Address by Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte OFM - President of CELAM
THE EPISCOPAL COUNCIL OF LATIN AMERICA AND THE
CARIBBEAN (CELAM) IN COMMUNION WITH THE
I deeply appreciate the fraternal gesture for inviting CELAM to be present on this occasion to discuss the present and future of the pilgrim Church in Asia.
1. With great simplicity, I come to share the experiences of our performance in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a pilgrimage that gathers a long history, which goes back even to colonial times, with the celebration of synods and councils.
2. In the middle of the last century, the fragmentation of ecclesial work in Latin merica and the Caribbean, the weakness of communications and the need to share pastoral work in the Region began to be observed. Given this. Bishops Fielder Camara (Brazil) and Manuel Larrain (Chile), enthusiastically fostered the idea of promoting episcopal and ecclesial coordination and support. This is how CELAM emerged in 1955.
3. CELAM was founded in the heat of the challenges and changes of the Church during that period, in light of the sands of time, and 10 years before the completion of the Second Vatican Council that marked the Church and is still in full force.
And while the Second Vatican Council was taking place, several bishops from Latin America, along with other bishops and theologians of the time, promoted the "church of the poor" concept, affirmed by Saint John XXIII.
4. The creation of CELAM was motivated by the need to respond to times that required a prophetic voice of the Church around the Continent facing the social, cultural, and paradigmatic changes of a time that required greater communication and reflection by pastors in such changing contexts.
At the CELAM creation base were always the principles of communion, collegiality and ecclesiality. The synodal perspective was there from the beginning since it was he only way to get together and interpret the new realities and look for new answers.
5. For this reason, the General Conferences of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean had immense importance for the pastors and for the entire Church of pilgrims in the Region. Their arguments and conclusions have been references for the evangelizing work.
6. The first one, held in 1955, in Rio de Janeiro, and from when CELAM was founded, sought for pastors to reflect together on critical situations on the Continent and responses from faith, seeing the need to give life to a service organism to the Episcopal Conferences of the Continent regarding this task of communication, reflection and pastoral guidelines for action, this is how CELAM was created.
But from time to time, the need arose to hold General Conferences with the Bishops of the Region, so that together they could update analyzes and retlections in the light of faith, as well as continue to identify pastoral lines and strengthen formation. In this regard the Theological Institute for Latin America (ITEPAL) was created, which is now the Biblical Theological Pastoral Center (CEBITEPAL), by bringing together in a single organization the three Schools that confirmed it: the Biblical,
the theological and the social ministry.
7. The Medellin Conference of (1968) was a magnificent event for hosting the Second Vatican Council and the prospects for its creative application in the region, evidencing the necessary preferential option for the poor. Human promotion was emphasized as a consubstantial element of any evangelization process and growth in faith.
8. In 1979, was held the General Conference of Puebla, which followed Medellin, and reaffirms the preferential option for the poor, and elaborates important proposals for an comprehensive evangelization.
9. In the Conference of Santo Domingo, in 1992, 500 years after evangelization began in the Continent, an important reflection is made on inculturation, and its great challenges for the new evangelization.
10. In 2007, the Aparecida Conference was held, and its conclusions are still being assimilated and we are making efforts to put into practice. It raises, in the face of the Change of Epoch that it detects the great challenge of the Continental Mission, but not as a "conventional mission", but as a Permanent State of Mission seeking that Peoples have Life and Live in abundance with the missionaries disciples work; the contents of Medellin and Puebla are taken up, particularly from the inaugural speech of Pope Benedict XVI, who pointed out that the option for the poor is contained in the Christological faith. We still have an outstanding debt with Aparecida that was discussed in the First Ecclesial Assembly of November 2021. in Mexico.
11. CELAM in light of the signs of the sands of time and the challenges for the Church, as “Ecclesia semper reformanda” has been re-structuring at various times to better serve the People of God and pilgrims in the Region through the Episcopalians Conferences. Thus, at the 37th General Assembly of CELAM, it was agreed to open a Renewal and Restructuring process, which organizationally meant forming 04 Pastoral Centers based on See Judge-Act.
12. In “See”, the Knowledge Management Center (CGC), in “Judge” the Biblical Theological Pastoral Center (CEBITEPAL), and in Act. the Networks and Pastoral Action Center (CEPRAP); likewise, and as a Transversal Center the Communication Center (CpC). But the key word and concept is articulation, because is not about that each Center goes “by itself” but rather that it performs
pastoral action in articulation and Synodality.
13. The perspective and prospective of the General Conference of Aparecida, its challenges and the Pope’s request regarding the pending issues of the Conference of Aparecida, gave rise to the realization of the First Ecclesial Assembly that is unprecedented in Latin America and the Caribbean, also the first at the Universal Church level.
14. The Assembly Meeting, was held in Mexico between November 21 and 28, 2021, under the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was preceded by a prior consultation, or listening to all the people of God (Bishops, priests, religious, lay men and women, and peripheries representatives).
