Verbum Domini EN 87

87 The documents produced before and during the Synod mentioned a number of methods for a faith-filled and fruitful approach to sacred Scripture. Yet the greatest attention was paid to lectio divina, which is truly “capable of opening up to the faithful the treasures of God’s word, but also of bringing about an encounter with Christ, the living word of God”.[296] I would like here to review the basic steps of this procedure. It opens with the reading (lectio) of a text, which leads to a desire to understand its true content: what does the biblical text say in itself? Without this, there is always a risk that the text will become a pretext for never moving beyond our own ideas. Next comes meditation (meditatio), which asks: what does the biblical text say to us? Here, each person, individually but also as a member of the community, must let himself or herself be moved and challenged. Following this comes prayer (oratio), which asks the question: what do we say to the Lord in response to his word? Prayer, as petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise, is the primary way by which the word transforms us. Finally, lectio divina concludes with contemplation (contemplatio), during which we take up, as a gift from God, his own way of seeing and judging reality, and ask ourselves what conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us? In theLetter to the Romans, Saint Paul tells us: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rm 12,2). Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us “the mind of Christ” (1Co 2,16). The word of God appears here as a criterion for discernment: it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (He 4,12). We do well also to remember that the process oflectio divina is not concluded until it arrives at action (actio), which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity.

We find the supreme synthesis and fulfilment of this process in the Mother of God. For every member of the faithful Mary is the model of docile acceptance of God’s word, for she “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lc 2,19 cf. Lc 2,51); she discovered the profound bond which unites, in God’s great plan, apparently disparate events, actions and things.[297]

I would also like to echo what the Synod proposed about the importance of the personal reading of Scripture, also as a practice allowing for the possibility, in accordance with the Church’s usual conditions, of gaining an indulgence either for oneself or for the faithful departed.[298] The practice of indulgences[299] implies the doctrine of the infinite merits of Christ – which the Church, as the minister of the redemption, dispenses and applies, but it also implies that of the communion of saints, and it teaches us that “to whatever degree we are united in Christ, we are united to one another, and the supernatural life of each one can be useful for the others”.[300] From this standpoint, the reading of the word of God sustains us on our journey of penance and conversion, enables us to deepen our sense of belonging to the Church, and helps us to grow in familiarity with God. As Saint Ambrose puts it, “When we take up the sacred Scriptures in faith and read them with the Church, we walk once more with God in the Garden”.[301]

[296] Final Message, III, 9.
[297] Ibid.
[298] “Plenaria indulgentia conceditur christifideli qui Sacram Scripturam, iuxta textum a competenti auctoritate adprobatum, cum veneratione divino eloquio debita et ad modum lectionis spiritalis, per dimidiam saltem horam legerit; si per minus tempus id egerit indulgentia erit partialis”: apostolic penitentiary, Enchiridion Indulgentiarum. Normae et Concessiones (16 July 1999), 30, §1.
[299] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 1471-1479.
[300] Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina (1 January 1967): AAS 59 (1967), 18-19.
[301] Cf. Epistula 49, 3: PL 16, 1204A.

The word of God and Marian prayer

88 Mindful of the inseparable bond between the word of God and Mary of Nazareth, along with the Synod Fathers I urge that Marian prayer be encouraged among the faithful, above all in life of families, since it is an aid to meditating on the holy mysteries found in the Scriptures. A most helpful aid, for example, is the individual or communal recitation of the Holy Rosary,[302] which ponders the mysteries of Christ’s life in union with Mary,[303] and which Pope John Paul II wished to enrich with the mysteries of light.[304] It is fitting that the announcement of each mystery be accompanied by a brief biblical text pertinent to that mystery, so as to encourage the memorization of brief biblical passages relevant to the mysteries of Christ’s life.

The Synod also recommended that the faithful be encouraged to pray the Angelus.This prayer, simple yet profound, allows us “to commemorate daily the mystery of the Incarnate Word”.[305] It is only right that the People of God, families and communities of consecrated persons, be faithful to this Marian prayer traditionally recited at sunrise, midday and sunset. In the Angelus we ask God to grant that, through Mary’s intercession, we may imitate her in doing his will and in welcoming his word into our lives. This practice can help us to grow in an authentic love for the mystery of the incarnation.

