By Lisa Zengarini
Access to vaccines for all should be a priority in 2021, says Bishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, President of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and of the Bishops’ Conference of Perù (CEP).
"Taking care of the lives of thousands of our brothers and sisters, strengthening our health systems to successfully respond to the Coronavirus pandemic and find a solution to the crisis that has impoverished thousands of families”, should be among the priority tasks in the next twelve months, the prelate writes in his message for the new year, stressing that universal access to the vaccine is an “urgent need” and aspiration “of all sectors of society”
A time of suffering and of solidarity
The message recalls the suffering caused by the loss of so many lives and jobs, by the spreading of the infection and increased poverty, which have all made 2020 a very difficult year. However, Bishop Cabrejos also points out the positive aspects of these months. Despite the many difficulties that have occurred, he says 2020 will be also remembered in history for "the great deeds of Christian humanity and charity", some of which have been heroic. “As People of God we have witnessed - especially amongst the poor - great solidarity which has shown the face of a Samaritan Church”, the prelate remarks.
The message goes on to pointing out other important challenges Latin American and Carribean Countries “cannot afford neglect” in 2021. These are the “social injustices and inequalities, the weakness of the political systems, the fight against corruption and the destruction of the environment”. Citing the four dreams for the Amazon expressed by Pope Francis' in his Apostolic Exhortation "Querida Amazonìa", Bishop Cabrejos urges Latin American Catholics to realize "the social dream of building justice and strengthen peace; the ecological dream of taking care of the common home; the cultural dream of promoting access to quality education, respect for women and children, the self-realization of young people and the protection of indigenous peoples and African Americans" and, finally, the ecclesial dream for a "more missionary, synodal and outgoing" Latin American Church.
Working for the common good
He also calls on the faithful to "build spaces that make the common good possible”, in which the rights and duties of all are respected, especially the ones of migrants and refugees. “We wish social friendship and universal brotherhood, without borders", he stresses. Quoting Pope Francis, Bishop Cabrejos finally reminds that we can overcome the COVID-19 crisis only in solidarity with each other, therefore urging the faithful to build "bridges of dialogue, bonds of unity and paths of respect for all".