Speeches 1983 - Friday, 15 April 1983
Dear brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,
It is a great joy for me to welcome you here today, so soon after your ordination to the Diaconate. You have entered into a new phase in your relationship with Christ, one that has marked you for special service among the People of God.
Yours is a ministry of love that manifests itself in an intense commitment to the word of God and to the practice of charity, just like Stephen and the others who were chosen by the Apostles in the early Christian community.
Although your time as deacons aims at preparing you for more extensive ecclesial service as Priests of Jesus Christ, I ask you, nonetheless, to accept generously the call which the Lord has given you. You are ministers of the word: Let the word of God speak to your hearts; let it be the source of your communion with Christ; let it guide your every action. Then you will know the happiness that Saint Paul speaks of when he says, “For me, to live is Christ”.
I also welcome those who accompany you: Your parents, relatives, friends and teachers - all those who through their love, support and encouragement have brought to this moment and who sustain you with their prayers.
I ask the Risen Savior to confirm you in his grace so that you may proclaim the Gospel message with joy and hope.
God bless you all.
1. It is a pleasure for me to meet the members of the Trilateral Commission, and it is also, and perhaps especially, an occasion for reflection. For I am aware that you represent a rare concentration of ability, expert knowledge and experience. This great accumulation of knowledge in the political, economic, financial and sociological spheres provides you with the means of considerable power. And how can power be exercised morally of it is not accompanied by an acute sense of responsibility?
It is not for me to interfere in your technological researches. However, the subject of your work is so closely connected with human beings that you constantly find yourselves at the frontier between technology and ethics. this respect I am very much interested in your work on East-West relations, international co-operation, the search for peace in the Middle East, and arms limitation, as well as other issues.
This ethical dimension of your activity is heightened by your geographical origins. You all come from the wealthy parts of this world, and for this reason your have a responsibility for encouraging people to face their duty of international human solidarity, for, as my predecessor Paul VI said in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio, “This duty is the concern especially of better-off nations” (PAULI VI Populorum Progressio PP 44).
Again, when one speaks of human solidarity and politics, and international solidarity and politics in particular, one cannot forget the words of John XXIII: “the same moral law, which governs relations between individual human beings, serves also to regulate the relations of political communities with one another” (IOANNIS XXIII Pacem in Terris, III). International solidarity applies not only to the relations between nations but also to all the instruments of relations between nations, including those at the level of government and of multinational companies. In every sphere there are ethical and moral exigencies. These ethical and moral exigencies touch the many factors of technology and bear directly on the productivity and profit of enterprises, as I have alluded to in Laborem Exercens (Cfr. IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Laborem Exercens LE 17). In a word, all activity must be at the service of life - the life of individuals and communities wherever they may be - and this activity must not violate the laws of life, the generation of life, the dignity of life, especially the life of the poor.
2. I am pleased to learn that you are spending these days discussing a study of strategies of development - a study which must emphasise the double effort to be made: on the one hand by the poorer countries, to secure their self-development; and on the other hand by the richer countries, to create economic and trading conditions that will help to meet the essential needs of the people in the developing regions, and that will also favour a more just sharing of resources.
But here I ask myself a question - a question that I put to you as well: why, at the end of the first third of the Third Development Decade is the global situation of North-South relations more alarming than it was at the beginning of the sixties? Why is the gap between rich and poor constantly growing wider? In reply, one may point to the energy crisis of the seventies, which brought the developed world itself face-to-face with a striking number of social challenges. Permit me to mention, as a complement to this, the inadequate attention given to one of the main themes of Populorum Progressio: “The integral development of the human person”.
It is an illusion to pursue solely material development. Everything, including the dynamisms of production and profit themselves, is rooted in the awareness of human dignity. Attacking this dignity weakens all efforts for development. On the other hand, creating social, cultural and spiritual conditions which protect people from all situations of oppression, exploitation and degrading dependence is a guarantee of the success of development projects. “In brief, to seek to do more, know more and have more in order to be more” (PAULI VI Populorum Progressio PP 6)).