The ancient prayers of the Christian East which contemplate the entire history of salvation in the light of the Theotokos, the Mother of God, are likewise worthy of being known, appreciated and widely used. Here particular mention can be made of the Akathist and Paraklesis prayers. These hymns of praise, chanted in the form of a litany and steeped in the faith of the Church and in references to the Bible, help the faithful to meditate on the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary. In particular, the venerable Akathist hymn to the Mother of God – so-called because it is sung while standing – represents one of the highest expressions of the Marian piety of the Byzantine tradition.[306] Praying with these words opens wide the heart and disposes it to the peace that is from above, from God, to that peace which is Christ himself, born of Mary for our salvation.

[302] Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Principles and Orientations (17 December 2001), 197-202:Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, Nos. 2638-2643.
[303] Cf. Propositio 55.
[304] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (16 October 2002): AAS 95 (2003), 5-36.
[305] Propositio 55.
[306] Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Principles and Orientations (17 December 2001), 207:Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, Nos. 2656-2657.

The word of God and the Holy Land

89 As we call to mind the Word of God who became flesh in the womb of Mary of Nazareth, our heart now turns to the land where the mystery of our salvation was accomplished, and from which the word of God spread to the ends of the earth. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word became flesh in a specific time and place, in a strip of land on the edges of the Roman Empire. The more we appreciate the universality and the uniqueness of Christ’s person, the more we look with gratitude to that land where Jesus was born, where he lived and where he gave his life for us. The stones on which our Redeemer walked are still charged with his memory and continue to “cry out” the Good News. For this reason, the Synod Fathers recalled the felicitous phrase which speaks of the Holy Land as “the Fifth Gospel”.[307] How important it is that in those places there be Christian communities, notwithstanding any number of hardships! The Synod of Bishops expressed profound closeness to all those Christians who dwell in the land of Jesus and bear witness to their faith in the Risen One. Christians there are called to serve not only as “a beacon of faith for the universal Church, but also as a leaven of harmony, wisdom, and equilibrium in the life of a society which traditionally has been, and continues to be, pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious”.[308]

The Holy Land today remains a goal of pilgrimage for the Christian people, a place of prayer and penance, as was testified to in antiquity by authors like Saint Jerome.[309] The more we turn our eyes and our hearts to the earthly Jerusalem, the more will our yearning be kindled for the heavenly Jerusalem, the true goal of every pilgrimage, along with our eager desire that the name of Jesus, the one name which brings salvation, may be acknowledged by all (cf.
Ac 4,12).

[307] Cf. Propositio 51.
[308] Benedict XVI, Homily at Mass in the Valley of Josaphat, Jerusalem (12 May 2009): AAS 101 (2009), 473.
[309] Cf. Epistola 108, 14: CSEL 55, pp. 324-325.



“No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart,

who has made him known”

(Jn 1,18)

The Church’s Mission: To Proclaim The Word Of God To The World

The Word from the Father and to the Father

90 Saint John powerfully expresses the fundamental paradox of the Christian faith. On the one hand, he says that “no one has ever seen God” (Jn 1,18 cf. 1Jn 4,12). In no way can our imaginations, our concepts or our words ever define or embrace the infinite reality of the Most High. He remains Deus semper maior. Yet Saint John also tells us that the Word truly “became flesh” (Jn 1,14). The only-begotten Son, who is ever with the Father, has made known the God whom “no one has ever seen” (Jn 1,18). Jesus Christ comes to us, “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1,14), to give us these gifts (cf. Jn 1,17); and “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1,16). In the Prologue of his Gospel, John thus contemplates the Word from his being with God to his becoming flesh and his return to the Father with our humanity, which he has assumed for ever. In this coming forth from God and returning to him (cf. Jn 13,3 Jn 16,28 Jn 17,8), Christ is presented as the one who “tells us” about God (cf. Jn 1,18). Indeed, as Saint Irenaeus of Lyons says, the Son “is the revealer of the Father”.[310] Jesus of Nazareth is, so to speak, the “exegete” of the God whom “no one has ever seen”. “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1,15). Here we see fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah about the effectiveness of the Lord’s word: as the rain and snow come down from heaven to water and to make the earth fruitful, so too the word of God “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (cf. Is 55,10f.). Jesus Christ is this definitive and effective word which came forth from the Father and returned to him, perfectly accomplishing his will in the world.

