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SYNOD OF BISHOPS
XII ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY
THE WORD OF GOD
IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH
GENERAL INDEX OF QUESTIONS
1. What “signs of the times” in your country give this Synod on the Word of God a particularly timely character? What do people expect from it?
2. What is the relation of the preceding Synod on the Eucharist to the present one on the Word of God?
3. Do experiences and practises with the Bible exist in your particular Church? What are they? Do Bible groups exist? Describe them and their activities.
1. Knowledge of the Word of God in the History of Salvation
What is the prevalent idea among the faithful (parishes, religious communities, movements) on Revelation, the Word of God, the Bible, Divine Tradition and the Magisterium? Do the faithful understand the various levels of meaning of the Word of God? Is Jesus Christ understood to be central to the Word of God? What is the relation between the Word of God and the Bible? What aspects are less understood? What are the reasons?
2. The Word of God and the Church
To what extent does approaching the Word of God develop a dynamic knowledge of belonging to the Church, the Body of Christ, and prompt a genuine participation in the Church’s mission? What is the faithful’s understanding of the relation between the Word of God and the Church? Does a proper relation between the Bible and Divine Tradition exist in exegetical and theological studies, and in the faithful’s encounter with the Holy Book? Is catechesis based on the Word of God? Are the Sacred Scriptures well-valued? What is the perception of the Magisterium’s importance and responsibility in the proclamation of the Word of God? Is there a genuine listening to the Word of God in faith? What aspects need to be clarified and reinforced?
3. Signs of the Church’s Faith in the Word of God
How has Dei Verbum been received? The Catechism of the Catholic Church? What is the specific magisterial role of Bishops in the apostolate of the Word of God? What is the task of ordained ministers, priests and deacons in proclaiming the Word (cf. Lumen Gentium 25, 28)? What is the faithful’s understanding of the relation between the Word of God and the consecrated life? How can the Word of God be employed in the formation of future priests? What formation in the Word of God is needed in the People of God—priests, deacons, consecrated persons and the laity?
4. The Bible as the Word of God
Why are Christians eagerly seeking the Bible today? What effect does the Bible have on the life of faith? How is the Bible received in the non-Christian world? And among people of culture? Does a proper approach to the Scriptures always exist? What are some of the more common failings? Describe the faithful’s understanding of the charism of inspiration and truth of the Scriptures. Do the faithful realize that the spiritual sense of Scripture is the final sense willed by God? How is the Old Testament received? If the Gospels are read more often, is the knowledge and reading of them satisfactory? What are overwhelmingly considered the “difficult pages” of the Bible today, and what approach should be taken in their regard?
5. Faith in the Word of God
How do believers look at the Word of God? Do the faithful listen to the Word of God with a deep faith and do they aim at re-generating their faith by it? Why do the faithful read the Bible? What criteria for discernment are used by believers in reading the Bible?
6. Mary and the Word of God
Why is Mary the Model and Mother of listening to the Word of God? Is the Word of God received and lived as she did? How can Mary become the Model for every believer of listening, meditating upon and living the Word of God?
1. The Word of God in the Life of the Church
What importance is shown to the Word of God in the life of your community and among the faithful-at-large? In what way is the Word of God a source of nourishment for Christians? Does the danger exist of reducing Christianity to a “religion of the book”? Describe how individuals show reverence and familiarity towards the Word of God in their personal life and in the life of the community on Sundays? Weekdays? In the special seasons of the liturgical year?
2. The Word of God in the Formation of the People of God
What is being done to transmit the entire and complete teaching of the Word of God to your community and to each member of the faithful? Are future priests, consecrated persons and those responsible for various services in the community (catechists, etc.) properly formed and periodically up-dated in the biblical aspects of their pastoral ministry? Are there ongoing programmes of formation for the laity?
