Pope to Mexico City Ecclesial Assembly: listen and be creative
By Alessandro De Carolis – Vatican City
Pope Francis addressed a message to the first Ecclesial Assembly bringing together Caribbean and Latin American countries encouraging them to "listen" to the voice of the people in their discernment and be open to "abundant" creativity in their renewed missionary outreach. The week-long meeting represents an outcome of the synodal path recently initiated by the Pope with more than one thousand participants gathered in Mexico City and online. He refers to the three key words in preparation for the 2023 Synod - communion, participation and mission - while offering two other words for consideration.
Listen, especially to the forgotten
In 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil, where the future Pope was also present, the protagonists were the Latin American bishops. The Pope recalled that back then they were called "to be missionary disciples" and to "encourage hope" leading "to the horizon of the Guadalupe Jubilee in 2031 and the Jubilee of the Redemption in 2033." He noted that before those still distant celebrations, the Synod will take place with the aim of changing certain structures, giving new space and importance to the voice of all the baptized, something different from when it concerned a meeting of only bishops.
The Ecclesial Assembly in Mexico City marks a first important reflection of this new process, and Pope Francis invites them to focus their work especially on the dynamic of "listening." He says this process also includes "dialogue and discernment," and this type of assembly "facilitates mutual exchange, 'listening' to the voice of God to the point of hearing the cry of the people with Him and listening to the people to the point of sharing with them where God is calling us," especially when the cry comes from the forgotten.
The second word the Pope highlights is "overflow" or abundance. Over and beyond prayer and dialogue that requires "community discernment," there is also the need for finding "ways to overcome differences so that they do not become divisive and polarizing," the Pope explains. In conclusion, the Pope prayed that "your Assembly be an expression of the 'overflow' of the creative love of the Spirit, who urges us to go out to encounter others without fear, and who encourages the Church to become ever more evangelizing and missionary through a process of pastoral conversion."