3. In addition, peaceful relations between peoples equally figure among your concerns. This is a matter much more closely connected with development than appears at first sight, for the ethical truth that I have just evoked is at the root of authentic peace. Certainly, one must not neglect the patient efforts of negotiators, or studies full of technical solutions that would make it possible to fix the balance of power at an ever lower level. On numerous occasion I have encouraged them. At the beginning of the year, I devoted a Message to the importance of dialogue as a means for guaranteeing security. This presupposes, of course, that such dialogue is sincere, is without deception, and is free of any intention of deceiving the other party.
Here I would repeat in your presence what has already been proclaimed before the United Nations: “The production and the possession of armaments are a consequence of an ethical crisis that is disrupting society in all its political, social and economic dimensions”. Peace, as I have already said several times, is the result of respect for ethical principles. True disarmament, that which will actually guarantee peace among peoples, will come about only with the resolution of the ethical crisis. To the extent that the efforts at arms reduction and then of total disarmament are not matched by parallel ethical renewal, they are doomed in advance to failure.
“The attempt must be made to put our world aright and to eliminate the spiritual confusion born from a narrow-minded search for interest or privilege or by the defence of ideological claims: this is a task of first priority if we wish to measure any progress in the struggle for disarmament. Otherwise we are condemned to remain at face-saving activities” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Nuntius scripto datus de apparatus militaris imminutione ex condicto facienda, ab Augustino S.R.E. Presbytero Cardinali Casaroli, a publicis Ecclesiae negotiis, in plenario conventu organismi ONU nuncupati, recitatus, 12, die 7 iun. 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V/2  2141).
As you see, in the spheres with which you concern yourselves with competence, it is impossible to separate technology and ethics. Without the aid of ethics, political activity does not secure the common good but becomes an unbearable and detestable exploitation of man by man.
And so I would urge you to continue with good will your efforts and researches without ever neglecting or transgression the moral dimension of international relation - and to do everything for the service of the human person.
And many God, the Creator of the human person and the Lord of life, render effective your contribution to humanity and implant peace in your own hearts.
I extend a warm greeting to all the members of the delegation organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles. I am very pleased to welcome you to the Vatican today, and in this way to further the continuing religious dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Such meetings as ours deepen bonds of friendship and trust and help us to appreciate more fully the richness of our common heritage as people who believe in the one Lord and God who has revealed himself to man.
As Christians and Jews, as children of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing for the world (cf. Gen Gn 12,2 ss.), especially by our witness in faith to God, the source of all life, and by our commitment to work together for the establishment of true peace and justice among all peoples and nations. Taking up the way of dialogue and mutual collaboration, we deepen bonds of friendship and trust among ourselves and offer to others a sign of hope for the future.
I am happy to know that your itinerary has included a visit to Poland to commemorate the Fortieth Anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Just recently, speaking of that horrible and tragic event of history, I said: “It was a desperate cry for the right to life, for liberty and for the salvation of human dignity . . . Paying homage to the memory of these innocent victims, we pray: may the Eternal God accept this sacrifice for the well-being and the salvation of the world”.
May God bless you and your families with harmony and peace. May he bless you with the fullness of Shalom.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
1. Your ad limina visit is an event which we are living and celebrating together, in the charity of Christ and in the unity of his Church. This visit gives us the opportunity to reflect together on the ministry that is yours as Bishops, as pastors of God’s people in Ontario, in the Military Vicariate and in the Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius of Toronto.
But even more it is an opportunity for us to offer to Jesus Christ “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Petr. 5, 4) of the Church, all the pastoral efforts, initiatives and endeavours that are performed in his name, in obedience to his will, and through the sacred charism of the Episcopate. Your ad Limina visit is the occasion for rendering pastoral accountability to Jesus Christ, for renewing your love for him and his Church, and for placing fresh trust and confidence in the immense sanctifying power of his Paschal Mystery. It is also the occasion for me, as your Brother in the Episcopal College, as the Successor of Peter, to offer you a word of encouragement, understanding and fraternal love - indeed, to confirm you in your profession and teaching of the Catholic faith.
