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Wednesday, October 15, 2003


VATICAN CITY, OCT 15, 2003 (VIS) - Following is a list of all synods (ordinary, extraordinary and special) that have been held since the Synod of Bishops was founded in 1967 by Pope Paul VI.

Pope John Paul II has been a member of every synod and attended all but one as a bishop. In 1967 Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, primate of Poland, was refused permission by Polish authorities to come to Rome to attend the October synod. In a gesture of solidarity, newly-created Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, remained in Poland and did not attend the synod. Archives of the Synod of Bishops nonetheless list him as a member of the 1967 synod.

Following his 1978 election to the papacy, Pope John Paul has presided at all synods.

The first Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation written by the Holy Father, "Catechesi Tradendae," was signed on the first anniversary of his election, October 16, 1979. His latest Apostolic Exhortation, "Pastores gregis," will be signed tomorrow, the 25th anniversary of his election.


1. 9-29-1967 to 10-29-1967
Theme: Revision of the Code of Canon Law.
Conclusive documents:
Institution of the International Theological Commission.
Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis.

2. 9-30-1971 to 11-6-1971
Themes: Ministerial priesthood. Justice in the world.
Final documents:
Document on justice in the world.
Document on ministerial priesthood.

3. 9-27-1974 to 10-26-1974
Theme: The evangelization of the contemporary world.
Final documents:
Declaration of the Synod Fathers.
Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi," Paul VI.

4. 9-30-1977 to 10-29-1977
Theme: Catechesis in our time, especially of children and youth.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Catechesi Tradendae," John Paul II (October 16, 1979)5. 9-26-1980 to 10-25-1980
Theme: The Christian family. Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," John Paul II (November 22, 1981)6. 9-29-1983 to 10-20-1983
Theme: Reconciliation and penitence in the pastoral mission of the Church.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Reconciliatio et Paenitentia," John Paul II (December 2, 1984)7. 10-1-1987 to 10-30-1987
Theme: Vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world twenty years after the Second Vatican Council.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles Laici," John Paul II (December 30, 1988)8. 10-1-1990 to 10-28-1990
Theme: Formation of priests in today's society.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores dabo vobis," John Paul II (March 25, 1992)9. 10-2-1995 to 10-29-1995
Theme: "Consecrated life and its role in the Church and in the world."
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Vita Consecrata," John Paul II (March 25, 1996)10. 9-30-2001 to 10-27-2001
Theme: "The Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores gregis," John Paul II (October 16, 2003)EXTRAORDINARY SYNODS

1. 9-11-1969 to 10-28-1969
Theme: Cooperation of episcopal conferences with the Holy See and with each other.
Final documents:
Message to priests.
Final declaration.

2. 11-25-1985 to 12-8-1985
Theme: Commemoration, evaluation and promotion of Ecumenical Vatican Council II on the 20th anniversary of its conclusion.
Final documents:
Message to Christians.
Final report of the Synod.


1. Particular Synod of Bishops of the Netherlands.
1-14-1980 to 1-31-1980 Theme: The pastoral ministry of the Church in the Netherlands in present-day circumstances.
Final document:
Final document of the particular Synod.

2. Special Assembly for Europe
11-28-1991 to 12-14-1991
Theme: "We are witnesses to Christ who has freed us."
No final document.

3. Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops
4-10-1994 to 5-8-1994
Theme: "Africa and her evangelizing mission toward the year 2000: you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa," John Paul II (signed in Yaounde, Cameroon on September 14, 1995).

4. Special Assembly for Lebanon of the Synod of Bishops
11-26-1995 to 12-14-1995
Theme: "Christ is our hope: renewed by his Spirit, in solidarity, we give witness to his love."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "A New Hope for Lebanon," John Paul II (signed in Beirut, Lebanon on May 10, 1997)5. Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops
11-16-1997 to 12-12-1997
Theme: "Encounter with the Living Christ, the path for conversion, communion and solidarity in America."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in America," John Paul II (signed in Mexico City on January 22, 1999)6. Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops
4-19-1998 to 5-14-1998
Theme: "Jesus Christ the Savior and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia: '... That they may have life and have it abundantly'."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia," John Paul II (signed in New Delhi, India on November 6, 1999)7. Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops
11-22-1998 to 12-12, 1998
Theme: "Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania: Walking His Way, Telling His Truth, Living His Life."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Oceania," John Paul II (transmitted from the Vatican via Internet by the Pope on November 22, 2001)8. Second Special Assembly for Europe
10-1-1999 to 10-23-1999
Theme: "Jesus Christ Alive in His Church, Source of Hope for Europe."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa," John Paul II (June 28, 2003)

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 15, 2003 (VIS) - At the conclusion of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul stated his "great concern over the news that is coming from Bolivia where there is an ongoing, serious crisis, with dead and wounded.

