The Aparecida bishops listed seven positive efforts in Latin American ministry. We looked at the first three some days ago. Here are the other four:
d) The selfless commitment of so many men and women missionaries is striking. To this day they are performing an invaluable work in evangelization and promotion of human development in all our peoples through an array of works and services. Likewise noteworthy are the many priests, religious women and men, laywomen and laymen from our continent who are involved in the mission ad gentes.
Our friend John Donaghy who contributed earlier to this series, is himself a missionary serving for a decade now in Central America. To be sure, it is not about First World persons exporting themselves to those who are perceived as being more needy. It is arrogant to enter into a new culture with the attitude we have nothing to learn and everything to teach.
The mission apostolate might be to the peripheries very close to one’s home, and with cultures very familiar to the servant. These days we speak of mission as a contrast to the attitude of maintenance. The principle of the “new” mission impulse is the same: a “first” proclamation of the Gospel, even to the baptized–those who may have missed the route to discipleship the first time around.
On the so-called “new” evangelization, including a successful (but unfortunately distrusted) vector, base communities:
e) Efforts at pastoral renewal in parishes are growing, fostering an encounter with the living Christ through various methods of new evangelization, becoming a community of evangelized and missionary communities. In some places church base communities are seen to be flowering, according to the criterion of preceding General Conferences, in communion with the bishops and faithful to the church’s magisterium. The presence and growth of ecclesial movements and new communities that spread their charismatic, educational, and evangelizing wealth is appreciated. The importance of family, childhood, and youth ministries is now recognized.
It’s good to know that new efforts are appreciated. And likewise in the North, we’re just catching on to the importance of small groups to develop, support, and deepen faith. Even our communities with full-time clergy do not have the manpower (sic) to reach to every possible gathering of faith. Small communities meeting in households are absolutely essential to the day-to-day challenges of Gospel life.
An initiative from the laity:
f) The Social Doctrine of the Church constitutes a priceless treasure, which has inspired the testimony and action in solidarity of lay men and women, who are ever more concerned for their own theological formation, as true missionaries of charity, and who strive to effectively transform the world according to Christ. Countless lay initiatives in the social, cultural, economic, and political realm, now draw inspiration from the permanent principles, the criteria for judgment, and the guidelines for action from the Church’s Social Doctrine. The development of social ministry, as well as the work of Caritas on its various levels, and the wealth of volunteer work in a wide range of apostolates with social impact, are appreciated. The ministry of communications has developed, and the Church has more means than ever for evangelizing culture, thereby partly offsetting groups that are constantly gaining adherents by shrewd use of radio and television. We have radio stations, television, film, print media, Internet, web pages and RIIAL, [Multimedia Network of the Church in Latin America – Red Informática de la Iglesia en América Latina] which make us hopeful.
All through this hemisphere, I’d say this has been one of the most visible fruits, partly perhaps because it has deep roots in the pre-conciliar Church.
Under “organization,” a collection of efforts:
g) The diversification of ecclesial organization, with the creation of many communities, and new jurisdictions and pastoral organisms has enabled many local churches to make progress in establishing collaborative ministry to better serve the needs of the faithful. Likewise interreligious dialogue, when it follows the norms of the magisterium, can enrich the participants in different encounters. In other places schools of ecumenism have been created or ecumenical collaboration has taken place in social matters and other initiatives. A search for spirituality, prayer, and mysticism, in reaction to materialism, is evident and expresses hunger and thirst for God. Moreover, appreciation for ethics is a sign of the times that indicates the need to overcome hedonism, corruption, and the absence of values. We further rejoice at the deep feeling of solidarity that characterizes our peoples and the practice of stewardship and mutual aid.
Counting them off: new dioceses, new associations, new pastoral initiatives, ecumenism and interfaith efforts, the spiritual life, ethical formation, and stewardship. Any thoughts?
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.