Convivium with the Holy Father

Convivium with the Holy Father

Pope Benedict XVI




After participating in the Twenty Third General Congregation, for voting and approving the Propositions, Saturday October 25th the Pope dined with the Members of the Synod of Bishops, in the Atrium of the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. At the end, he addressed them with the words which we publish hereafter.


Let us walk together guided by the Word of God

Dear Brothers in the Episcopacy and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Synod is about to end, but walking together under the guidance of the Word of God continues. In this sense, we are always in “synod”, on a common path with the Lord under the guidance of the Word of God.

The Instrumentum laboris spoke about the polyphony of the Holy Scriptures. And I feel that today we can say, in the contributions to this Synod, we have also heard a beautiful polyphony of faith, a harmony of faith, with so many contributions, also from the Fraternal Delegates. Thus we have truly felt the beauty and the richness of the Word of God.

It was also a school of listening. We listened to one another. It was a mutual hearing. And because we listened to each other, we learnt how to listen to the Word of God in a better way. We experienced how true the words of Saint Gregory the Great are: Scripture grows with who reads it. Only in the light of the different realities of our lives, only in facing everyday reality, one can discover the potential, the riches hidden that are hidden in the Word of God. We can see that by facing reality, the meaning of the Word, given to us in the Holy Scriptures, is opened to us in a new way.

Thus we are truly enriched. We have seen that no meditation, no scientific reflection can, by itself, draw forth all the treasures and potential that can be discovered only through the history of every life, from the Word of God.

I do not know if the Synod was more interesting or more edifying. In any case, it was moving. We are enriched by this mutual hearing. In listening to the other, we may also hear the Lord better. And in this dialogue of hearing, we then learn the deeper reality, obedience to the Word of God, conforming to our thought, our will to think turning to God’s thought and will. This obedience is not an attack on freedom, rather it develops all the possibilities of our freedom.

I have reached the point where I must thank all who worked for the Synod. I do not dare list all the individuals who worked, because I would certainly forget many. However, I thank everybody for the great work they have done: the Presidents Delegate, the Relator, with his Assistant Secretary, all the Relators, Collaborators, Technicians, Experts, and Auditors, from whom we have learnt many moving things. A cordial thanks to all. I am a bit concerned, because I feel that we have violated the human right of sleeping at night and Sunday rest, for these are truly fundamental rights. We should reflect on how to resolve this situation in the future Synods. I would also like to thank the caterer that prepared this marvelous lunch and all those who served. Thank you for this gift.

Now we must begin to elaborate the Post-Synodal document with the help of all these texts. This too will be a school of listening. This way, we stay together, we listen to the voices of others. And we can see that only if another reads the Scripture to me, can I enter the richness of the Scripture. We always need this dialogue, listening to the Scripture read by another from his perspective, from his vision, to learn together the richness of this gift.

A wish you all pleasant travels and thank you all for your work.


At 09:30 this morning 26 October 2008, XXX Sunday of Ordinary Time, in the Vatican Basilica, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has presided the Solemn Celebration of the Eucharist with the Synod Fathers, for the conclusion of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which was celebrated in the Synod Hall of the Vatican from 5 until 26 October 2008, on the theme The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church.

326 Synod Fathers and collaborators concelebrated with the Pope, of which 52 are Cardinals, 14 Heads of Eastern Catholic Churches, 45 Archbishops, 130 Bishops and 85 other Presbyters (12 Synod Fathers, 5 members of the Secretary General, 30 Auditors, 5 Experts, 4 Press Attachés, 24 Assistants, and 5 Translators).

While the Holy Father and the Concelebrants approached the Altar, the entrance hymn Tu es Petrus was sung.

Ascending to the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer were the President Delegates of the Synod of Bishops, the Relator General and the Special Secretary of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, with the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.

During the Sacred Rite, after the proclamation of the gospel, the Holy Father gave the homily, which we publish hereafter.

After the Apostolic Blessing the schola and the assembly sung the Marian antiphon Ave Regina Cælorum.



At the end of the Holy Mass, the Holy Father Benedict XVI went to the window of his study in the Apostolic Vatican Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and the pilgrims present in Saint Peter’s Square and in introducing the Marian prayer, the Pope pronounced about the XII Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, which has just ended, the words which we publish hereafter.


Dear brothers and sisters,
With the Eucharistic Concelebration in the Basilica of Saint Peter, the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops ended this morning. The theme was: “The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church”. Each Synodal Assembly is a strong experience of ecclesial communion, this one even more so because the center of attention was placed on what lights and guides the Church: the Word of God, which is Christ in person. And we lived every day in religious listening, feeling all the grace and beauty of being His disciples and servants. According to the original meaning of the term “church”, we experienced the joy of being called by the Word and, especially in our liturgy, we found ourselves on the path within it, just as in our promised land, which allows us to taste of the Kingdom of Heaven.

An aspect that was greatly reflected upon was the relationship between the Word and words, that is to say between the Divine Word and the scriptures that express it. As taught by Vatican Council II in the Constitution Dei Verbum (no. 12), a good Biblical exegesis requires both the historical-critical method as well as the theological one, because the Holy Scripture is the Word of God in human words. This means that every text must be read and interpreted bearing in mind the unity of all of Scripture, the living tradition of the Church and the light of faith. If it is true that the Bible is also a literary work, rather, the great code of universal culture, it is also true that it must not be devoid of the divine element, but must always be read in the same Spirit in which it was written.

Scientific exegesis and lectio divina therefore are both necessary and complementary for finding, through the literary and spiritual meaning, what God wishes to communicate to us today.

At the end of the Synodal Assembly, the Patriarchs of the Oriental Churches made an appeal, which I make mine, to recall the attention of the international community, the religious leaders and all men and women of good will on the tragedy that is going on in certain Oriental Nations, where Christians are the victims of intolerance and cruel violence, killed, threatened and made to abandon their homes and wander in search of refuge. At this time, I am thinking above all about Iraq and India. I am certain that the ancient and noble populations of these Nations have learnt, over the course of centuries of respectful cohabitation, to appreciate the contribution by the small, but dutiful and qualified, Christian minorities give for the growth of the common homeland. They do not ask for privileges, but only wish to be allowed to continue to live in their Country and together with their fellow citizens, as they have always done. I ask the civic and religious Authorities to not spare any efforts so that civic legality and cohabitation be returned soon and that, honest and loyal citizens may know that they can count on suitable protection from the State institutions. I also hope that the civic and religious persons in charge from all Nations, knowledgeable of their role in guiding and as reference for the populations, take meaningful and explicit actions of friendship and consideration towards the minorities, Christian or others, and make it a point of honor to come to the defense of their legitimate human rights.

I am also pleased to let those present know what I announced earlier during the Holy Mass: during October of next year in Rome, the II Special Assembly of the Synod for Africa will take place.

Before then, God willing, during the month of March, I intend to travel to Africa, first visiting Cameroon, where I will give the Instrumentum laboris of the Synod to the Bishops of the Continent, and then to Angola, for the occasion of the 500th Anniversary of evangelization in the Nation. We entrust the aforementioned suffering, as well as the hopes that all carry in their hearts, in particular the expectations for the Synod for Africa, to the intercession of the Most Holy Mary.