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Synod of Bishops Discusses the Right to Hear the Gospel

By Vatican Radio
October 24th, 2012
Vatican Radio (www.oecumene.radiovaticana.org/EN1/index.asp)

It was New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan who reminded the Synod that Jesus' first words to his disciples were 'Come, follow me' and that his last words were 'Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation'.

VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) - 258 synod fathers were present in the Vatican at Tuesday morning's session to hear the first draft of the propositions that will form the core of the concluding document. The several dozen propositions draw together the main points that have been raised over the past two weeks as bishops and their lay assistants try to come up with a blueprint for new evangelisation in the 21st century.

It was New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan who reminded the Synod that Jesus' first words to his disciples were 'Come, follow me' and that his last words were 'Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation'.

Those two simple commands, 'Come' and 'Go' are really at the heart of all the hotly debated topics that have been taking place, both in the synod hall and behind the closed doors of the 'Circoli Minores' or small language groups. From these two commands comes the responsibility of each and every Christian to share the story of our faith and to witness to God's love through our daily lives.

Alongside those responsibilities though, I've also been hearing a new expression of 'the inalienable right of each person to hear the Christian Gospel', as well as the right to full religious freedom and the right to convert to a different religion.

Since the Vatican II document 'Dignitatis Humanae', the teachings of the popes of the past half century have developed the idea of religious freedom as the foundation of all other human rights. Yet it's the experience of many bishops working in Islamic, or other countries where the church may be a small minority, that is calling for a new and bolder rights-based language.

It's also been suggested that a commission be set up to represent the Church in different parts of the world and to document those places where such rights are being denied.The first draft of the propositions includes a strong emphasis on education of adults and children, of priests and lay people - again I heard the term 'inalienable right of schools to be free to teach the Christian faith and values'. Ecumenical dialogue, respectful interfaith relations and an engagement with art and science are also priorities if the Church is to be a credible witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation.

While this synod is searching for new ways of revitalising the faith, using the latest media technologies, it's also looking back to that first band of disciples, who were a very small minority in a largely hostile world. Just as they took up Jesus' command to take the Good News to the far ends of the earth, so this synod will be urging all believers to look again at their baptismal promises and to make evangelisation a permanent missionary priority for the Church.

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