[310] Adversus Haereses, IV, 20, 7: PG 7, 1037.

Proclaiming to the world the “Logos” of hope

91 The word of God has bestowed upon us the divine life which transfigures the face of the earth, making all things new (cf. Rev Ap 21,5). His word engages us not only as hearers of divine revelation, but also as its heralds.The one whom the Father has sent to do his will (cf. Jn 5,36-38 Jn 6,38-40 Jn 7,16-18) draws us to himself and makes us part of his life and mission. The Spirit of the Risen Lord empowers us to proclaim the word everywhere by the witness of our lives. This was experienced by the first Christian community, which saw the word spread through preaching and witness (cf. Ac 6,7). Here we can think in particular of the life of the Apostle Paul, a man completely caught up by the Lord (cf. Ph 3,12) – “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Ga 2,20) – and by his mission: “woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel!” (1Co 9,16). Paul knew well that what was revealed in Christ is really salvation for all peoples, liberation from the slavery of sin in order to enjoy the freedom of the children of God.

What the Church proclaims to the world is the Logos of Hope (cf. 1P 3,15); in order to be able to live fully each moment, men and women need “the great hope” which is “the God who possesses a human face and who ‘has loved us to the end’ (Jn 13,1)”.[311] This is why the Church is missionary by her very nature. We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. Everyone today, whether he or she knows it or not, needs this message. May the Lord himself, as in the time of the prophet Amos, raise up in our midst a new hunger and thirst for the word of God (cf. Am 8,11). It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received.

[311] BenedictXVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi (30 November 2007), : AAS 99 (2007), 1010.

The word of God is the source of the Church’s mission

92 The Synod of Bishops forcefully reaffirmed the need within the Church for a revival of the missionary consciousness present in the People of God from the beginning. The first Christians saw their missionary preaching as a necessity rooted in the very nature of faith: the God in whom they believed was the God of all, the one true God who revealed himself in Israel’s history and ultimately in his Son, who thus provided the response which, in their inmost being, all men and women awaited. The first Christian communities felt that their faith was not part of a particular cultural tradition, differing from one people to another, but belonged instead to the realm of truth, which concerns everyone equally.

Once more it is Saint Paul who, by his life, illustrates the meaning of the Christian mission and its fundamental universality. We can think here of the episode related in the Acts of the Apostles about the Athenian Areopagus (cf.
Ac 17,16-34). The Apostle of the Nations enters into dialogue with people of various cultures precisely because he is conscious that the mystery of God, Known yet Unknown, which every man and woman perceives, however confusedly, has really been revealed in history: “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Ac 17,23). In fact, the newness of Christian proclamation is that we can tell all peoples: “God has shown himself. In person. And now the way to him is open. The novelty of the Christian message does not consist in an idea but in a fact: God has revealed himself”.[312]

[312] Benedict XVI, Address to Representatives of the World of Culture at theCollège des Bernardinsin Paris (12 September 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 730.

The word and the Kingdom of God

93 Consequently, the Church’s mission cannot be considered as an optional or supplementary element in her life. Rather it entails letting the Holy Spirit assimilate us to Christ himself, and thus to share in his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20,21) to share the word with your entire life. It is the word itself which impels us towards our brothers and sisters: it is the word which illuminates, purifies, converts; we are only its servants.

We need, then, to discover ever anew the urgency and the beauty of the proclamation of the word for the coming of the Kingdom of God which Christ himself preached. Thus we grow in the realization, so clear to the Fathers of the Church, that the proclamation of the word has as its content the Kingdom of God (cf. Mc 1,14-15), which, in the memorable phrase of Origen,[313] is the very person of Jesus (Autobasileia). The Lord offers salvation to men and women in every age. All of us recognize how much the light of Christ needs to illumine every area of human life: the family, schools, culture, work, leisure and the other aspects of social life.[314] It is not a matter of preaching a word of consolation, but rather a word which disrupts, which calls to conversion and which opens the way to an encounter with the one through whom a new humanity flowers.

