||Home > Synod > 12/10/2010 17.57.01
Report of Mons. Raymundo DAMASCENO ASSIS, President of Latin American Episcopal Council (C.E.L.AM.), for Latin America
In the first place, I would like to thank the Holy Father Benedict XVI for my nomination as a participant, in my role as President of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Conference, at this Synod of the Churches which makes their pilgrim way in the Middle Eastern countries. Thank you so much, Holy Father, for this nomination which honors and pleases me and which is a sign of the deference of Your Holiness for the Church of Latin America.
The fellow Churches of the Middle East are the cradle of the Church of Jesus Christ and the first place of its expansion and, even more, the privileged place for the manifestation of the “fullness of time” in the person of the Lord Jesus.
In participating in this Synod for the Middle East I would like to gratefully recognize the immense wealth that we have all received from you. In the first place, the sacred books of the Bible that nourish our encounter with the Lord and illuminate us on each decision that we must make for our personal and ecclesial life. Also, the living Tradition and the Councils, which, in their dynamic reception, allow our Churches with their unique and varied wealth, to make our people share the life of Jesus Christ. Furthermore we must not forget the rich Pneumatology of the Eastern Churches.
Your fundamental multi-culturalism is a sign of the first ecclesial expansion. In time it has undergone many adjustments and numerical and socio-political imbalances and has undergone many corrections. Today as well, in our globalized world, marked by many tensions, there is something that we live each day and about which we can learn a great deal from the history and the difficulties present in these Churches.
The theme of the secularism of the governments that lead our people in many cases has become discriminatory because of ideological intransigence as well as, for many of us, a thematic imposition, an “Islamization” of the public. This is a challenge that we share with you, which requires us to fight for a true religious freedom in the public sphere. We must keep this in mind even in catechesis with the aim of forming Christians and citizens who are conscious of their rights and duties. The Holy Father Benedict XVI, in his visit to France (2008), took up the precious concept of a “positive laity”.
This situation gives rise to a challenge in which we have acquired a new consciousness. This being the formation of the laity in our Churches. During our last general Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (in 2007), which took place in Aparecido in Brazil, it was emphasized that this formation must begin with a deep personal encounter with Jesus Christ, that marks and lasts as a constant experience in each person’s life and with a proper formation in the rock created by the Word of God faced with the new cultural situation we are living today. This must allow the presence of the laity in the new aeropagi and in the tasks of public service.
In mentioning the lay disciples, we cannot avoid mentioning the huge importance of the family for the formation of human and Christian values. All families, today, are suffering from a generalized fracture caused by the speed with which everything changes today. Therefore it must not inhibit its educational strength. Under certain aspects of the family, we may coincide with Muslim faithful and we have seen this during the ballots of international organizations. However there are other aspects of the concrete concept of family that are further from the Muslim concept, for example concerning the role of the woman in the family and in society.
To form the laity for today does not dispense, rather it requires even the formation of priests that realize the deep need for a great “personal and pastoral conversion” to make their parishes and apostolates places and ministries of missionary animation like the first Christian communities. It is necessary to go through a pastoral of conservation to a pastoral enlivened by the missionary spirit. In the General Conference of Aparecido, the Holy Father asserted that being “disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ” are two sides of the same coin. There is no disciple if there is no missionary, and there are no missionaries if one is not a disciple.
This necessary “conversion” will also have important consequences in the vocation pastoral. The youth of today wishes to give themselves generously to the God of Life, but holds back when perceiving only efforts in self-preservation and does not discover the transforming novelty of the Gospel in our present history. The vocational pastoral must help young persons discover Jesus as a “path, Truth and Life” and show them the different roads to follow Jesus, underlining the vocation to priesthood and to consecrated life.
In our Latin American and Caribbean countries, we have many Eastern immigrants - first and second generation - the majority being Christians. Many have become part of the Latin Church and there are small groups with their own heptarchies. We would like them to grow more in the conscience of our common Catholic faith and come closer in a shared missionary action. At this time, we are developing in all our Churches what is called the “Continental Mission”, the fruit of the General Conference of Aparecido. It would be a splendid witness to be able to join this evangelizing effort.
Finally, we would like to share with you the concerns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even in this we are in communion with the Holy Father in his effort to find a solution to the conflict. May peace be re-established between these two people in the land of Jesus!
We ask the Lord Jesus, through the intercession of the Most Holy Mary, Queen of the Apostles, to breathe His Spirit which renews all things over this Synodal Assembly.
[00040-02.02] [RC006] [Original text: Spanish]