Aparecida 26-27: The World and the Church

Evangelization is not merely quoting scripture or citing papal documents. For the Latin American bishops it has to include the concerns of society – especially the poor.

Recalling the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Church is called to live as a “Samaritan Church,” in “the promotion of the human person and authentic Christian liberation.”

The bishops do not see this as something new but as part of the lived heritage of the Latin American faithful:

We give thanks to God and we rejoice at the characteristic faith, solidarity, and joy of our peoples passed down over the years by grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, catechists, prayer leaders, and countless anonymous people whose charity has kept hope alive in the midst of injustices and adversities.

The emphasis here is on charity, though there is a hint that there are concerns of justice and liberation.

In the next paragraph, 27, the bishops provide a theological basis for the concern for the world, noting the original goodness that is found in creation. This paragraph is a healthy antidote to a world-denying spirituality that only seeks to be freed from the “world.”

 The world created by God is beautiful. We proceed from a divine design of wisdom and love. But this original beauty was blemished and this goodness was wounded.

Sin is seen not as the original condition, but as a deviation from God’s design. In this light, the paschal mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection is the key to a new creation, to a restoral of God’s will for humans and for creation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ and his paschal mystery, God has recreated man making him his child, and has given it the assurance of a new heaven and a new earth (cf. Rev. 21:1).

This new creation is manifested in human beings, but also in the physical creation:

We bear the image of the first Adam, but we are also called from the beginning to embody the image of Jesus Christ, new Adam (cf. 1 Cor 15: 45). Creation bears the mark of the creator and desires to be liberated and “share in the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rm 8:21).

Paragraph 27 is, in my opinion, a good concise statement of the mystery of good and evil, or sin and redemption, that undercuts a world-denying spirituality that I’ve occasionally encountered here in Honduras and in the US.

Here is the USCCB translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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About John Donaghy

lay missioner with the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, since June 2007, helping in the parish of Dulce Nombre de María.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization, Guest Writers, John Donaghy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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