2. I also wish to bear witness at this time to what has been achieved in your local Churches. Certainly, the power of the Gospel has been at work in the hearts of the faithful and has sustained you and your priests and deacons in generous pastoral zeal. Even though, in all realism, we must admit that the obstacles to Christian living in today’s world are formidable, we still proclaim that the saving grace of Christ is much more powerful than sin and human weakness (Cfr. Rom Rm 5,20).
I am grateful to you and to your people for everything you have done to live the Gospel, to transmit it in all its purity and power to the young people, and to provide for its transmission to future generations. With great effort you have dedicated special attention to Catholic education and to Catholic Schools at the various levels. All of this has a direct and important bearing on the faith of God’s people and deserves your continued pastoral vigilance and involvement.
It is a credit to the grace of Christ, to your zeal and to the commitment of your people how you have worked to foster a sense of shared responsibility among the faithful. This sense of shared responsibility among the faithful, manifested in a personal sense of ecclesial mission, is undoubtedly one of the greatest blessings that has come to the Church through the Second Vatican Council.
In so many important projects you have worked together, as a united ecclesial community, to proclaim Gospel values, to defend human dignity and to build up the Kingdom of God on earth. All your concerted efforts made in the Pro-life area against whatever wounds, weakens or destroys life are truly worthy of praise and support. Your willingness to welcome immigrants to your land and to assist them in their new life is one of many authentic expressions of your Christian charity. The exercise of your pastoral responsibility for promoting vocations and in training candidates for the priesthood and religious life according to the Magisterium of the Church is a matter of extreme importance for the life of your local Churches. Your desire to foster ecumenism according to the conciliar directives and in union with the universal Church, as well as your pastoral commitment to promote lay movements of the apostolate and to provide for the pastoral care of the young people - all these are but aspects of your single goal to proclaim the Good News of salvation and to announce to everyone “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ep 3,8).
3. The apostolate of the Church is varied and there are many different approaches to it. The Church is called upon to render manifold service in the name of Jesus Christ. Today I would limit myself to proposing to your pastoral reflection, in the light of the last Synod of Bishops, a few considerations on the Church at the service of the family. Precisely because “the future of humanity passes by way of the family” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 86), we are deeply convinced, as pastors, of the need to defend the family, to assist it, to encourage it; we are deeply convinced of the need to proclaim the vocation and mission of the family in the modern world.
In my Apostolic Exhortation on the Family I emphasized a particular aspect of the family’s role in the world, stating that “the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love” (Ibid.12). This mission is intimately related to the central message of revelation, which is the great fact that God loves his people and has sent his Son to redeem them. In the words of Jesus: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son . . . not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved” (Jn 3,16-17).
As Bishops we are not able to make the obstacles to Christian living disappear; we are not in a position to lift all the burdens that weigh upon our Christian families; and much less are we authorized to attempt to remove the Cross from Christianity. But we are in a position to proclaim the great dignity of marriage, its identity as an image and symbol and expression of God’s everlasting and unbreakable covenant of love with his Church. We are able to love the family and in this pastoral love to offer it the only criterion for the real solution to the problems that it faces. This criterion is the word of God: the word of God in all its purity and power, in all its integrity and with all its demands - the word of God as transmitted by the Church.
The proclamation of the Good News of God’s love reflected in conjugal love and married life is one of the greatest contributions we can make to our people, one of the best ways we can show them our total support, and help them to live the Sacrament of Marriage. With sacramental grace married couples are able to understand their dignity and they are prepared to make serious efforts to live their mission “to guard, reveal and communicate love”. But all of this presupposes that the Church continues steadfastly to speak to the Christian family, in the name of Jesus, constantly manifesting the family’s true identity according to the Lord’s plan, which is revealed in Sacred Scripture and Tradition and attested to by the Holy Spirit through the Magisterium of the Church.
