It is this reconciliation, the result of conversion, which is dealt with in the present apostolic exhortation. For, as happened at the end of the three previous assemblies of the synod, this time too the fathers who had taken part presented the conclusions of the synod’s work to the bishop of Rome, the universal pastor of the church and the head of the College of Bishops, in his capacity as president of the synod. I accepted as a serious and welcome duty of my ministry the task of drawing from the enormous abundance of the synod in order to offer to the people of God, as the fruit of the same synod, a doctrinal and pastoral message on the subject of penance and reconciliation.
The very definition of a papal apostolic exhortation. The genre of this document tells us it is intended as an encouragement that will hopefully draw action out of believers. Not just bishops, but local clergy and laity as well. Such writing is but one aspect of the duty of an apostle. We trace it back to most of the documents of the New Testament. Apostolic succession is not just an unbroken line of bishops dating back to the Twelve, but the continuation of one of the first ministries instituted by the Lord.
Starting with section 5, we will read a document divided into three parts previewed as follows:
In the first part I shall speak of the church in the carrying out of her mission of reconciliation, in the work of the conversion of hearts in order to bring about a renewed embrace between (humankind) and God, (people within humanity), (humankind) and the whole of creation. In the second part there will be indicated the radical cause of all wounds and divisions between people, and in the first place between people and God: namely sin. Afterward I shall indicate the means that enable the church to promote and encourage full reconciliation between people and God and, as a consequence, of people with one another.
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