1. Called by the Holy Spirit of God our Father, and of Jesus Christ our Saviour, to the Diocesan Synod of Goa and Daman, held at the Pastoral Institute St. Pius X, Old Goa, from 17-23 February 2002, we, the 360 participants, along with our Archbishop-Patriarch and our Auxiliary Bishop, have journeyed together with ardent hope and with our hearts filled with genuine concern for all our sisters and brothers, co-pilgrims in this beautiful land.
2. We, the disciples of Christ, representatives of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman*, having come together from the distant island of Diu, the coastal areas of Daman, the hilly tracts of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and the four picturesque corners of Goa have lived in this Synodal Cenacle as a communion of communities. Throughout this week we lived together, prayed together, worked together and experienced a continual presence of the Spirit. This has inspired us to be real signs of hope and vitality in order to live up to the challenge of the theme of the Synod: PASTORAL CARE AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM.
(* Henceforth Goa will denote the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, which comprises the State of Goa and the two Union Territories of Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.)
3. In recent years, the Church in Goa has tried to renew itself in all spheres of its activities. Through concrete expressions of a participatory Church, eg. Small Christian Communities (SCCs), the Parish Pastoral Councils (PPCs), the Diocesan Council of Priests (DCP) and the Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC), by means of Christian Faith Formation programmes and, in particular, the Diocesan Pastoral Plans (1983 and 1990), the Christian people of Goa have moved towards being a more dynamic and creative Church.
4. As a preparation for this Diocesan Synod, our soul-searching journey began three years back with the Solemnity of Pentecost, 1999. After a threefold consultation with a view to ascertaining the needs, aspirations and suggestions of all our faithful, a Working Paper was made available along with a questionnaire which had a twofold purpose: a) to ssess the Working Paper and elicit more responses, b) to revise the Diocesan Pastoral Plan 1990 or to prepare a new one. The Position Paper, consisting basically of the contents of the Working Paper and of further responses and suggestions of all the faithful to the latter, identified pastoral needs and challenges our Archdiocese is facing at present time and formulated concrete Proposals/Recommendations for proper study and deliberation at the Synod. Our present statement is a fruitful outcome of a continuous process of discernment of all of us who participated in this historic ecclesial event.
OUR FAITH EXPERIENCE AND VISION OF HOPE
5. We, the Christian faithful of Goa, joyfully profess our belief that god, who loves the whole world and all its people, loves us too, our land and our people. His utterly gratuitous and everlasting love knows no bounds and conditions.
We are a pilgrim people. All of us, women and men from all over the world, form but one community. For we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and we share in a common destiny, namely God Himself (cf. NA 1). As such, regardless of caste and creed, nation and culture, we are all journeying together in hope to be finally gathered as one.
6. God, the Father of Jesus, accomplished His universal plan of salvation by sending among us, as His most precious gift, His only Son (cf. Jn 3:16, EA 14). Jesus Christ took upon Himself the brokenness and inadequacy of our frail human nature. Though He was born a Jew, He came into this world in total and deep solidarity with all human beings, while at the same time living in an intimate relationship with His Father: God among us, with us and for us.
7. Our living memory of Jesus presents a man born in poverty, in a small village of a colonized country, persecuted much of His life, who however did not submit to His situation. Through Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of humankind, “light is thrown on the riddle of suffering an death, which apart from His gospel, overwhelms us” (GS 22). Through His life and ministry and above all through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ ushered in the Kingdom of God among us and revealed the true dimension of all human persons: all of us, children of light, sisters and brothers, enabling us to call God our Abba, Father.
8. The message of Jesus was not merely future hope. The One sent by the Father announced: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives... TODAY this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:18-21). All His deeds show that He was constant in forging relationships, in reaching out to everyone. The Kingdom is essentially to do good to all. Wherever He went “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), so that all might have life, and have it abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10) and be one community of love and sharing (cf. Acts 2:42ff).
9. The Kingdom was first realised in the milieu where Jesus lived. A community formed around him, chosen by him, for he willed to make all women and men holy and save them, not as individuals, but as a community. In the new economy of salvation, all those who believe in Christ and are reborn of the Spirit constitute the NEW PEOPLE OF GOD, which was already foreshadowed in the Old Testament.
This new people of God is the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST, which is the sign and instrument of the Kingdom of God and is at the service of the Kingdom: a leaven meant for the transformation of this world into a more just and fraternal, loving and peaceful society – A NEW SOCIETY.
10. In this NEW SOCIETY in which the Church, missionary by its very nature, is very much present and active, all human persons will enjoy basic human equality according to the vision of Jesus, the vision of the Kingdom. So, in it “all forms of social or cultural discrimination... must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design” (GS 29).
While on our earthly pilgrimage towards our full restoration and fulfillment at the end of time, we, Christian believers, bound by cords of deep human solidarity, are called to live in fellowship and communion with all sisters and brothers of Other Faiths and all people of goodwill. The surge towards the New Society is, therefore, a constitutive element of the nature of the Church. All humankind is the arena for the Church and the New Society is her agenda.
11. Certainly we, the pilgrim people of God, marked with the ups and downs of our journey which is fraught with struggles and tensions, are in constant need of renewal. The more the Church is filled with the light of Christ, the more will it illumine the whole of humanity. Conversely, the authenticity of our renewed inner spiritual life will be verified and gauged by our commitment to lead all women and men to live and act as one community, one human family.
12. Each particular Church, i.e. diocese, must be grounded in the witness of ecclesial communion which constitutes its very nature as Church. The diocese is a communion of communities gathered around the Shepherd, where clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful are engaged in a ‘dialogue of life and heart’ sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is primarily in the diocese that the vision of a communion of communities can be actualised in the midst of its complex, social, political, religious, cultural and economic realities (cf. EA 25). To make the Church the home and the school of communion: that is the great challenge facing us in the New Millennium, if we wish to be faithful to God’s plan and respond to the world’s deepest yearnings (cf. NMI 43).
13. With the celebration of the Great Jubilee 2000 the Risen Lord has accompanied us, his disciples, into the Third Millennium. The present Synod is for us the high point of our post Vatican II renewal and the point of reference for all the endeavours of the Church in Goa on its pilgrimage towards “a New Heaven and a New Earth”. During this Synod, we, the people of Goa – our land, our culture, our joys and hopes, our problems and anxieties – have formed the context of our reflection in order to live up to the new challenge of becoming a vibrant Communion of Communities.