From August 23 to 26, bishops, leaders of religious congregations, and lay Catholic leaders met in Medellin, Colombia at a major congress to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the second meeting of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM).
Mgr Luc Cyr, Archbishop of Sherbrooke (Quebec), Sister Michelle Payette, MIC, CRC Past-President, and Father Timothy Scott, CSB, were the three Canadian visitors of this gathering. It was an extraordinary experience of ecclesial communion as well as visible support for the Holy Father Pope Francis at this difficult time in the Church.
Opened by Pope Paul VI, the 1968 meeting had as its purpose to bring the vision and insights of the Second Vatican Council into the life of the Latin American Church. Through its analysis of the ‘‘signs of the times’’, the bishops moved the Church hierarchy away from its association with political power and toward the poor and disenfranchised. The theology of liberation was a direct result.
This year’s congress focussed on four areas:
- Integral human development;
- Evangelization and faith development;
- The visible Church and its structures;
- New challenges.
There was a particular concern for current political and economic realities and the resulting social upheaval with very large numbers of displaced persons in Latin America. Also of concern was the increasingly autocratic rule being experienced in several countries as democratic structures fall by the wayside. The Church has an important role in preserving the dignity of people in places where their rights and wellbeing are threatened.