4. As pastors we have a ministry of love to fulfill towards the family and this ministry of love expresses itself in prayer, support, encouragement and service. It means constantly proclaiming the truth of God’s plan for marriage, as long as the Lord gives us strength to preach. I also mentioned in my Apostolic Exhortation that “loving the family means identifying the dangers and evils that menace it, in order to overcome them. Loving the family means endeavoring to create for it an environment favourable for its development” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 86). All of this is a personal program for the hierarchy, but one in which all sectors of the People of God can make a magnificent contribution.
Precisely in the context of the family’s mission “to guard, reveal and communicate love”, we Bishops are constantly called upon to present as clearly and faithfully and effectively as possible the Church’s teaching on marriage as a community of life and love, an indivisible unity, and an indissoluble communion. And it is up to us to solicit and encourage the collaboration of the whole Church - and also the contribution of other men and women of good will - to support the family in its daily pilgrimage to the Father, to assist it in its problems and to sustain it in its Christian convictions.
This concerted effort has been amply shown and deserves to be encouraged even more in the question of lawful birth regulation. As I mentioned in Familiaris Consortio, the Church notes with satisfaction the results already achieved by scientific research, but feels compelled “to call with new vigour on the responsibility of all - doctors, experts, marriage counsellors, teachers and married couples - who can actually help married people to live their love with respect for the structure and finalities of the conjugal act which expresses that love” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 35). From the pastoral point of view, the personal attention that Bishops devote to assisting couples who are endeavouring to live their human and Christian vocation of married love to the full deserves the profound gratitude and praise of the universal Church. The zeal of the Bishop will always elicit the collaboration and confidence of the ecclesial community.
5. Beaucoup d’autres aspects de la famille requièrent le soutien des évêques et de toute la communauté ecclésiale. Parmi eux il y a la mission et le ministère du couple dans l’éducation de leurs enfants afin qu’ils parviennent a une pleine maturité humaine et chrétienne. Ici encore, il s’agit, pour nous évêques, de proclamer l’identité et la dignité de la vie dans le mariage chrétien. Dans la force de l’Esprit Saint, nous devons aussi éveiller une confiance et une certitude nouvelles dans le peuple confie A nos soins, afin qu’il réalise en lui la grandeur de l’amour conjugal. Nous ne devons pas nous lasser de proclamer que “le mariage chrétien . . . est en lui-même un acte liturgique de glorification de Dieu dans le Christ Jésus et dans l’Eglise” (Ibid. 56).
Enfin, c’est à travers la prière - la prière familiale et celle de toute l’Eglise - que le renouveau du mariage chrétien s’effectuera, et avec lui, pour une grande part, le renouveau, la conversion et l’évangélisation du monde.
Chers et vénérés Frères dans l’épiscopat, plaçons fermement notre confiance dans la puissance du Seigneur ressuscite pour fortifier l’alliance de l’amour conjugal dans cette génération de l’Eglise. Et unissons tous nos efforts pour proclamer de façon toujours plus efficace que cet amour a été racheté, que le mariage chrétien est vraiment le plan du Seigneur pour l’accomplissement de l’homme et que la famille est pour Dieu la façon particulière “de garder, révéler et communiquer l’amour”.
Puisse Marie, la mère de Jésus, vous assister dans votre ministère pastoral au service de la famille et emplir vos coeurs de joie profonde et de paix! A travers vous, j’adresse mon salut a tous les fidèles de vos Eglises locales, a votre clergé, aux religieux et aux laïcs, et, en particulier, aux familles chrétiennes. Je bénis spécialement les malades et ceux qui souffrent, et j’assure ceux qui connaissent la solitude de ma proximité dans la prière. A toutes les communautés ecclésiales dont vous êtes les serviteurs, les pasteurs et les messagers de paix, je dis mon affection en Jésus-Christ notre Sauveur!
