a Brazilian Franciscan
By Father Antonio
Moser, O.F.M., S.T.D.
translated from Portuguese by Fred Radtke, O.F.M..
Part 3 of a series
Four Themes (part 1)
The Synod for Americaās
work is being guided by a document whose themes set the stage for
the discussion among the representatives of the Church throughout
America. In this article I will discuss some of the main ideas.
It is vital to meet the living Christ
The Church was always aware that evangelization constitutes her very
reason for being. But the new context in which we live brought the
Church of the continent to perceive the necessity of a "new evangelization:
new in its passion, new in its methods and new in its expression."
Moreover, in the last decades the Church has stressed that evangelizatino
must be inculturated. The Church must help each culture in the light
of the gospel to discover its positive values and its negative points.
At the same time
the Church must be open to the evangelical richness which is already
present in every culture, though sometimes implicitly and in a mixed
way. For this reason it can be said that when the Church evangelizes,
she herself is also evangelized.
The Synod's working
document lists signs of hope and also challenges. Many of these
correspond to the already known strengths and weaknesses of modernity
and post-modernity. The indigenous and Afro-American cultures suggest
other lights and shadows: the search oneās own identity, the rediscovery
of oneās origins and traditions, love for the earth, respect for
ancestors, a sense of community, a religious sense of life and of
death, music, dance, songall are certainly values of those
cultures. But there are also points to be overcome: alcoholism,
fetishism, superstition, witchcraft, religious fatalism, sorcery,
must be said in relation to the culture of migrating peoples, be
it from a period more distant in history or of the last decades.
Normally a pronounced sense of family, a profound religiosity is
present there. Yet it does not always carry with itself a commitment
resulting from the faith professed.
Conversion is indispensable for everyone
The call to conversion was present in the Old Testament, but even
moreso the insistent appeal of Jesus Christ. It is not only an appeal
to sinners or those thought to be such, but to everyone and every
society. The Church, in spite of being holy because of the animation
of the Holy Spirit, must be the first to give an example of conversion,
because she is also sinful insofar as she is made up of fragile
human beings and of structures which carry the same characteristics.
Without doubt, there are positive signs in this direction. However,
there are equally signs showing exactly the opposite.
In today's society
there is a greater consciousness concerning human dignity: justice,
human rights, ecology, solidarity, generosity, and the search for
spiritual and transcendental values. Nevertheless, at the same time
there are signs of deterioration that cause worry. For this reason
we have to do as St. Francis said: "We have to begin again because
until now we have done little."
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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