Saturday, November 20, 2010

Summary of Papal Text "Verbum Domini" - Administrator elected for Newfoundland and Labrador

The website of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops this week made available a five-page summary of the Holy Father's recent post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord) on the Bible in the life and mission of today's Church.

Here are excerpts from that summary:

This Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is a response to the 2008 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, whose theme was The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. One of the goals of the Synod was to review the implementation of the directives on Scripture found in the Second Vatican Council, especially its Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, and to confront new the challenges of our day. The continuation of this task is one of the main objectives of Verbum Domini (no. 3).

The document consists of three parts, entitled Verbum Dei (The Word of God), Verbum in Ecclesia (The Word in the Church), and Verbum Mundo (The Word to the World).

This summary will provide some important highlights from the document, particularly those which may have pastoral importance. It is in no way, however, a summary of the whole of the document, which deals with far more themes than could be dealt with here.

Part One: Verbum Dei (The Word of God)

Part One begins by outlining the significance of the Incarnation, in which the Word became flesh. It then briefly discusses the human response to God’s word, before an extended treatment of the topic of the interpretation of Scripture....

The Bible’s unity is grounded in the fact that all the Scriptures ultimately point to Christ, the Word (nos. 38-39). This means that the Old Testament remains valid for Christians, even if it has been fulfilled (no. 40). The close relationship between the Old and New Testaments must be brought out in both pastoral and academic settings (no. 41)....

The lives of the Saints, who allowed their lives to be shaped by the word of God, provide the most profound interpretation of Scripture. “Every saint is like a ray of light streaming forth from the word of God” (no. 48). Their holiness is an interpretation “which cannot be overlooked” (no. 49)....

Part Two: Verbum in Ecclesia (The Word in the Church)

Part Two considers the place of the word of God in the Church, particularly in the liturgy and in the sacraments. The liturgy is not only the privileged setting in which we hear the word of God, but it is also the goal to which a faith-filled understanding of Scripture must always refer (no. 52). Unfortunately, the close relationship between word and sacrament is not always understood by the faithful, and so it is the task of priests and deacons to explain this unity when they administer the sacraments (no. 53).

Given the importance of the Mass readings, which are proclaimed by a reader, more training should be provided for those who carry out this task in the liturgy. This training should be in the areas of biblical formation, liturgical formation, and technical preparation (no. 58).

Because of the importance of the word of God in the sacred liturgy, the quality of homilies needs to be improved . . . [I]t should lead to an understanding of the mystery being celebrated, serve as a summons to mission, and prepare the assembly for the profession of faith, the universal prayer and the Eucharistic liturgy. . . . Generic and abstract homilies which obscure the directness of God’s word should be avoided, as well as useless digressions which risk drawing greater attention to the preacher than to the heart of the Gospel message. The faithful should be able to perceive clearly that the preacher has a compelling desire to present Christ, who must stand at the centre of every homily (no. 59)....

Part Three: Verbum Mundo (The Word to the World)

Part Three deals with the theme of mission and evangelization. The word of God given to us makes us not only hearers, but also heralds so that we share in Christ’s mission and are empowered by the Holy Spirit (no. 91). The word that we receive is meant for all; it cannot be kept to ourselves. Since it is true, it belongs to everyone (no. 92).

Every area of society needs the light of Christ. “It is not a matter of preaching a word of consolation, but rather a word which disrupts, which calls to conversion and which opens the way to an encounter with the one through whom a new humanity flowers” (no. 93).

This task of proclaiming the word of God belongs to all the baptized. Consciousness of this mission “must be revived in every family, parish, community, association and ecclesial movement” (no. 94). Because many people, particularly in the Western world, are “baptized, but insufficiently evangelized,” there is need for a “new evangelization” (no. 96). This mission must not neglect the poor (no. 99) and the need to strive for justice (no. 100). In this regard, the faithful should receive formation in the Church’s social teaching (no. 100)....


Although this Apostolic Exhortation deals with a number of themes, we conclude our summary with Pope Benedict’s impassioned plea at the end of the document:

I remind all Christians that our personal and communal relationship with God depends on our growing familiarity with the word of God. Finally, I turn to every man and woman, including those who have fallen away from the Church, who have left the faith or who have never heard the proclamation of salvation. To everyone the Lord says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3.20) (no. 124).

Commission for Doctrine
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
November 17, 2010

The full text of the summary may be accessed at: ("What's New?"); en francais: ("Quoi de neuf?")

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Cornerbrook & Labrador Diocese Elects Administrator

Monsignor Edwin J. Gale P.H. has been elected Diocesan Administrator for the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador, Newfoundland by the College of Consultors on November 15, 2010. He will ensure the leadership of the Diocese until a new Bishop is named.

Born in Searston, Codroy Valley in Newfoundland and Labrador on June 13, 1942, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 12, 1966. He was appointed pastor of St. Joseph’s parish in Harbour Breton in 1974 and later served as pastor in the parishes of Immaculate Conception, Deer Lake and Star of the Sea, Benoit’s Cove. From 1994 to 2000 he became pastor of St. Stephen’s Parish, and in 2000 pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, Corner Brook.

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