It gives me great pleasure today to welcome to the Vatican this interdenominational group of visitors from Sri Lanka.
You have expressed a desire for this encounter. It is my hope that your brief visit will leave you with many pleasant memories. The buildings you see, and their many works of art, especially Saint Peter’s Basilica, honour the memory of the first of Christ’s Apostles, Peter, the fisherman from Galilee. I pray that your visit to his tomb may give you a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church and of her role of service to mankind. May this meeting serve to further the cause of harmony and collaboration between the different religious traditions present in your country.
My prayerful best wishes go to each one of you, and I raise my heart in prayer to Almighty God invoking abundant blessings upon the people of Sri Lanka.
Dear Friends in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Already nearly a year has passed since I had the pleasure of meeting some of you for an all-too brief discussion in the Deanery of Canterbury, but the memory of that day - indeed of all those days in Britain - is still fresh in my mind. Wherever I went the “ecumenical dimension” was not just some sort of additional extra; it was an integral part of the events of those days and showed clearly that, as I remarked soon after my return to Rome, “Christianity in Great Britain is an important ecumenical terrain” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Allocutio in Audientia generali, 2, die 9 iun. 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V/2  2153).
And now, in response to the invitation I extended at that meeting at Canterbury, you have come to Rome “to build further on the foundations so happily laid” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Allocutio ad responsabiles Ecclesiarum christianuarum in cathedrali templo Cantuariensi habita, 3, die 29 maii 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V/2  1950) on that occasion. For this I thank you most sincerely; I know that you all have demanding responsibilities and that it cannot have been easy for you all to find mutually convenient dates to come here together in this way for a series of meetings with the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and with some other offices of the Roman Curia. You have prepared these meetings carefully in a series of consultations between the leaders of the British Churches gathered by the British Council of Churches and the representatives named by the two Episcopal Conferences of Great Britain to accompany you. I dare to hope that this preparatory collaboration will itself prove to have made a contribution to the growth of closer relationships between the Churches you represent and the Catholic Church in your countries.
The topics that our discussions led you to propose for this week’s meetings are an accurate reflection of the stage we have now reached in our common pilgrimage towards the re-establishment between us of the unity that God wills. Already through our one Baptism we are in a communion that is real, but as yet that communion between us is not full and perfect. As we attempt to bear witness together, we are expressing, and thereby strengthening, that degree of baptismal unity which God’s grace already enables us to enjoy. And as we examine those other questions and problems that arise as we seek to grow together - and we feel them more sharply as we grow closer - we are humbly acknowledging that our journey is not yet over and that in our journeying we are in total need of the grace of God, a grace on which we can most surely rely, “such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God” (2Co 3,4).
It is significant that the question of the Christian witness to peace should have first place on your programme, for surely this is an extremely urgent problem that faces the Church and the world today. But time does not allow me to comment on the individual topics you have been discussing. I would like to put before you a thought that is perhaps more general but yet, I am sure, very practical.
Work for Christian unity has an undeniable and irreplaceable local quality, its own resources and its own initiatives in response to local circumstances. But it must at the same time look to the whole oikoumene; otherwise it will fall short of its true aim.
For this reason the Catholic Episcopal Conferences in your own countries have the task of taking the relevant decisions in many matters of common Christian concern and, in major matters, of doing this in consultation with the Holy See, in order to ensure and to strengthen their bonds of communion with their brother Bishops and with the Bishop of Rome, who is called to serve the unity of all. But in such matters of common concern they act also in consultation with leaders of other Communions, and I am glad to know that in the countries from which you come there are plans for closer consultations on some of the fundamental questions that face all Christians today, and on how to ensure the local progress of the ecumenical movement. All the World Christian Communions you represent are already in dialogue at international level with the Catholic Church. These dialogues may be at different stages of development, but all have the same goal, and all impose on us now the duty of collaborating as far as we can in bringing Christ and his peace to our divided world and, to this end, of abandoning ourselves completely to the truth of the Gospel (cf. Communis “Declaratio” Summi Pontificis et Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi, die 29 maii 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V/2  1943 ss.).
