| 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 2 of a series
At the opening of the
Conference of Santo Domingo, October 12, 1992, Pope John Paul II announced
his intention to convoke a synod for all America. He spelled out the
idea more clearly in his 1994 Apostolic letter "The Coming of the
Third Millennium." In the context of the preparations for the Great
Jubilee Year 2,000, the synod would seek: to promote a new evangelization
in the whole continent in order to express an episcopal communion;
to increase solidarity among the diverse local churches in the various
fields of pastoral action; to shed light on the problems of justice
in international economic relations among the nations of America,
considering the enormous inequalities between the North, the Central
and the South of the continent.
In the solemn opening
on November 16, with a presence of 231 members, 58 invited (as listeners
and experts) and 5 fraternal delegates, as well as a multitude of
the faithful, the Holy Father offered new elements and emphasized
some remedies, which are at the same time directives. Above all
it deals with a very special moment for reflection and interchange
about the mission of the Church on the American Continent.
The singular task
(not plural), always present in the preparatory documents and taken
up by the Pope in the opening homily is its reason for being: It
is wished that this synod will indicate a direction which does not
emphasize differences, but rather emphasizes what is common to all
the American nations. This becomes very clear in the words of the
Pope: "It is surely necessary during the Synod, to examine the Continent
in its entirety, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, without separating
North America from Central and South America, in order not to run
the risk of opposition. It is necessary...to seek the deep motivations
of this united vision, making an appeal to the common religious
and Christian traditions."
Focus on the positive and the present
The accent on what
unifies, cannot, obviously, hide the existing contrasts especially
in the political and economic fields, but will be reflections that
are more cultural and religious. For this it is necessary to analyze
the historical causes: To what extent are these causes rooted in
the last five centuries? To what extent do they stem from colonization?
What is the influence of the first evangelizaton upon all this?
second direction already emerged here: Do not become fixated with
the past but focus on the present; do not fixate on negative aspects,
but on positive signs of the saving presence of Christ. In other
words, without denying a variety of American realities, nor the
mistakes of the past, the important thing is to carry out the task
in a constructive manner.
Today, more than
ever, globalization is a reality in all areas, even if this phenomenon
presents questions and challenges that cannot be ignored. As an
analysis of local problems, so a search for solutions, requires
a joint vision and a joint action. It is clear that the Church is
not given to magic solutions. But given her dynamic force, especially
in America, certainly she can contribute a lot toward resolving
religious social, economic and political problems.
the local churches of the American continent, especially on a pastoral
level, can only be beneficial for everyone, including society as
a whole. It is for this that this Synod is seen as a great opportunity
for all. The slogan of the present Synod, brings new hopes and marks
out new tasks for all: the "encounter with the living Jesus Christ,
journeying towards conversion, a communion and solidarity in America."
As a Franciscan,
I see an insight of our founder, St. Francis of Assisi, at work:
A communion of all will be possible only if, starting from an understanding
of the common origin of everything and everyone, we know how to
transform our resentments, stemming from inequalities and differences,
into a grand embrace of our founder's famous greeting: "Peace and
good," (Pax et bonum!).
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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