[313] Cf. In Evangelium secundum Matthaeum 17:7: PG 13, 1197B; Saint Jerome, Translatio homiliarum Origenis in Lucam, 36: PL 26, 324-325.
[314] Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily for the Opening of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (5 October 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 757.

All the baptized are responsible for this proclamation

94 Since the entire People of God is a people which has been “sent”, the Synod reaffirmed that “the mission of proclaiming the word of God is the task of all of the disciples of Jesus Christ based on their Baptism”.[315] No believer in Christ can feel dispensed from this responsibility which comes from the fact of our sacramentally belonging to the Body of Christ. A consciousness of this must be revived in every family, parish, community, association and ecclesial movement. The Church, as a mystery of communion, is thus entirely missionary, and everyone, according to his or her proper state in life, is called to give an incisive contribution to the proclamation of Christ.

Bishops and priests, in accordance with their specific mission, are the first to be called to live a life completely at the service of the word, to proclaim the Gospel, to celebrate the sacraments and to form the faithful in the authentic knowledge of Scripture. Deacons too must feel themselves called to cooperate, in accordance with their specific mission, in this task of evangelization.

Throughout the Church’s history the consecrated life has been outstanding for explicitly taking up the task of proclaiming and preaching the word of God in the missio ad gentes and in the most difficult situations, for being ever ready to adapt to new situations and for setting out courageously and boldly along fresh paths in meeting new challenges for the effective proclamation of God’s word.[316]

The laity are called to exercise their own prophetic role, which derives directly from their Baptism, and to bear witness to the Gospel in daily life, wherever they find themselves. In this regard the Synod Fathers expressed “the greatest esteem, gratitude and encouragement for the service to evangelization which so many of the lay faithful, and women in particular, provide with generosity and commitment in their communities throughout the world, following the example of Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the joy of Easter”.[317] The Synod also recognized with gratitude that the ecclesial movements and the new communities are a great force for evangelization in our times and an incentive to the development of new ways of proclaiming the Gospel.[318]

[315] Propositio 38.
[316] Cf. Congregation for Institutes of consecrated life and for societies of apostolic life, Instruction Starting Afresh from Christ: A Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third Millennium (19 May 2002), 36: Enchiridion Vaticanum 21, Nos. 488-491.
[317] Propositio 30.
[318] Cf. Propositio 38.

The necessity of the “missio ad gentes”

95 In calling upon all the faithful to proclaim God’s word, the Synod Fathers restated the need in our day too for a decisive commitment to the missio ad gentes. In no way can the Church restrict her pastoral work to the “ordinary maintenance” of those who already know the Gospel of Christ. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community. The Fathers also insisted that the word of God is the saving truth which men and women in every age need to hear. For this reason, it must be explicitly proclaimed. The Church must go out to meet each person in the strength of the Spirit (cf. 1Co 2,5) and continue her prophetic defence of people’s right and freedom to hear the word of God, while constantly seeking out the most effective ways of proclaiming that word, even at the risk of persecution.[319] The Church feels duty-bound to proclaim to every man and woman the word that saves (cf. Rm 1,14).

[319] Cf. Propositio 49.

Proclamation and the new evangelization

96 Pope John Paul II, taking up the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI in the Apostolic ExhortationEvangelii Nuntiandi, had in a variety of ways reminded the faithful of the need for a new missionary season for the entire people of God.[320] At the dawn of the third millennium not only are there still many peoples who have not come to know the Good News, but also a great many Christians who need to have the word of God once more persuasively proclaimed to them, so that they can concretely experience the power of the Gospel. Many of our brothers and sisters are “baptized, but insufficiently evangelized”.[321] In a number of cases, nations once rich in faith and in vocations are losing their identity under the influence of a secularized culture.[322] The need for a new evangelization, so deeply felt by my venerable Predecessor, must be valiantly reaffirmed, in the certainty that God’s word is effective. The Church, sure of her Lord’s fidelity, never tires of proclaiming the good news of the Gospel and invites all Christians to discover anew the attraction of following Christ.

