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May 28, 2003


Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, decreed the promulgation of the Decrees of the Tenth Archdiocesan Synod as well as the publication of the Declarations of the Synod on Thursday, May 29, 2003, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. Through this promulgation, Cardinal Bevilacqua formally declared 83 norms (or decrees) to be particular law for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, effective June 29, 2003, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

The nine declarations, listed alphabetically, are affirmations concerning the nine topics discussed by the 250 members of the Tenth Synod: 1)Adult Faith Formation 2)Catholic Education of Youth 3)Evangelization 4)Liturgy 5)Marriage and Family 6)Moral and Social Issues: A Pastoral Response 7)Roles of Service in the Church and in the World: Clergy; Roles of Service in the Church and in the World: Laity; Roles of Service in the Church and in the World: Religious 8)Spirituality, the Call to Holiness, and the Sacraments 9)Youth and Young Adults.

In his Pastoral Reflections on the Tenth Synod, Cardinal Bevilacqua addressed the concept of communio, meaning everyone together working towards a common goal: "We, the entire local Church, listened to the faithful of the Archdiocese during the consultation phases, considered those outstanding areas which impact the immediate future, and formulated recommendations and possible action steps in an effort to outline a vision for the future. The end to which our Synod proceeded was making Jesus Christ more clearly present, more visible, more audible, more tangible in our individual lives and in our interaction with others, in our joys and in our afflictions, in our present day and in the years to come."

During three working sessions in Fall 2002, topical commissions presented proposals to Synod members (clergy, lay persons and members of religious congregations) for their consideration. Synod members engaged in open dialogue in order to determine levels of consensus. Cardinal Bevilacqua accepted all proposals which Synod members supported as written or modified. The Cardinal also gave careful thought to those proposals which received a level of consensus for non-support or for which it was difficult to determine any level of support or non-support. Cardinal Bevilacqua considered the concepts expressed in these latter proposals to be most important and established norms which capture many of the ideas expressed or which indicate that the subject matter warrants further study.

Cardinal Bevilacqua called for a Synod in December 2000 in order to shape the direction for the Church of Philadelphia as it advances into the 21st Century and the Third Millennium. The process involved extensive consultation to allow the Cardinal to hear the voice of lay persons, clergy and members of religious orders on a wide variety of issues. During the first consultative phase in Fall 2001, the Cardinal invited all Catholics in the Archdiocese to submit, in writing, their needs, hopes and desires for the future of the Archdiocese. The last Archdiocesan Synod was convened by Dennis Cardinal Dougherty in 1934. In diocesan Synods prior to Vatican II, only the clergy participated. In the Tenth Archdiocesan Synod, more than half of the 250 members were lay persons (135).

Editor's Note: For the complete text of Cardinal Bevilacqua's Pastoral Reflections, the Declarations and the Decrees of the Tenth Synod (Norms), visit and click on Synod Enactments.

Marie Kelly
Associate Director

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