In these international discussions several important studies have concentrated on the principles of Common Witness, and there is need for these to be given concrete form in response to the needs of each country, each place. In the countries from which you come the points which you have chosen for discussion here - Peace, the fundamental ideals of Christian Marriage, the task of the Christian in dialogue with other faiths - offer hope for real progress in a common work; and progress here will surely, by God’s grace, reinforce our common desire for true unity and enable us, in all fidelity to him, to progress towards resolution of those fundamental ecumenical questions of which you have spoken.
It is in this light that I view your present visit to Rome. As I look back on my visit to Britain last year, I am aware of how much I gained through personally experiencing something of Christian life there, not least the quality of the relations between Christians of all confessions. In much the same way I hope that your experience of these few days in Rome will contribute to a greater understanding that will lead to a closer collaboration in your own countries, a collaboration that will have its effects elsewhere too, “so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him” (1Th 1,12).
You are aware that the Catholic Church is celebrating a special Jubilee Year of the Redemption, effected once for all by Jesus Christ in his death and Resurrection. You yourselves are engaged in final preparations for the Assembly at Vancouver on the theme “Jesus Christ, the Life of the World”. May our one Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Life of the World, bless us all and enable us to be his worthy instruments as we seek to serve the unity of his Church and the true unity of all humanity for which he shed his precious Blood upon the Cross “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Col 1,19). “To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebr.13, 21).
1. During your last meeting of the Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, during which you drafted the lines of the Instrumentum laboris ("working paper"), you wanted to propose a Special Session to be dedicated particularly to the internal problems of this young though already well-experienced ecclesial institution. You took upon yourself a labour supplementary to the ordinary work. And now you are about to bring it to conclusion. I thank you all from my heart, and along with you I thank the officials of the Secretariat and the experts who with their thorough studies have provided a wide basis for your reflection on the function and functioning of the Synod of Bishops.
This meeting of yours has been like the pause of a worker who, after finishing a part of the task, stops for a moment to reconsider the motives which inspired him and to summon up his courage to face the rest of the work to be done. The Synod of Bishops sprang up in the fertile terrain of the Second Vatican Council, was able to see the sun thanks to the sensitive mind of my predecessor, Paul VI, and began to bear its fruits right from the first Ordinary Assembly in 1967, held in the same hall where we are now. Since that time, meeting at the regular intervals, but also sometimes trying another type of meeting, the Synod of Bishops has contributed in a most noteworthy manner to the implementation of the teachings and the doctrinal and pastoral directives of the Second Vatican Council in the life of the universal church. The synodal key to reading the Council has become as it were a place for interpretation, application and development of the Second Vatican Council. The rich list of subjects treated in the various Synods alone reveals the importance of its meetings for the Church and for the implementation of the reforms intended by the Council.
In the face of this wealth of fruits already produced and of potential not yet realized by the still young synodal institution, it is right above all to give thanks to God because he willed to inspire its foundation and to guide its work. But it is also right, at a distance of these years, to pause in a reflection based on the experience acquired.
2. The Synod of Bishops has therefore rendered great service to the Second Vatican Council and can render still more in the application and development of the Council's directives. The experience of the post-conciliar period shows clearly in what noteworthy measure the synodal activity can set the pace for the pastoral life of the universal Church.
In the synodal meetings, the individual local Churches of every continent are represented by their respective pastoral delegates. Already during the preparatory stage they are consulted and their experience of the life of faith is then brought to the meeting by the bishops. During the meeting, an exchange of information and suggestions takes place; and in the light of the Gospel and of the Church's doctrine common directives are set out which, once sealed with the approval of the Successor of St. Peter, flow back to the benefit of the same local Churches so that the entire Church may preserve communion in the plurality of cultures and situations. In this way, the Synod of Bishops is also a magnificent confirmation of the Church's reality in which the episcopal college, "insofar as it is composed of many, expresses the variety and universality of the People of God, but insofar as it is assembled under one head, it expresses the unity of the flock of Christ" (Lumen gentium LG 22).
