The analysis of the reality of Latin America and the Caribbean begins in paragraph 35 with a theological discussion about reductionist approaches to reality that leave out God.
For the bishops, globalization and technology have implications in “the life of our peoples and the religious and ethical sense of our brothers and sisters who untiringly seek the face of God.”
The new languages of the technical domain present a challenge since they “do not always reveal but indeed may conceal the divine meaning of human life redeemed in Christ.”
Thus the bishops note the importance of maintain a perception of “the mystery of God…”
“Without a clear perception of the mystery of God, the loving paternal design of a worthy life for all human beings is obscured.”
Paragraph 36 is a philosophical reflection on reality and meaning.
Reality is no more complex and opaque – and therefore there is the perceived need for ever more information “to exercise the stewardship over reality to which they are called by vocation.” This demands humility, especially facing the difficulty of perceiving “the unity of all the dispersed fragments” of the information available.
The bishops note:
“It frequently happens that some want to look at reality one-sidedly based on economic information, others on political or scientific information, others on entertainment and spectacle. However, none of these partial criteria can provide us with a coherent meaning for everything that exists.”
They note the frustrating burden of information overload and the lack of meaning. Thus the individual mind “easily regards itself as insignificant, with no real impact on events, even when adding its voice to other voices that seek one another for mutual aid.”
In paragraph 37, they place their remarks in the framework of thinkers who identify this as a “crisis of meaning,” in the sense of a crisis of “the meaning that gives unity to everything that exists and happens to us in experience, which we believers call the religious sense.”
The religious sense for the bishops “usually comes to us through our cultural traditions which provide the framework with which each human being can look at the world in which he or she lives.” Thus it is very important to note
“the very noble and guiding role that popular religiosity has played… which has helped make us more conscious of our common condition as children of God and of our common dignity in His eyes, despite social or ethnic differences or those of any other kind.”
Popular religiosity – including processions, pilgrimages, stations of the cross, rosaries, novenas – have been a way that faith has been passed on among Latin American and Caribbean Catholics, offering a sensate living out of faith, especially when Mass was in Latin and the priest might arrive in the village only once a year or less.
But, as they note, in paragraph 38, “this precious tradition is beginning to erode.” This will be the theme of the next post.