Aparecida 178: Base Communities

Base communities. Small groups. Intentional living. Lots of variations on this point, moving away from the parish. We know parishes can’t provide the level of personal interaction needed by people.

Let’s read what the Aparecida bishops build on, a tradition endorsed by previous meetings of the CELAM bishops.

178. In the ecclesial experience of some churches of Latin America and the Caribbean, basic (base) ecclesial communities have been schools that have helped form Christians committed to their faith, disciples and missionaries of the Lord, as is attested by the generous commitment of so many of their members, even to the point of shedding their blood. They return to the experience of the early communities as described in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 2:42-47). Medellin recognized in them an initial cell for building the Church and a focal point of faith and evangelization.(Cf. Medellin, 15) Puebla noted that small communities, especially basic ecclesial communities, enable the people to have access to greater knowledge of the Word of God, social commitment in the name of the Gospel, the emergence of new lay services, and education of the faith of adults.(Cf. Puebla 629) However, it also noted that “not a few members of certain communities, and even entire communities, have been drawn to purely lay institutions or have even been turned into ideological radicals, and are now in the process of losing any authentic feel for the Church.”(Ibid., 630.)

I don’t see these considerations as different from the aspirations of many Christians outside Latin America. The aspirations are certainly shared by folks like Rod Dreher, the promoter of the Benedictine Option. The variations in ideology are irrelevant.

For a deeper look, remember to check the English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Aparecida 178: Base Communities

  1. John Donaghy says:

    There is a lot behind this paragraph – that I see being worked out here in our diocese.

    Many consider the base communities as the building blocks of the church – initial “cells” building up the church – parish and diocese and universal church from the base, the grassroots. They are not seen as a “movement” here, since they are intimately connected with the parish structure. They are not just groups in the parish but are meant to be the places where the faith is nurtured, leading to integration in the parish.

    Note the last sentence. Any number of bishops have reservations about the base communities because of the independence some have shown. Some especially are thinking of the ideological orientation of some base communities which occurred especially in Nicaragua and, a bit, in El Salvador.

    • Todd says:

      I noticed that last sentence, but groups that have lost “that authentic feel” can include quite a number of social associations that operate under the Catholic byline.

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