7-July-2005 -- Vatican Information Service |

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VATICAN CITY, JUL 7, 2005 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic and Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, respectively secretary general and under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, presented the "Instrumentum laboris" for the forthcoming Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

In opening comments Archbishop Eterovic recalled how on April 20, the day after his election as bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI had highlighted October's assembly of the Synod of Bishops as an important forthcoming commitment, stressing that "it was a high point of the Year of the Eucharist inaugurated by John Paul II on October 17, 2004."

The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops pointed out that the Holy Father had altered the dates of the assembly, which will now "last not four but three weeks, from October 2 to 23." The Holy Father, said Archbishop Eterovic, "has also modified the program of the synodal assembly in order to concentrate its activities and further encourage its collegial and synodal aspects."

The archbishop went on to list some of the innovations: "Each of the synod father's contribution in the synod hall is to last six minutes, not eight as was the previous practice. ... The principal reason for this cutback is the introduction of an hour's free discussion, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the end of each day's general congregation." This system, "through an open exchange of views and experiences, will facilitate a more profound examination of current issues connected with the mystery of the Eucharist." The number of participants will, nonetheless, remain unchanged at around 250.

The time dedicated to the working groups will also be reduced, said the secretary general. "As is customary, there will be 12 working groups, divided according to the five languages of the Synod." The Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly will also be attended by a "considerable number of auditors, both men and women," and by "a group of experts whose expertise on the questions studied will help the synod fathers in their work."

Fraternal delegates from other Churches and ecclesial communities have also been invited, double the number with respect to earlier Synods. There will be 12 representatives from the Orthodox Churches, from the Ancient Churches of the East and from post-Reformation communities. "It may be said that this is one of the concrete gestures of ecumenism, as anticipated by Benedict XVI at the start of his pontificate."

The Pope has accepted a proposal to dedicate one of the sessions to commemorating the founding of the Synod of Bishops, the 40th anniversary of which coincides with October's assembly.

Archbishop Eterovic recalled that with the forthcoming gathering on the theme of the Eucharist, a total of 21 Synods will have been celebrated. These include 11 general assemblies, 2 extraordinary general assemblies and 8 special assemblies.

For his part, Msgr. Fortunato Frezza highlighted the fact that the working document summarizes "an enormous quantity of information from all over the earth. Indeed, it is by no means common to find another organization with a document bringing together a similar amount of data from all over the world."

He also observed that the Instrumentum laboris places the theme of the forthcoming Synod within the context of traditional doctrine and Magisterium, emphasizing that "the Eucharist strongly asserts the idea of a gift as a fulfilling response to the most profound questions of individuals and peoples."

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