Monday, September 22, 2008

Synod of Bishops

VATICAN 5-26 October 2008 Pope Benedict XVI convenes synod of world's Catholic bishops

The 12th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops meets in October to discuss "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church." Significantly, Bartholomew I, the 270th patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, will attend this first Synod called by Pope Benedict XVI.

One result of the Vatican Council II of the Catholic Church, which ran 1962 to 1965, was the decision to welcome "fraternal delegations" to synod assemblies. Father Joseph Ratzinger was a theological consultant for the 3-year Council. Now Pope Benedict XVI, he extended an invitation to the Synod to Bartholomew I when he visited the Vatican in March. The Patriarch accepted, and both leaders will address the Synod.

The gesture represents one of the Vatican's few fruitful overtures to leaders of the Eastern rite, or Orthodox, branch of Christianity, which split from the Roman church in the Middle Ages. Vatican sources describe the gesture as in "the spirt of Ravenna," referring to the mixed international commission for theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church that was held in Ravenna, Italy, in October 2007.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the pontifical council for Christian unity, explained the development to Vatican Radio in March as an important step forward, although "the road to full unity is still a very long one." The main obstacle is the Vatican's insistance on the primacy of the Pope.

Pope Paul VI established the Synod as a \"permanent council of bishops for the universal Church\" in 1965.

This is the first time Pope Benedict XVI has called a synod and chosen its theme. His predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, had already set the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist in motion.

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