[320] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio (7 December 1990): AAS 83 (1991), 294-340; Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (6 January 2001),
NM 40: AAS 93 (2001), 294-295.
[321] Propositio 38.

The word of God and Christian witness

97 The immense horizons of the Church’s mission and the complexity of today’s situation call for new ways of effectively communicating the word of God. The Holy Spirit, the protagonist of all evangelization, will never fail to guide Christ’s Church in this activity. Yet it is important that every form of proclamation keep in mind, first of all, the intrinsic relationship between the communication of God’s word and Christian witness. The very credibility of our proclamation depends on this. On the one hand, the word must communicate every-thing that the Lord himself has told us. On the other hand, it is indispensable, through witness, to make this word credible, lest it appear merely as a beautiful philosophy or utopia, rather than a reality that can be lived and itself give life. This reciprocity between word and witness reflects the way in which God himself communicated through the incarnation of his Word. The word of God reaches men and women “through an encounter with witnesses who make it present and alive”.[323] In a particular way, young people need to be introduced to the word of God “through encounter and authentic witness by adults, through the positive influence of friends and the great company of the ecclesial community”.[324]

There is a close relationship between the testimony of Scripture, as the self-attestation of God’s word, and the witness given by the lives of believers. One implies and leads to the other. Christian witness communicates the word attested in the Scriptures. For their part, the Scriptures explain the witness which Christians are called to give by their lives. Those who encounter credible witnesses of the Gospel thus come to realize how effective God’s word can be in those who receive it.

[322] Cf.Benedict XVI, Homily for the Opening of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (5 October 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 753-757.
[323] Propositio 38.
[324] Final Message, IV, 12.

98 In this interplay between witness and word we can understand what Pope Paul VI stated in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. Our responsibility is not limited to suggesting shared values to the world; rather, we need to arrive at an explicit proclamation of the word of God. Only in this way will we be faithful to Christ’s mandate: “The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization unless the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are proclaimed”.[325]

The fact that the proclamation of the word of God calls for the testimony of one’s life is a datum clearly present in the Christian consciousness from the beginning. Christ himself is the faithful and true witness (cf.
Ap 1,5 Ap 3,14), it is he who testifies to the Truth (cf. Jn 18,37). Here I would like to echo the countless testimonials which we had the grace of hearing during the synodal assembly. We were profoundly moved to hear the stories of those who lived their faith and bore outstanding witness to the Gospel even under regimes hostile to Christianity or in situations of persecution.

None of this should cause us fear. Jesus himself said to his disciples: “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15,20). For this reason I would like, with the whole Church, to lift up to God a hymn of praise for the witness of our many faithful brothers and sisters who, even in our day, have given their lives to communicate the truth of God’s love revealed to us in the crucified and risen Christ. I also express the whole Church’s gratitude for those Christians who have not yielded in the face of obstacles and even persecutions for the sake of the Gospel. We likewise embrace with deep fraternal affection the faithful of all those Christian communities, particularly in Asia and in Africa, who presently risk their life or social segregation because of their faith. Here we encounter the true spirit of the Gospel, which proclaims blessed those who are persecuted on account of the Lord Jesus (cf. Mt 5,11). In so doing, we once more call upon the governments of nations to guarantee everyone freedom of conscience and religion, as well as the ability to express their faith publicly.[326]

[325] Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975), EN 22: AAS 68 (1976), 20.
[326] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae, DH 2 and DH 7.

The Word Of God and Commitment in the World

Serving Jesus in “the least of his brethren”

(Mt 25,40)
99 The word of God sheds light on human existence and stirs our conscience to take a deeper look at our lives, inasmuch as all human history stands under God’s judgment: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations” (Mt 25,31-32). Nowadays we tend to halt in a superficial way before the importance of the passing moment, as if it had nothing to do with the future. The Gospel, on the other hand, reminds us that every moment of our life is important and must be lived intensely, in the knowledge that everyone will have to give an account of his or her life. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the Son of Man considers whatever we do or do not do to “the least of his brethren” (cf. Mt 25,40 Mt 25,45) as done or not done to himself: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt 25,35-36). The word of God itself emphasizes the need for our engagement in the world and our responsibility before Christ, the Lord of history. As we proclaim the Gospel, let us encourage one another to do good and to commit ourselves to justice, reconciliation and peace.