3. The Word of God, Liturgy and Prayer
What is the faithful’s approach to Sacred Scripture in liturgical and personal prayer? What is their understanding of the relationship between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist? Between the Word celebrated in the Eucharist and the everyday life of the Christian? Does the Word of God have a genuine resonance in homilies? What needs to be done? Is a listening to the Word of God incorporated in the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Does the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours include a listening to and dialogue with the Word of God? Does this practise extend to lay people? Do the People of God have sufficient access to the Bible?
4. The Word of God, Evangelization and Catechesis
Bearing in mind the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and those of the Church’s Magisterium, describe the positive and negative aspects of the Word of God and catechesis? How is the Word of God treated in the various forms of catechesis (Christian initiation and ongoing formation)? Does the community give sufficient attention and study to the written Word of God? If yes, please explain? How are various groups of people (children, adolescents, young people and adults) introduced to the Bible? What introductory courses on Sacred Scripture are offered?
5. The Word of God, Exegesis and Theology
Is the Word of God the soul of exegesis and theology? Is its character as the Word-Revealed sufficiently understood and reverenced? Is scientific research of the Bible animated and sustained by a proper grounding in the faith? What is the customary method of approaching the scriptural text? What role does the Bible play in theological study? Is the Bible sufficiently taken into consideration in the pastoral life of the community?
6. The Word of God and the Life of the Believer
What is the impact of Sacred Scripture in the spiritual lives of the People of God? The clergy? Those in the consecrated life? The lay faithful? Is Mary’s attitude of poverty and trust in the Magnificat evident? Why does seeking to pile up material goods impede a fervent listening to the Word of God? In the celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations, is the Word of God a strong or weak instrument of communicating the faith? Why do various Christians seem to be cold or indifferent to the Bible? Is lectio divina practised? Under what forms? Which factors favour it and which do not?
1. Proclaiming the Word of God in the Contemporary World
From pastoral experience, describe the factors which foster a listening to the Word of God and those which hinder it? Can a certain interior unrest or the stimulus of other Christians, etc., lead to a renewal of faith? Can secularism, the continual bombardment of various messages from the world, life-styles opposed to Christian teaching, etc., hinder it? How must the Word of God be proclaimed in light of these challenges?
2. Easy Access to Scripture
How does the directive in Dei Verbum, 22, “Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful,” correspond to fact? Provide some data, even if it be approximate, on this. Can an increase in listening to God’s Word in the Bible be detected among individuals and whole communities?
3. Spreading the Word of God
Describe the biblical apostolate in the diocesan community? Is there a diocesan programme? Are those working in the programme properly prepared? Are people aware of the Catholic Biblical Association? What are the means of encounter with the Word of God (Bible study, listening groups, courses on the Bible, a Day of Celebrating the Bible and lectio divina) and which are most frequented by Christians? What translations of the Bible–complete or partial–are available? What is the practise of the Bible in families? What programmes are offered to people at various age levels (children, adolescents, young people, adults)? How are the means of social communication employed? What elements are seen to have value?
4. The Word of God in Ecumenical Dialogue
Proclaiming the Word in today’s world requires a coherency with one’s witness of life. Is this noticeable in the lives of today’s Christians? How can it be fostered? In ecumenical dialogue, how have the particular Churches taken up the principles contained in Dei Verbum? Does Sacred Scripture enter into ecumenical discussion with Sister Churches? What role do they attribute to the Word of God? What are their points of encounter with the Word of God? Is collaboration possible with the United Bible Societies (UBS)? Are there conflicting situations in the use of the Bible?
5. The Word of God in Dialogue with the Jewish People
Is priority given to dialogue with the Jewish people? What points of encounter on the Bible might prove beneficial? Are biblical texts used to ferment attitudes of anti-Semitism?
6. The Word of God in Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue
Describe any existing experiences of dialogue based on the Christian Scriptures with those who possess their own sacred books. How can those who do not believe in the divine inspiration of Sacred Scripture come in contact with the Word of God? Does a Word of God exist even for those who do not believe in God? Is the Bible also approached in its character as a “Great Code,” which contains a richness for all? Describe any experiences of intercultural dialogue which uses the Bible as a reference point. What procedures can be followed to support Christian communities in dealing with the sects?
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