Paragraph 181 begins a section entitled, “Episcopal conferences and communion between the churches.” First, a reminder that bishops share and interact in responsibility:
181. In addition to the service that they provide in their particular churches, the bishops exercise this office together with the other diocesan churches. They thereby embody and manifest the bond of community that unites them to one another.
The post-conciliar experience of the past fifty years has uncovered some new vectors with bishops working between diocesan borders:
Especially since Vatican II, this experience of episcopal community must be understood as an encounter with the living Christ, present in the brethren united in his name.(Cf. EAm 37) To grow in this brotherhood and in shared pastoral coresponsibility, bishops must cultivate the spirituality of communion in order to augment the bonds of collegiality that unite them to the other bishops in their own conference, but also to the entire college of bishops and to the church of Rome, presided over by the successor of Peter: cum Petro et sub Petro. (Cf. John Paul II, Apostolos Suos) The bishops find in the episcopal conference their space for discerning in solidarity the major problems of society and the Church, and the stimulus for offering pastoral guidelines for encouraging the members of the People of God to assume their vocation of being missionary disciples faithfully and decisively.
Bishops work and serve the Church together not for the good of their own order, but for the Church and its mission. What does this mean? St John Paul II endorsed the cross-fertilization:
182. The People of God is built up as a communion of particular churches, and through them, as an exchange between cultures. In this framework, bishops and local churches express their concern for all the churches, especially for those closest, united in ecclesiastical provinces, regional conferences, and other forms of interdiocesan association within each nation or between countries of the same region or continent. These varied forms of community vigorously stimulate the “relationships of brotherhood between dioceses and parishes,”(Ibid. 33) and foster “greater cooperation between sister churches.” (Ibid. 74)
It’s about a “stimulation” for the cause of the Gospel.
A few specific words about the Latin American/Caribbean bishops:
183. CELAM is an ecclesial organism of fraternal aid among bishops whose primary concern is to work together for the evangelization of the continent. Over the course of its fifty years, it has provided very important services to the bishops conferences and to our particular churches, among which we highlight the general conferences, regional gatherings, and study seminars in its various agencies and institutions. The result of all this effort is a brotherhood felt between the bishops of the continent and a theological reflection and a common pastoral language that fosters communion and exchange between the churches.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.