By Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Last of 6 parts
The Synod is over. Its closing acts were a Mass in St. Peter's concelebrated
with the pope (which included prayers in Cree and Guarani) and a banquet
for all the Synod's members at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
These last days have
been busy, in a way. We put the finishing touches on the message
that the Synod fathers issued to the people of God in America and
throughout the world. I found it a moving document, filled with
hope. It gives a good idea of the tone and focus of the Synod.
We also finished
drafting the propositions that we left behind for the pope’s consideration
and use in drafting an apostolic exhortation. This involved preliminary
work in the language groups, the preparation of a master list in
Latin, the amending of the master list and final voting on the amended
propositions. We ended up with a 67-page document that contains
76 propositions, ranging in subject matter from the centrality of
Christ in the life of the Church to foreign debt and the arms race.
Both the message
and the propositions were read aloud in their entirety (a total
of 80 pages) to the full assembly of the bishops. This kept the
Synod fathers occupied, but certainly not intently focused at every
Some of us suggested
to the Synod's general secretariat that we might have been able
to read these documents for ourselves and then come back together
to discuss them, but we were told that, in some cultural contexts,
a document doesn't have any standing if it hasn't actually been
spoken. Later one of the Argentinean bishops told me that every
word that is issued by their conference has to be read aloud in
full assembly. It would be interesting to see how that would play
out in our U.S. bishops' conference!
So what did the Synod
finally accomplish? We are leaving behind for the pope not just
a collection of propositions and the amendments that were proposed,
but also the early working documents, the text of the formal intervention
of each Synod participant, the summaries of these interventions
and of our small group discussions and the message. My guess is
that this will make a pile of documentation about four-and-a-half
feet high which the pope will use in preparing his final word on
the Synod. If there is a "product" of the Synod, it's this stack
But as the weeks
passed, it became clearer to me that the real heart of the Synod
was not the product but the process. As the pope put it in his closing
remarks at the last general gathering, these days were a real grace
from the Lord to us. We lived a special encounter with the living
Christ, we walked a path of growth and conversion, of communion
and solidarity. The purposes for which the Synod was called have
already been fulfilled, at least in a preliminary way, in our interaction
during these four weeks.
For me the Synod
was a profound experience of the presence and action of Christ in
his Church. To be sure there are lots of problems to be dealt with:
exploitation, violence, corruption, drug dependency, as well as
extremes of wealth and poverty. But beyond all that, we learned
from each other that Christ is alive in our midst for the salvation
of the world: in Chile and Brazil, in the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe
and the Netherlands Antilles, in Panama, in Quebec and Prince George,
British Columbia, as well as in San Francisco, Newark, and Cincinnati.
It's a living Church because it's the extension of the living Christ.
I'm on by way home
now. In a few hours I'll be back in Cincinnati, and tonight I will
sleep in my own bed again.
Thanks be to God
Most Rev. Daniel
Archbishop of Cincinnati
Return to Synod Journal Home