The Latin American bishops wrap up Chapter Three, a two-paragraph conclusion confident about their “Continent of Hope and Love.” The term is from the pope emeritus. And there are reasons for optimism and gratitude, first for a plenteous Christian identification through baptism:
127. We thank God as disciples and missionaries because most Latin American and Caribbean people are baptized. God’s providence has entrusted to us the precious legacy of belonging to the Church by the gift of baptism, which has made us members of the Body of Christ, pilgrim people of God in American lands, for over five hundred years.
Baptism isn’t enough, of course, if discipleship does not follow. But there is substantive witness to the Gospel in Latin America, and not just among the old:
Our hope is stirred by the multitude of our children, the ideals of our young people, and the heroism of many of our families, which despite increasing difficulties, remain faithful to love. We thank God for the religiosity of our peoples, which shines forth in devotion to the suffering Christ and to his blessed Mother, in veneration to the saints with their patron feast days, in love for the pope and other shepherds, in love for the universal Church as great family of God which can never and must never leave its children alone or in misery. (Benedict XVI, introductory address, 1)
The various ministries are also good indicators of spiritual health:
128. We recognize the gift of the vitality of the pilgrim Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, its option for the poor, its parishes, its communities, its associations, its ecclesial movements, its new communities, and its many social and educational services. We praise the Lord because he has made of this continent a place of communion and communication of peoples and indigenous cultures. We are also grateful for the active role being taken by sectors that were formerly cast aside: women, indigenous, Afro-Americans, small farmers, and those living on the outskirts of large cities. The entire life of our peoples founded on Christ and redeemed by Him, can look to the future with hope and joy, accepting Pope Benedict XVI’s call: “Only from the Eucharist will the civilization of love spring forth which will transform Latin America and the Caribbean, making them not only the Continent of Hope, but also the Continent of Love!”(Ibid., 4)
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.