By Vatican News
In January 1979, nearly 400 bishops and observers gathered in Puebla, a city southeast of Mexico City, to reflect on the theme: “The present and the future of evangelization in Latin America”. Pope Saint John Paul II was there on his first international journey as Pope, and he gave the opening address.
Pope Francis on Puebla
Pope Francis shared his personal memories of that event recalling how he was Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina at the time. He said he had followed the Puebla Conference “with great attention and interest”, but remembers three things, in particular.
Pope John Paul II in Puebla
The first, said Pope Francis, was the decision of Pope Saint John Paul II to make his first Apostolic Journey to Mexico and to deliver the opening address of the Conference. This address “was like the inauguration of his long, itinerant and fruitful missionary pontificate”, he said.
Pope Paul VI and Puebla
The second, Pope Francis continued, was the fact of using Pope Saint Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii nuntiandi” as the “background and source of reference” for the Puebla Conference. This is a “decisive document of great richness in the post-conciliar journey of the Church”, said Pope Francis, adding that it anticipated his own Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”.
From Medellín to Puebla
The third important fact, said the Pope, was the way “the insights and prophetic options of the Medellín Conference”, which took place in Colombia in 1968, were developed in Puebla, taking “a step forward in the journey of the Latin American Church towards its maturity”.
The contents of Puebla
Pope Francis went on to summarize some of the most significant contents of the Puebla Conference, including what he called “the creative chapters on the evangelization of popular culture and piety in Latin America”. The Pope also noted “the courageous criticism of the non-recognition of human rights and freedoms”, and “the options for the young, the poor and the builders of society”.
Commemorating this 40th Anniversary, he said, means “not only looking back” at the Puebla Conference, but projecting it ahead toward the present-day situation in the Church.