Ecclesial Assembly in Mexico closes with new commitment to mission
By Lisa Zengarini
The first Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean, wrapped up in Mexico City on Sunday with a renewed commitment to “open new missionary paths towards the geographical and existential peripheries” and all places “where an outgoing Church should be”.
The meeting was held in a mixed format, mainly on line, from 21 to 28 November, involving 200 bishops, 400 priests and religious and 400 lay people who discussed the urgent pastoral actions needed to strengthen the Church’s mission in Latin America and the Caribbean in the face of the new challenges it is confronting today. The participation of so many lay people was the distinctive feature of the event.
Promoting lay and women's role
The Final Message released on Sunday identifies twelve challenges. These include recognizing and enhancing the role of young people, both in Church and society as agents of transformation, also accompanying the victims of social and Church injustices. The message, entitled "We are all outgoing missionary disciples", further calls for a more active participation of women in Church ministries, discernment and decision-making processes.
Listening to the cry of the poor
It emphasizes the need for more training in synodality to eradicate clericalism and for promoting the participation of lay people to bring about cultural, political, social and ecclesial transformation. It urges to listen to the cry of the poor and the marginalized, saying the Assembly was struck by “the impact and consequences of the pandemic which has further increased social inequalities” in Latin American and the Caribbean countries.
Commitment to defend life
Participants also reiterated their commitment to promote and defend the dignity of life and of the human person from conception to natural death. The message further suggests reforming the curriculum of seminaries to include topics such as integral ecology, indigenous peoples, inculturation and interculturality, and the social teachings of the Church.
Defending the rights of indigenous peoples
Regarding indigenous people, participants recalled the dreams expressed by Pope Francis for the Amazon in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation ‘Querida Amazonia’, reaffirming their support for the protection of the rights of the indigenous and Afro-American peoples , their life, lands and cultures.
Synodality is the way of the Church
The Assembly reiterated that synodality is the way of the Church today : "It is not a passing fad or an empty slogan", it is the essence of the Church allowing all the People of God to walk together the message stresses. Participants therefore committed to bring this synodal method at grass-root level in their respective countries.
The implementation process of the Assembly’s conclusions will begin in February 2022 with the convening of ecclesial assemblies at a national level.