Bishop's Blog - Week Three

29/10/2012 11:35 am

God and Christ as Shepherd

The Rt Rev Michael Campbell OSA, Bishop of Lancaster, is is a Bishop representative at the Synod. He is blogging weekly about events in Rome.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Greetings again to all from Rome!

On Saturday morning, 20th September, the General Congregation of the Synod met to receive an initial draft of a message which would be addressed to the whole Church at the completion of our work.

The message was read to us in Italian with translations available in the major European languages. Further refinement of this message will have to take place, but the statement does embody most of the principal themes which have emerged in the course of the last two weeks.

The Synod Fathers were invited at the end of the morning to the beautifully adorned Sala Clementina in the Vatican for the presentation by Pope Benedict of the Joseph Ratzinger prize for original work in the area of theology and related disciplines. The recipients were an American Jesuit, Fr. Brian Daley, and a French layman.

These awards are made from the Joseph Ratzinger foundation and accord with Pope Benedict’s love and endorsement of theological scholarship for the good of the Church and the spread of the Gospel.

The short ceremony was rendered even more pleasant by the presence of a small choir which gave a rendering of the Spanish composer Victoria’s setting of Jesu, Dulcis Memoria, and a quartet which treated us to two pieces of classical music, to the obvious pleasure of the Holy Father. All in all, a civilised and refined way to draw the week to a close!

On Tuesday and Wednesday the General Assembly of the Synod resumed its work and much of the time was devoted to refining the Propositions in the different language groups, and which will eventually form the basis of the final Synod document.

These smaller language groups ensure that every member has been able to speak and express his/her views, something not always possible in the General Assembly in view of the large numbers.

On Thursday, the hard-working group secretaries together with the Synod officials will collate and assemble the material into the final Propositions which will be voted on during Saturday’s sessions. The Synod’s message to the Church has also undergone editing and refinement and will be presented to the General Assembly for approval by voting on Friday.

As is evident from these remarks, the overall process of the Synod is thorough and what finally emerges will be the result of meticulous hard work.

Another delightful moment in the course of the Synod took place on Tuesday morning when each Synod Father received from the Holy Father an attractive pectoral cross as his personal gift and memento of the Synod. The central image on the cross is that of Christ the Good Shepherd, while on the reverse embodies the papal coat of arms and the date of the Synod.

Although the depiction of God and Christ as shepherd is a thoroughly biblical one, this particular image derives from an ancient Roman, non-Christian sculpture. The warm applause on the part of the bishops in response to Pope Benedict’s kind gesture is an indication of just how much this pectoral cross was appreciated, and the wearing of the cross will be a constant reminder to us bishops of our primary mission as representatives of the Good Shepherd himself.

More on the closing aspects of the Synod - including the Final Message of the Synod Fathers and the Closing Mass in St Peter's - next week.

Back at home we have been busy 'launching out' in our Year of Faith efforts for the New Evangelisation once of which is the initative The Light is ON For YOU! this Advent. This initiative offers the Sacrament of Reconciliaton to all in every church in the Diocee each Wednesday evening of Advent from 7 till 8pm.

Until next week -

God bless you all,

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster

Bishop Michael Campbell's blog posts can be found on the official website for the Diocese of Lancaster