15. Pope Francis emphasizes as a crucial point of his pontificate rescuing the role of lay men and women within the Church, walking together with the bishops and all the clergy and religious life, seeking social, economic, political, and religious conditions that allow the fulfillment of life in this world, which is also the Kingdom of God.
16. 70,000 people participated in the listening process and 1,030 attended the event, of which 900 were virtual and 130 in person. We were enriched by the illuminating participation of Cardinal Bo and Cardinal Gracias, among other illustrious prelates who. with their presence, reflections, and messages, gave us especially important contributions.
17. Currently we are in the final edition of the Conclusive Document that we have called "Towards a Synodal Church that goes out to the peripheries: Reflections and Pastoral Proposals from the First Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean" and will also have a "popular version”. The document gathers the background, challenges, and pastoral proposals of the Ecclesial Assembly.
18. In the same perspective of the Ecclesial Assembly, CELAM has been promoting the continental process of Synod on Synodality, interacting with the 22 Episcopal Conferences that have already prepared their respective conclusive documents, since the perspective of communion, participation and mission is the same and that the Ecclesial Assembly has marked.
19. Thus, CELAM has formed two large working Commissions at the continental level, one on the Appropriation of the Document Content of the First Ecclesial Assembly, and the other to monitor the process of the Continental Synod on the path to the Universal Synod. Both Continental Commissions are articulated from the Presidency of CELAM.
20. We can also say that CELAM seeks to reflect its new structure in the New Statutes that are about to be approved by the Holy See, and that express the Restructuring and Renewal of CELAM in all its instances.
21. The CELAM Headquarters itself, as a “physical” meeting place, has special importance in the service to the Church and pilgrims of the Continent, and on July 12 of this year the New Headquarters in Bogota was inaugurated, whose realization has been the product of a great effort and will allow to host in its different environments the religious pastoral agents who wish to perform their Meetings, Conferences, Retreats, since it is a large place with adequate spaces and services.
22. In my opinion, I simply want to express what the Latin American and Caribbean Church has done in trying to be faithful to the conciliar teachings and, even more, to the experience of the first Christians and the path towards synodically.
23. We have no doubt that the ecclesiology of the People of God is not opposed but needs episcopal collegiality. But, in the same way, we are truly clear that we all feel part of the Church, and work towards synodically, and in this regard we will be able to have a greater evangelizing capacity.
24. In essence, CELAM's contribution to the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean is manifested in the following:
25. Seeking to be faithful to its prophetic vocation in response to the voices of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples and that is expressed in the preferential option for the poor that has identified the evangelizing mission of the Church in this Continent.
26. Its original reception of the Second Vatican Council through the General Conferences of the Latin American Episcopate, and more recently, through the First Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean.
27. Its permanent support for the reflection and pastoral action of the Church in Latin America, in communion with the Bishop of Rome, with a fraternal and collegial sense at the service of the Episcopal Conferences.
28. Its offer of training spaces with a Latin American perspective to various ecclesial and social actors of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean.
29. Its work articulating networks for pastoral action at the continental and transcontinental level responding to the challenges of migration, human trafficking, care for our common home, defense of human rights, children, youth, and vulnerable women, indigenous peoples and Afro descendants, Catholic education, among others, promoting in this process the configuration of ecclesial networks such as the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), the Mesoamerican
Ecclesial Network (REMAM), the Ecclesial Network of the Guarani Aquifer and Gran Chaco, the Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network for Migration. Displacement, Refuge and Human Trafficking (CLAMOR), the Centrality of Children Project, and the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon (CEAMA).
30. The preparation and dissemination of studies and research related to problems of the Latin American and Caribbean reality, which allow not only to have a well-founded diagnosis, but also vital action prospects for the Church, in light of the Social Doctrine.
31. The promotion of communication, meetings, and socialization of pastoral action experiences between the different episcopal conferences and ecclesial networks in Latin America and the Caribbean, in communion with the Holy See, providing spaces and communication means to favor participation, listening, work in Synodality, both religious and laity.
32. The testimony of a synodal Church that goes out to the peripheries is possible, disciples and missionary, mystical and prophetic, enthusiastic about caring for our common home.
33. The offer of subsidies, publications, and multimedia content to promote the Pope's Magisterium and the Latin American Magisterium. contributing to the formation and updating of bishops, priests, seminarians, religious men. and women, lay men and women.
34. The effort to be a sign and referent of the Church's collegialitv in Latin America and its catholicity, in tune with the pastoral guidelines of the Pope's magisterium.
35. I would like to end this brief reflection by informing you that the Holy Father has entrusted CELAM the analysis, selection and monitoring of the projects that will be financed by the Fondo Populorum Progressio.
Dear brothers, I invite you to renew your passion for Jesus, for his Gospel and his People. May the Lord bless you, and the Blessed Virgin fill you with tenderness.
Peace and Wellbeing
Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte OFM
Metropolitan Archbishop of Trujillo
President of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference
President of CELAM