(Vatican Radio) The post-Synodal Exhortation on the new evangelization will be ready
in time for the close of the Year of Faith. This was just one of the things Pope Francis
said to the members of the XIII Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the
Synod of Bishops on Thursday. Comprised of 15 Members, 12 of whom are elected from
the Synod and 3 of whom are designated by the Roman Pontiff, the Ordinary Council
of the General Secretariat is formed at the end of each ordinary general synodal assembly.
Putting aside his prepared remarks, Pope Francis engaged the Council members in a broad-ranging session, during the course of which he touched on a number of themes, including the post-Synodal Exhortation and the much-anticipated Encyclical letter on faith begun by Benedict XVI, the nature of ecclesial collegiality and the synodal structure in the service of the Church's universal mission and in cooperation with the Petrine ministry, the crisis of the family, care for the created order, and the recovery of a whole and wholesome understanding of human being. About the encyclical, Pope Francis said the draft pages he received from his predecessor are extremely powerful, and that the work “of four hands” is nearly complete. He also told the Council members that he would be working on the post-Synodal Exhortation during the month of August, and that the document will be ready for the closing of the Year of Faith. The Holy Father also discussed the need to recover a sane vision of the family and a healthy anthropology, saying that the crisis of the family is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the Church’s pastors and teachers acting in concert.
Below, please find Vatican Radio’s English translation of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
I greet you most cordially, thanking in a special way Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General, for the words he addressed to me. Through you, my greeting extends itself to the particular Churches that are entrusted to your pastoral care. I am grateful for the help offered to the Bishop of Rome, in his office of President of the Synod of Bishops, for the elaboration and implementation of what has emerged in the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly. It is a precious service to the universal Church, one which requires readiness, commitment and sacrifice, even [calling on members] long journeys. A sincere “Thank you!” to each!
I would like to emphasize the importance of the theme of that Assembly: The new evangelization for the transmission of the faith. There is a close connection between these two elements: the transmission of the Christian faith is the purpose of the new evangelization and the entire evangelizing work of the Church, which exists precisely for this [purpose]. The term "new evangelization", then, highlights the increasingly clear awareness that even in countries with an ancient Christian tradition the need has arisen for a renewed proclamation of the Gospel, to lead [people] back to an encounter with Christ that transforms life and really is neither superficial nor by rote. This has consequences for pastoral activity. As the Servant of God Paul VI observed, "The conditions of society force us to revise methods, to seek by every means to study how to bring the Christian message to modern man, in which alone he can find the answer to his questions and strength for his commitment of human solidarity. (Address to the College of Cardinals, June 22, 1973)". The same Pontiff, in Evangelii nuntiandi, a rich text that has lost none of its relevance, reminded us, "[The commitment to proclaim the Gospel] is without any doubt a service rendered to the Christian community, but also to humanity. (n. 1)" I would encourage the whole ecclesial community to be evangelizing, not to be afraid of "going out" to announce themselves, trusting especially in the merciful presence of God to guide us. Techniques are certainly important, but even the most advanced [technique] could not replace the discreet but effective action of Him, who is the principal agent of evangelization: the Holy Spirit (cf. ibid., 75). We need to let ourselves be led by Him, even if He takes us on new roads; we need to let ourselves be transformed by Him, in order that our [gospel] proclamation be made through words that are always accompanied by simplicity of life, by a spirit of prayer, of charity towards all, especially the young and the poor, by humility and detachment from self, by holiness of life (cf. ibid., 76). Only in this way will it be really fruitful!
A thought on the Synod of Bishops: it has certainly been one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council. Thank God, in these nearly fifty years, we have been able to experience the benefits of this institution, which, is placed permanently at the service of communion and the mission of the Church, as an expression of collegiality. I can also attest to this, on the basis of my personal experience, having participated in several Synod assemblies. Open to the grace of the Holy Spirit, soul of the Church, we are confident that the Synod of Bishops know further developments to facilitate even further the dialogue and collaboration between the Bishops and between them and the Bishop of Rome. Dear Brothers, your meeting this week in Rome has for purpose to help me in choosing the theme of the next Ordinary General Assembly. Thank you for the proposals submitted by the institutions with which the General Secretariat of the Synod is in correspondence: Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris; the bishops’ conferences; the dicasteries of the Roman Curia; the Presidency of the Union of Superiors General. I am sure that with discernment accompanied by prayer, this work will bring abundant fruits to the whole Church, which, faithful to the Lord, want to proclaim with renewed courage Jesus Christ to the men and women of our time. He is "the way, the truth and the life, (Jn 14, 6)" for one and all.
Entrusting your ecclesial service to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the new evangelization, I cordially impart to you, to your employees and to your particular Churches Apostolic Blessing.