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Participation in the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

Bishop Echevarría took part, by papal appointment, in the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held from September 30 to October 27, 2001. The theme of the assembly was “The Bishop, servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the hope of the world.” Below we present a summary of his address on October 8, 2001, which was published in L’Osservatore Romano:

“The Instrumentum laboris (no. 74) refers to the relations between bishops when different churches are present in a territory ‘sui iuris’ or a personal prelature or military ordinariate. Their relations with the local Churches should necessarily express the unity of the Church which is a ‘unity of communion.’ Personal prelatures are situated in this context of communion and should not be considered as alternative structures to the particular Churches, but as structures at their service. For in carrying out the special tasks for which they exist, by their very nature they harmoniously converge with the ordinary pastoral work of the local Churches in which they are present and are, therefore, oriented towards the building up of one and the same Church of Christ. This convergence is a reality intrinsic to the ecclesiological nature of these institutions because the faithful of a personal prelature, like those of a military ordinariate are, at the same time, faithful of the local Church in which they live.

The complexity of the contemporary world leads to many situations that transcend a specific region and that require special pastoral responses. When such situations present adequate characteristics, a Bishops’ Conference can propose to the Holy See, in conformity with the desires of the Second Vatican Council, the establishment of a personal prelature of national scope for the purpose of integrating pastoral activity in the dioceses concerned, as is pointed out also in the apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America.»

Romana, No. 33, July-December 2001, p. 163-164.