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September 2005


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Synod on The Eucharist: Source and Summit
Pope Benedict XVI has confirmed that the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be celebrated on the theme: “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church,” and decreed that it be held in the Vatican from October 2 to 23, 2005.

The president’s delegates of the Synod are: Cardinals Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, Juan Sandoval Iniguez, Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico and Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India. The relator general is Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy and the special secretary is Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France.

The Bishops nominated to represent the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales are Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, President of the Bishops’ Conference and Archbishop of Westminster, and Bishop Brian Noble, Bishop of Shrewsbury and chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Spirituality Committee.

As in preceding synods, the number of participants will be about 250. However there will be a notable increase in the representatives of denominations and ecclesial communities invited to the Synod. At the last synod representatives of six churches and Christian communities participated, now 12 representatives have been invited from Orthodox Churches, the ancient churches of the East and communities that arose from the Reformation.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the synod, has highlighted other innovative features of this Synod, all approved by Pope Benedict.
Previous Synods have lasted a whole month, as this was originally intended to. This synod now last ‘only’ three weeks, so that Bishops need not be so long absent from their Dioceses and to foster greater concentration during the discussions.

Each participant will be able to address the Synod for six minutes, not eight, as in the past. The limitation on the length of the more formal individual addresses to the Synod will free up time and allow for an hour’s free discussion every day at the end of the general congregation of the Synod. The hope is that this innovation will allow members to request and obtain more information from synodal fathers who have already spoken in the assembly hall, and make possible an open exchange of points of view and experiences on the most important current issues connected with the mystery of the Eucharist.”

The discussions will take place in the Synod’s five official languages: Italian, French, English, Spanish and German. In the past, some participants spoke in Latin.

Archbishop Eterovic notes that these various changes are all intended to make dialogue easier and more beneficial among the synodal fathers in the exercise of effective and affective collegiality among themselves and with the Holy Father, visible head of the episcopal order. They provide a clear indication of a pastoral priority of the ministry of John Paul II and of the work of renewal to which the Church is called to commit herself.

There will be 12 working groups, each of which will present proposals reflecting the fruits of their respective deliberations. These will then be voted on and, as approved by the Synod, will then be submitted to Pope Benedict for his consideration. Following the Synod the Holy Father will then write the postsynodal apostolic exhortation, his own teaching on the theme of the Synod, informed by the reflections of the Synod fathers.
The Synod’s working paper, the Instrumentum Laboris, has been published. It was prepared from the responses received from Bishops’ Conferences, Synods of Bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches; the 25 dicasteries of the Roman Curia; and the Union of Superiors General of religious congregations and orders. Numerous submissions were also received from individual members of the clergy, religious and lay faithful.

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