The first European voices

Cardinal Betori (Italy), Vingt-Trois (France) and Msgr. Léonard (Belgium)

After a report on the Church in Europe delivered by cardinal Peter Erdö, CCEE president, several European bishops gave panel speeches during the first days of the Synod. Follow excerpts of the addresses delivered by the Cardinals Giuseppe Betori (Florence), André Vingt-Trois (Paris) and Msgr. André Léonard (Brussels). Other speeches will be published in next issues of SIR Europe. Italy: listening to the world without subjection. "Just as Jesus was an attentive observer of the life of his times, thus today the Church must address contemporary culture, in the belief that nothing can resist the healing power of the Gospel". It is an excerpt of the speech delivered on the morning of October 9 at the third General Congregation of the Synod of the Bishops, ongoing in the Vatican, by card. Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence. In his reflection the cardinal said that a central step consists in "listening and understanding the world without subjection: the word of God judges the world". In order to explain this concept he quoted from the then cardinal Ratzinger: "Evangelization isn’t merely an adaptation to culture, namely, a veneer of culture representing seeming enculturation. […] No, the Gospel is a purification that becomes maturity and healing". Thus, continued cardinal Betori, "to evangelize demands the promotion of awareness and reception of contemporary cultures, an open attitude that should be combined with courage and faithfulness, showing the healing force of the word of faith for a true humanism. A significant path highlighting the relationship between faith and culture is beauty and therefore art, which is its human matrix".France: pedagogy of culture. In his speech delivered at the fourth general Congregation the Archbishop of Paris, president of the French Bishops’ Conference, card. André Vingt-Trois, said: "Today in many Western Countries the new evangelization is the first proclamation, considering the general secularization of customs and culture". "More than ignorance – he continued – we should deplore a culture influenced by the language of the media, its resorting to immediacy and affectivity". In this framework, for the prelate, "the new evangelization should combine in a single effort the testimony of faith and the pedagogy of culture". The "credibility" of the testimony of faith, for Cardinal Vingt-Trois, "is based on Christian witness and on the participation of Christians in the life of the Church" which includes "the teaching of the Magisterium, public statements on a number of topical issues, the vitality of parishes and Christian communities, the evident reference of all Christians to the life of Jesus, in words and lifestyles". The pedagogy of culture "takes place through Christians’ involvement in all educational systems" to show that "adhesion to Christian faith does not contradict human reason". The prelate appealed to "develop the ethical consequences of a Christian pedagogy rooted in the revelation and accomplished in the dialogue with other wisdoms", in the awareness "of being the repositories of a treasure for the future of humanity and banners of hope".Belgium: women’s contribution. "Evangelization is also hindered by the reality of evil", said in his lecture for the fourth general Congregation of the Bishops’ Synod, delivered on October 9, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, president of the Belgian bishops’ conference Msgr. André Léonard. "How can we combine the existence of God and of evil?", asked the prelate, underlining that "these questions, linked to science, represent a great challenge for Christian wisdom". For Msgr. Léonard "we should accept it according to the theology of Paul" and "reflect on what he says regarding the current state of creation, subjected to vanity and "at the mercy of the slavery of corruption". In the Church, he observed, "two thirds of the members are women. However, many of them feel discriminated. It’s the time to say that if the Church doesn’t ordain women bishops, it isn’t because they are less capable or less deserving! On the contrary! The reason is that the priest isn’t only a ‘minister of worship’. He is also the representative of Christ, came to be the spouse of mankind". We render grace "for the quality and the specific contribution of women to evangelization. Strong gestures clearly indicate it. Without happy women, recognized in their essence, proud members of the Church – he concluded – there won’t be a new evangelization".

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