In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Church is preparing for the celebration of an unprecedented Ecclesial Assembly in two phases. The first, a broad listening process, and the second, a face-to-face moment that will take place between November 21 and 28, 2021, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, and simultaneously in several other places throughout the region.
The origin of this Assembly is the response given by Pope Francis to the proposal of the CELAM leadership to hold a sixth General Conference. Francis encouraged to think of a different assembly, because there are pending points of the Aparecida document.
The proposal was to include not only cardinals and bishops, but also priests, religious men and women, lay men and women. It is something new, with a synodal spirit, it is proposed to make grateful memory of the last General Conference, this requires a pastoral conversion, to seek new ways.
The Ecclesial Assembly will have a face-to-face and virtual format. In person about fifty people at Casa Lago in Mexico. And about twenty face-to-face venues and virtual interaction.
We wanted this synodal process to be a great listening to the people of God who are on pilgrimage in Latin America and the Caribbean, in this time of pandemic.
The process has the following objectives:
- To revive the Church in a new way, presenting a reforming and regenerating proposal.
- To be an ecclesial event in synodal key, and not only episcopal, with a representative, inclusive and participatory methodology.
- To be an ecclesial milestone that can re-launch the great themes still in force that arose in Aparecida and to take up again the impacting themes and agendas.
- Reconnect the five General Conferences of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate, linking the Latin American magisterium to the magisterium of Pope Francis; marking three milestones: from Medellin to Aparecida, from Aparecida to Querida Amazonía, and from Querida Amazonía to the Jubilee of Guadalupe and the Redemption in 2031 and 2033,
The church on pilgrimage in Uruguay, small and poor, faces the challenge of making its message attractive and mobilizing. This Assembly is seen as a way to engage all the faithful to achieve a greater diffusion of the Gospel.
At the level of the Episcopal Conference, the Bishop of Canelones, Heriberto Bodeant, will be in charge of the animation of this Assembly. A virtual meeting was held with the pastoral vicars of all the dioceses. In addition, by means of a letter, he encourages everyone to join this unprecedented Assembly, offering resources and an e-mail address and a WhatsApp line were created, as a means of consultation and to send the contributions of the different communities.
In the Archdiocese of Montevideo, the annual meeting of the clergy of the diocese was used as an opportunity to present the Ecclesial Assembly. On this occasion, due to the current health restrictions, it was through the Zoom platform, with the participation of some 130 priests.
Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Madariaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, was invited to the virtual meeting and introduced by Cardinal Daniel Sturla, who presides over the diocese.
Madariaga gave a 20-minute dissertation, explaining the objectives of the Assembly and its dynamics. He encouraged us that it is an opportunity in synodal key, as Pope Francis has encouraged, to listen to the concerns and challenges of our faithful.
After his intervention, group work was carried out, with questions in preparation for the Ecclesial Assembly. In each group suggestions were collected that will serve as a first step, and will be worked on in the different organic instances of the Archdiocese to outline the work in preparation for the Assembly.
In addition, a questionnaire has been shared in the presbytery council, which will also be sent to all parishes to collect all suggestions.
In turn, in the Diocese of San José, more than 60 people participated in a virtual meeting, where they were encouraged to follow in the footsteps of this synodal journey.