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October 2, 1987     The Message
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October 2, 1987

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.............. 4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana II I I Synod on the lai immmmmm Extraordinary session delayed laity synod for one year By GREG ESON NC News Sop/ice VATICAN CITY (NC) -- A year later than scheduled, members of the hierarchy will begin gathering in the Vatican's synod hall with Pope John Paul II Oct. 1 to ponder "the voca- tion and the mission" of the world's nearly 840 million lay Catholics. Originally scheduled for 1986, the laity synod was delayed a year because of the 1985 "extraordinary synod" marking the anniversary of Vatican II. Because of the enormous diversity of experiences includ- ed in the laity theme, synod organizers encouraged widespread consultation. Last April the pope ordered publica- tion of the synod's working paper, or "instrumentum laboris" to stimulate the con- sulation. He also has appointed a recoYd number of lay observeJs' and "experts" and two lay "associate special secretaries" to the month-long synod. The synod's work breaks down into speeches by bishops to the general assembly follow- ed by small group sessions on specific themes and a final report which includes the results of those sessions. The report will be given to the pope at the end of October. Unless he declares otherwise, the syaod's function is strictly advisory. The pope can choose to publish that final report or write one of his own, as he did with "Familiaris Consortio" following the 1980 synod on the family. But because of the subject matter, officials and delegates expect the report to be made public immediately -- as hap- pened after the 1985 extraor- dinary synod on the Second Vatican Council Some observers, such as U.S. Catholic newspaper editor and president of the Catholic Press Association Albina Aspell, will be allowed to address the assembly, the first time this has happened in an ordinary synod. OTHER U.S. observers are Knights of Columbus head Virgil Dechant and his wife, Ann, and permanent deacon Walter Sweeney, director of the New York Archdiocese's department of Christian and Family Development. Representatives of the U.S. hierarchy include Cardinal October 2, 1987 Joseph L. Bernardin, Arch- bishop Rembert G. Weakland, Archbishop John L. May, presi- dent of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Stanley J. Ott of Baton Rouge, La. In addition the pope ap- pointed Archbishop Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles and Bishop Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Pittsburgh, as well as Redemptorist Father Thomas Forrest, former head of the in- ternational Catholic charismatic renewal organiza- tion. The formal theme of the synod is "Vocation and Mis- sion of the Laity in the Church and in the World 20 Years after the Second Vatican Council." In the four years since it was announced, the theme has been subjected to worldwide con- sultations. In the United States dozens of parish and diocesan consulta- tions and four U.S. bishops' conference-sponsored regional meetings have resulted in "thousands" of answered ques- tionnaires, said Dolores Leckey, director of the bishops' national lay secretariat. From the responses of 80 bishops' conferences to a Vaticanquestionnaire as well as submissions from dozens of lay and ecclesial associations, synod general secretary Arch- bishop Jan Schotte ad other experts and officials have cull- ed several dominant concerns likely to be addressed during the October meeting: -- The role of the laity in the world: one concern is the strengthening of the connection between faith and daily life. Vatican II emphasized lay witness, saying believers must "renew the temporal order." Irish primate Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich said helping lay Catholics achieve that witness will be his particular concern at the synod. -- The role of the laity in the church: in many countries following Vatican If, lay ministries ranging from eucharistic ministers to parish councils, experienced a "great flowering," in the words of Pope John Paul. In the same period the number of priests has declined. With this growth in the lay role has come a concern that the church risks "clericalizing the laity and laicizing the clergy," as the pope has put it. The synod's working paper calls for clarifying the distinc- tion between the ordained and lay ministries. BISHOPS FROM regions ex- periencing particularly acute shortages of priests, such as Latin America, add that in- creased lay involvement in church ministries is necessary in the face of the shortage. -- The role of women in the church and the world: bishops have expressed concern about the "participation of women in church decisions" and the or- dination of women to the diaconate, said Archbishop Schotte. -- The continued lay spiritual formation: if lay Catholics are to live their faith they must continually develop their understanding of the "theory and practice of the Christian life," said Bishop Paul Cordes, vice president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, president of the laity council, said evangelization is "the obligation of everyone." -- The role of lay movements and associations in the church. With the exception of the charismatic movement, lay Christian movements in the United States are rarely as pro- minent as elsewhere in the world. But in Western Europe, ,:: Latin America and Africa "new movements" are increasingly valued for their spiritual forma- tion and public witness. But their growth has also prompted concerns about their relationship with local bishops, their involvement in parishes, and their tensions with tradi- tional lay associations such as Catholic Action. A priest long-experienced with such inter-organizational tensions said the "underlying question" is: what sort of unity does the church demand of these organizations, and what sort of diversity does it allow? Of the synod members gathering in October a majority will come from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. The co-presidents of the synod reflect this mix: Cardinal Pironio, an Argentinian; Car- dinal Joseph Marie Trinh Van Can, a Vietnamese, and Car- t: dinal Myroslav Lubachivsky, a Ukrainian, now a U.S. citizen. [ ' Please patronize Message advertisers ! 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