When the Aparecida bishops speak of Pastoral Conversion and Missionary Renewal of Communities (365-372) they face a problem. Many establish Christians don’t think of themselves in need of conversion. Many Catholics see no need for renewal, and certainly not conversion. So this double notion will be a non-starter in many parishes and dioceses from the start. Too bad … because the project is entirely needed and the diagnosis true.
365. All ecclesial structures and all pastoral plans of dioceses, parishes, religious communities, movements, and any Church institution must be imbued with this firm missionary decision. No community should excuse itself from entering decidedly with all its might into the ongoing processes of missionary renewal and from giving up outdated structures that are no longer helpful for handing on the faith.
Here in North America, the question is one of maintenance versus mission. Many communities perceive they have lost much: numbers, orthodoxy, spirit, priests, religious, surety, buildings, parishes, the younger generations. You name it. One tendency is to hold tight to what we still have. No more risks.
The thought of continuity and the avoidance of rupture works against the conversion spoken of here:
366. Personal conversion engenders the ability to make everything subject to establishing the Kingdom of life. We bishops, priests, permanent deacons, religious men and women, and lay men and women are called to assume an attitude of ongoing pastoral conversion, which entails listening attentively and discerning “what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:29) through the signs of the times in which God is made manifest.
Pastoral conversion: changing the way we approach being Catholics in the world. It’s a big task.
Remember, you can reference an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference here.