Analysis From
a Brazilian Franciscan

By Father Antonio Moser, O.F.M., S.T.D.
translated from Portuguese by Fred Radtke, O.F.M..


Part 1 of a series

Synods: Collegiality at Work

The year 2000 already is knocking on our doors. The Church, more than anyone, has reasons to prepare herself to celebrate: After all, Jesus Christ, took on our human condition 2,000 years ago, marking forever the history of humanity. Moreover, he unveiled for us the face of the Father—our true face as children of the same Father, brothers and sisters of all.

St. Francis of Assisi helped us to understand this even more fully: God embraces all creation—animals of land and sea, birds, plants, valleys, plains and mountains. Everyone and everything comes from a common Father. Consequently, he left us an exciting task: To carry out the Good News of the loving plan of God not only by words but also by concrete actions. It is in the light of this that the Synod for America acquires a special significance for our Church. Finally, it is in America that the greatest concentration of Christians is found.

An adequate understanding of synods in general brings us to one of the concerns of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), to seek practical ways for making collegiality work in the heart of the Church.

The present synod has a relatively long history behind it. Beginning with Vatican II various Episcopal conferences were formed, coming to a total today of twenty-four in America. Moreover, a Latin-American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and an Episcopal Secretariat of Central America and Panama (SEDAC) were formed.

In what is referred to specifically as Latin America, four great episcopal meetings took place: In Rio de Janeiro (Brazil 1955), in Medellin (Colombia, 1968) Puebla (Mexico, 1979), and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic, 1992). Each of these meetings had its own agenda but all had the same basic goal: evangelization. Something similar also happened in conferences in the United States and Canada. The positive results of such initiatives set the stage for a more significant meeting of representatives from all the American national conferences. That synod is happening today.

(Father Antonio Moser, O.F.M., is a Franciscan theologian from the Immaculate Conception Province in Brazil. He is a professor at the Franciscan Theological Institute in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro, and is in Rome to accompany closely this momentous event. Father Fred Radtke, O.F.M., formerly a missionary in Brazil, now ministers at St. Peter's Parish in Chicago.)

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