9 October 2005
Archbishop of Armagh Dr Seán Brady addresses
the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
The following is a summary of the speech delivered yesterday (Saturday 8th October)
by the Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh Dr Seán Brady to
Pope Benedict XVI and the Synod fathers at the 11th Ordinary General Assembly
of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican’s Synod Hall.
“Scriptural words like justice, peace [and] forgiveness have become
the lingua franca of the peace process” – Archbishop Brady
“The Word of God is alive and active, with the ability to change minds and hearts.
It can address the needs of the individual and the community gathered to hear
the Word of Life. It is an important source of the Holy Spirit’s transforming
activity in the Liturgy.
“Today, the same Christ is always present in the proclamation of the Word. He is
the incarnate Word, and therefore the Word of God comes to us not as an idea but
as a person and event, who calls us to that which our prayer does not dare to
“Attention has been given to the thematic coherence of the readings which accompany
the liturgical cycle. More needs to be done to ensure that the readings are
accommodated to pastoral needs. The homily is mentioned in Article 47 as part of
the Liturgy of the Word. The Instrumentum Laboris urges that thought be given to
thematic homilies which treat of the great tracts of the Christian faith.
“I would urge that help be given to the homilists. The Catechism of the Catholic
Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church are providential
instruments of the teaching mission of the Church. A similar universal text to
support the exposition of the readings of the liturgical cycle would help the
preacher to break open the Scriptures in response to the signs of the times. If
the difficult questions of this age are presented to the human family in global
terms by global television networks, the internet and global magazines – should
not the answer to these questions also be presented in global terms by the
“Experience has shown in my own country the transforming power of the liturgy
of the Word and of the homily. On so many occasions of great tragedy and violence,
the power of the Word and the homily to transform attitudes of anger, vengeance
and retaliation into events of reconciliation, forgiveness and healing has been
both humbling and inspiring. It is gratifying to note how scriptural words like
justice, peace, forgiveness have become the lingua franca of the peace process.
“In recent days, a historic moment in that political process has been achieved
with the decommissioning of weapons by the largest paramilitary organisation.
Two clergymen who have worked for many years to promote dialogue and reconciliation,
a former President of the Methodist Church and a Redemptorist priest, were asked
to witness the act of decommissioning. This was perhaps, among other things,
an acknowledgement of the role played by Ministers of the Word of God in creating
the conditions for reconciliation and peace. It attests to the power of the Word,
under the action of the Holy Spirit, to make all things new.”
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
Notes to Editors
* The Synod of Bishops, by its counsel, assists the Pope in his government
of the universal Church. Literally speaking, ‘synod’ means a “coming together”.
In ecclesiastical language it refers to a meeting or assembly at which bishops
gather to discuss Church matters, pool their information and experiences, in
the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have universal validity and
application. Such meetings can take place at regional, national or universal
level. The late Pope John Paul II referred to the Synod of Bishops as “a
particularly fruitful expression and instrument of the collegiality of
bishops.” The concept is one that stems from the early Church and has developed
down through the centuries.
* This is the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and its
theme is: “The Eucharist – source and summit of the life and mission of the
* 256 Synod Fathers from 118 nations are taking part and they include the
Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Seán Brady, and the Archbishop of Dublin,
Dr Diarmuid Martin.
* The First Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held between
the 29th September and 29th October 1967. 197 Synod Fathers attended from
around the world and the Irish delegates were Cardinal William Conway of
Armagh and Archbishop John C McQuaid of Dublin.