The word of God and commitment to justice in society

100 God’s word inspires men and women to build relationships based on rectitude and justice, and testifies to the great value in God’s eyes of every effort to create a more just and more liveable world.[327] The word of God itself unambiguously denounces injustices and promotes solidarity and equality.[328] In the light of the Lord’s words, let us discern the “signs of the times” present in history, and not flee from a commitment to those who suffer and the victims of forms of selfishness.
The Synod recalled that a commitment to justice and to changing our world is an essential element of evangelization. In the words of Pope Paul VI, we must “reach and as it were overturn with the force of the Gospel the standards of judgement, the interests, the thought-patterns, the sources of inspiration and life-styles of humanity that are in contrast with the word of God and with his plan for salvation”.[329]

[327] Cf. Propositio 39.
[328] Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the 2009 World Day of Peace (8 December 2008):Insegnamenti IV, 2 (2008), 792-802.
[329] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975),
EN 19: AAS 68 (1976), 18.

101 For this reason, the Synod Fathers wished to say a special word to all those who take part in political and social life. Evangelization and the spread of God’s word ought to inspire their activity in the world, as they work for the true common good in respecting and promoting the dignity of every person. Certainly it is not the direct task of the Church to create a more just society, although she does have the right and duty to intervene on ethical and moral issues related to the good of individuals and peoples. It is primarily the task of the lay faithful, formed in the school of the Gospel, to be directly involved in political and social activity. For this reason, the Synod recommends that they receive a suitable formation in the principles of the Church’s social teaching.[330]

I would like also to call the attention of everyone to the importance of defending and promoting thehuman rights of every person, based on the natural law written on the human heart, which, as such, are “universal, inviolable and inalienable”.[331] The Church expresses the hope that by the recognition of these rights human dignity will be more effectively acknowledged and universally promoted,[332] inasmuch as it is a distinctive mark imprinted by the Creator on his creatures, taken up and redeemed by Jesus Christ through his incarnation, death and resurrection. The spread of the word of God cannot fail to strengthen the recognition of, and respect for, the human rights of every person.[333]

[330] Cf. Propositio 39.
[331] John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963), 1: AAS 55 (1963),
PT 259.
[332] John Paul II, Encyclical letter Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991), CA 47: AAS 83 (1991), 851-852; Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations (2 October 1979), 13: AAS 71 (1979), 1152-1153.
[333] Cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 152-159.

The proclamation of God’s word, reconciliation and peace between peoples

102 Among the many areas where commitment is needed, the Synod earnestly called for the promotion of reconciliation and peace. In the present context it is more necessary than ever to rediscover the word of God as a source of reconciliation and peace, since in that word God is reconciling to himself all things (cf. 2Co 5,18-20 Ep 1,10): Christ “is our peace” (Ep 2,14), the one who breaks down the walls of division. A number of interventions at the Synod documented the grave and violent conflicts and tensions present on our planet. At times these hostilities seem to take on the appearance of interreligious conflict. Here I wish to affirm once more that religion can never justify intolerance or war. We cannot kill in God’s name![334] Each religion must encourage the right use of reason and promote ethical values that consolidate civil coexistence.

In fidelity to the work of reconciliation accomplished by God in Jesus Christ crucified and risen, Catholics and men and women of goodwill must commit themselves to being an example of reconciliation for the building of a just and peaceful society.[335] We should never forget that “where human words become powerless because the tragic clash of violence and arms prevails, the prophetic power of God’s word does not waver, reminding us that peace is possible and that we ourselves must be instruments of reconciliation and peace”.[336]

[334] Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the 2007 World Day of Peace (8 December 2006), 10:Insegnamenti II, 2 (2006), 780.
[335] Cf. Propositio 8.
[336] Benedict XVI, Homily (25 January 2009): Insegnamenti V, 1 (2009), 141.

Verbum Domini EN 87