Certainly, the Synod is the instrument of collegiality and a powerful factor in communion in a measure different from an Ecumenical Council. However, it is always a question of an effective, flexible, timely and punctual instrument at the service of all the local Churches and their reciprocal communion. This aim, which always accompanies this "special permanent Council of holy pastors", has always been present in it since its institution. As Paul VI said in his Apostolic Letter Apostolica sollicitudo, "that even after the Council there may continue to reach the Christian people that great abundance of benefits which during the Council happily came from our close union with the bishops".
For the Synod to be able to yield these benefits ever more, much depends on the concrete application which is given to the conclusions reached by the Synod, under the guidance of the pastors and the episcopal Conferences, in the individual local Churches. This post-Synod phase therefore requires much attention and particular care.
3. The dynamic force of the Synod of Bishops is rooted - as you have well emphasized - in the proper understanding and in the life of the collegiality of the bishops. In fact, the Synod is a particularly fruitful expression and the very valuable instrument of episcopal collegiality, that is, of the particular responsibility of the bishops around the Bishop of Rome.
The Synod is a way of expressing the collegiality of the bishops. All the bishops of the Church, of the episcopate with the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter,. "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of . . . unity" (Lumen gentium LG 23) at their head, form the college which succeeds the apostolic one with Peter as the head. The solidarity which binds them and the concern for the entire Church are manifested to the highest degree when all the bishops are gathered cum Petro et sub Petro ("with Peter and under Peter") in the Ecumenical Council. Obviously, there exists a qualitative difference between the Council and the Synod, but notwithstanding that, the Synod expresses collegiality in a highly intense way, even while it does not equal that achieved by the Council.
This collegiality is manifested principally in the collegial way the pastors of the local Churches express themselves. When, especially after a good community preparation in their own Churches and a collegial one in their episcopal Conferences, with the responsibility of their own particular Churches, but along with concern for the entire Church, they together attest to the faith and the life of faith, their vote, if morally unanimous, has a qualitative ecclesial weight which surpasses the merely formal aspect of the consultative vote.
The vitality of a Synod depends, in fact, on the thoroughness of its preparation at the level of the ecclesial communities and of the episcopal Conferences; the better the collegiality among the bishops which expresses communion in the individual Churches functions in the concrete, the richer the contribution can be which they bring to the synodal Assembly. The exercise of collegiality by the pastors at the Synod becomes a mutual exchange which also serves the communion of the bishops and the faithful and finally, the ever deeper and more organic unity of the Church. The Synod is therefore at the service of the ecclesial communion which is nothing but the very unity of the Church in its dynamic dimension.
All the elements find their place and their function in the mystery of the Church. And so the function of the Bishop of Rome places him deeply in the body of bishops as centre and fulcrum of episcopal communion; his primacy, which is a service for the benefit of the whole Church, places him in a relationship of union and closer collaboration. The Synod itself makes the intimate connection between collegiality and primacy stand out: the task of the Successor of Peter is also service to the collegiality of the bishops, and conversely the effective and affective collegiality of the bishops is an important aid to the primatial Petrine service.
4. As every human institution, the Synod of Bishops also is growing and will be able to grow and to develop its potential even more, as moreover my predecessor foresaw in his Letter Apostolica sollicitudo. Some synodal forms, although having been earlier planned, have not yet been adequately realized. You yourselves have examined various procedural and methodological possibilities and various proposals put forward during the course of this institute's existence. For my part, you may be sure of my highest consideration for the function of the Synod of Bishops in the Church and of the complete confidence I place in its activity at the service of the universal Church.
And it is in this context that I renew my appreciation and gratitude for your efforts, invoking upon your work the blessing of God and the protection of the Mother of the Church.
Speeches 1983 - Friday, 15 April 1983