"I wish to express my spiritual solidarity with those who are suffering and I invite everyone today to pray that the Lord inspire the parties involved to give a privileged place to civil dialogue and to look for equitable solutions, in respect for law, to the problems that afflict the Nation."

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 15, 2003 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope continued with the catechesis on the liturgy of Vespers which began last week.

"While Lauds are prayed in the morning, Vespers are recited at dusk, the hour when the evening sacrifice of incense was offered in the Temple of Jerusalem. At that hour, Jesus, after His death on the Cross, lay in the tomb, having offered Himself to the Father for the salvation of the world."

John Paul II recalled that after the invocation "My God, come in my aid," the hymn which is an expression of "praise of the Church in prayer" is recited. Afterward, there are two psalms and a scriptural canticle. After a short reading from the New Testament, the Magnificat is sung in order "to express the sense of the praise and action of the grace of God for the gift of Redemption."

"The liturgy of Vespers," he continued, "concludes with the prayer of Jesus, the Our Father, a synthesis of every praise and petition of God's children, regenerated by water and the Spirit. At the end of the day, the Christian tradition has made a link between forgiveness, asked of God in the Our Father, and the fraternal reconciliation of men among themselves: the sun must not set upon anyone's anger.

"The vespertine prayer," said the Holy Father, "concludes with an invocation that, in line with Christ crucified, expresses the abandonment of our existence into the hands of the Father, conscious that His blessing is always with us."

"I thank you with all my heart," the Pope told the Polish pilgrims during his greetings in various languages, "for your presence, today and during these 25 years, for your prayers and for all expressions of good will and communion. I am happy to be able to count on your spiritual help." Speaking in Italian, he thanked everyone for their wishes and prayers on the 25th anniversary of his pontificate.

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 15, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Carolina, Brazil, presented by Bishop Marcelino Correr, O.F.M.Cap., in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. Coadjutor Bishop Jose Soares Filho, O.F.M.Cap. succeeds him.

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 15, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, spoke yesterday in New York before the Third Committee on Item 109, International Drug Control.

"In all of its phases and dimensions," the nuncio said in opening remarks, "the illicit drug scourge robs the human person of his or her innate dignity. My delegation notes with special concern the ever more obvious links between the illicit drug trade and other human tragedies, such as the trafficking of human beings, the proliferation of illicit small arms, organized crime, and terrorism."

He affirmed that "developing countries and populations afflicted by poverty are particularly vulnerable to the devastating trickle-down effects of the drug trade as easy trafficking points or inexpensive cultivators of source crops. It is for this reason that my delegation welcomes development projects that offer farmers profitable and viable alternatives to drug cultivation."

"As the many causes and consequences of dependence on psychotropic substances are related to family dynamics," stated Archbishop Migliore, "prevention, treatment and rehabilitation efforts should target family relationships in their biological, psychological, social, cultural and economic dimensions." He noted the "link between strong family bonds and the prevention of drug abuse by children. The family is usually the first to suffer from both the acute and the long-term consequences of substance-abusing members, a tragic situation which in most cases leads to the disequilibrium in the household relationship and finally to the breakdown of the family."

"The Holy See is confident," concluded the nuncio, "that the international community will not fail to heed what so many young people are trying to say through their tragedies and anguished appeals, and will redouble its efforts in helping the young generation to liberate itself from this deadly phenomenon of narcotics abuse because the future of youth signifies the future of all humanity."

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VATICAN CITY, OCT 15, 2003 (VIS) - Tomorrow, October 16, the anniversary of John Paul's election to the papacy, is a holiday in the Vatican. However, the Vatican Information Service will transmit a news service as usual, including the last in our nine-day series of special reports on the 25 years of Pope John Paul II.

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