's an effective
system of time control. (Sometimes when the speaker is going too
fast for the simultaneous translators, the screen flashes Rallentare,
The speakers are
supposed to address themselves to subjects suggested by the working
paper that we received ahead of time, but the only order in the
presentations is the order in which the prepared texts were handed
in to the Synod secretariat. You learn when you are going to speak
from the list that is read out at the beginning of each session.
Several themes were
addressed with some frequency during the past week: the role and
influence of communications media in the modern world and in spreading
the gospel; economic and cultural globalization; the
effect of well-financed religious sects on the Church in Latin America;
the need to do something about the international debt; the need
for personal spirituality and prayerful contact with Christ; the
role of the family in the Church's mission; the parish as a basic
vehicle for evangelization.
I chose to speak
about lay ministry: the debt of gratitude we owe to lay ministers
and the need for clarity about the nature of lay ministry. Three
or four other members also addressed this theme.
One bishop spoke
about the blessings that come to a local Church from generosity
to other Churches in greater need. Another spoke about the heartbreak
of ministering to native peoples whose human and political rights
are systematically violated.
There is no discussion
of these subjects as they are presented in the general sessions.
That comes later when the Synod participants meet in smaller language
groups. It's not particularly easy to sit there hour after hour
listening to one presentation after another, but it does give one
an idea of the extent of the challenges that face the Church, and
the breadth of the material that is connected with evangelization,
conversion, communion and solidarity in America.
The Holy Father
has been present for every general session. He sits in the front
of the room and listens just like the rest of us. He seems older
than when I saw him last and obviously has some health problems,
but he seems to grow more and more energetic as the days go by.
He obviously enjoys contact with his brother bishops.
It's not all work
of course. Last night there was a concert (which included a Bach
chorale) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope
Paul VI. On Wednesday all the U.S. participants in the Synod (including,
in addition to bishops, ecumenical observers, priests, men and women
religious, and lay women and men) had an elegant dinner at the North
American College. Earlier in the week a dozen or so of us bishops
staying at the St. Martha House walked across the yard to concelebrate
Mass at St. Peter's for the liturgical feast of the dedication of
the basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Please keep us in
your prayers. There is plenty of hard work still ahead.
Most Rev. Daniel
Archbishop of Cincinnati
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