The Vatican today released the Instrumentum Laboris (Working Document) for the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church. The synod will take place October 5 to 26, 2008. The document was released in several languages, including English. The Vatican's web pages on the Synod of Bishops includes the official English translation of the Instrumentum Laboris. Vatican Information Service has a press release about it.
The Instrumentum Laboris is divided into three parts: (1) The Mystery of God Who Speaks to Us; (2) The Word of God in the Life of the Church; and (3) The Word of God in the Mission of the Church.
The Lineamenta for the Synod on the Word of God was released last year. As stated in the Introduction to the Instrumentum Laboris, the Lineamenta called for a "reflection, in light of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, on the various experiences and aspects of encountering the Word of God in the Church today, according to her various traditions and rites and from the vantage point of faith."
The Introduction to the Instrumentum Laboris provides a list of the Pastors' expectations for the synod:
— the Word of God needs to be given greater priority in the life and mission of the Church; this will require courage and creativity in a pedagogy of communicating, adapted to the times (culture, real-life situations, communication);
— the faithful need to know that the Word of God is Jesus Christ, an awareness which lends a sense of mystery to the reading of every word in the Bible, particularly during liturgical celebrations, first and foremost at the Sunday Eucharist;
— the Word of God can only be fully understood through the action of the Holy Spirit, who gives it meaning and inspires the reading of the Bible in the Church, within the context of her living Tradition of proclamation and charity. In this way, hearing the Word of God and reading the Bible are seen to require participation in the community of the Church in a spirit of communion and service;
— the Bible needs to be seen as the Word of God who continues to reveal, despite the many difficulties in understanding certain passages, especially those in Old Testament;
— Christ’s faithful exhibit a great desire to hear the Word of God, which has resulted in many noteworthy pastoral initiatives. In this regard, however, urgent attention needs to be given to a sense of indifference, lack of knowledge and confusion about the truths of the faith concerning the Word of God, as well as to due preparation and necessary biblical supports;
— pastoral programs on the Bible need to be developed. Indeed, all pastoral activity, including the teaching of the truths of the faith, should be based on the Word of God and continually inspired by it;
— communion in the faith necessarily requires putting the Word of God into practice; each particular Church must commit itself to receiving the Word and applying it to every local situation;
— the different approaches to the Bible in the Latin and Eastern Traditions need to be known and their richness appreciated;
— the competency and responsibility of Pastors to proclaim the Word of God demands continual updating in the formation process;
— the laity urgently need to be aware that they are not passive subjects in relation to the Word of God; rather they are to become both hearers of the Word of God and, after due preparation and support from the community, proclaimers of it; and
— the faithful need to be convinced that God addresses his Word of salvation to every person without exception; consequently, he wants his Word to be a part of the Church’s mission, in what people come to know as the Good News of liberation, consolation and salvation. The Word seeks a dialogue within the Church, with Christian communities, with other religions, and even with culture, always mindful of the many seeds of the truth which God’s providence has placed in them.