martes, 29 de mayo de 2007

Greeting by the Observers from the Evangelical Tradition at CELAM’s V General Assembly

Dearly beloved Cardinals, Bishops, priests, brothers and sisters: First of all, we would like to express our gratefulness and appreciation for the invitation received from Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, in the name of Pope Benedict XVI, which has made it possible for us to come alongside all of you at this grand event in our condition as observers. This follows up on the initiative of Pope John XXIII, who invited observers from other Christian churches and confessions to attend Vatican Council II. One of them was a Latin American, Dr. José Míguez Bonino. We trust that this continuity, which is also expressed in bilateral dialogues between the Roman Catholic Church and several of the Churches we come from, and in the Mixed Working Commission between your Church and the World Council of Churches, will be a sign and an announcement of a greater and better ecumenical cooperation in our continent, which is so much in need of signs of understanding, of mutual acceptance and of fraternal re-encountering.
Since the beginning of this Conference we have felt encouraged and challenged by the call issued by Pope Benedict XVI to build the new missionary awakening required by our Latin America and the Caribbean upon the reading and deep knowledge of the God’s Word. There are two passages in this Word that help us to interpret the meaning of our presence among you. We recall those words of Jesus, when he asserts that “he who is not with me is against me” (Mt 12:30), which point out that it is only around Jesus, the Christ, that we can find the focus of our unity. In a complementary text, when, having learned of someone who cast out demons in Jesus’ name, and when the disciples wanted to forbid this man from continuing to do so because he was not one of them, Jesus told John: “Do not stop him. No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk 9:39-40). Despite the historical and doctrinal differences which, painfully, make it impossible for us to participate together at the Communion Table, these texts allow us to assert that we are united to all of you by Jesus’ call to proclaim and celebrate the abundant life that our peoples are so much in need of.
We cannot but acknowledge the testimony and prominence of the Roman Catholic Church in the evangelization of this American continent of ours. Guided by the Spirit of God and His Word, beyond the ambiguities of historical circumstances, exemplary men and women, faithful disciples and missionaries of the Lord, have planted the Word in this continent, and have built communities that have been at the service of the neediest in Christ’s name, have witnessed to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their words and deeds, and have faithfully celebrated the Triune God. This Catholic presence has resulted in a faith that is rich in religious expressions, that have succeeded in allowing Christ’s message to take deep roots in the various cultures present in our continent, both the indigenous ones and those originated in later immigration, which have contribute towards shaping the beautifully diverse faces of our peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Our Evangelical churches have collaborated too, especially after the processes of national emancipation in the continent, in the construction of the witness to Christ in these lands, either through immigrant communities that have brought with them the faith of their fathers, or through various efforts at evangelization, which have not been deprived, in turn, of contradictions and ambiguities. But many faithful believers of the Evangelical faith have collaborated in the evangelization and the culture of these lands, in some cases even shedding their own blood as martyrs in defense of the dignity and justice of our peoples.
In order to prevent this diverse Christian presence from being marked by confrontation and competition, but rather by the common call to be disciples and missionaries of our Lord Jesus Christ, we think it is necessary to use a language that will make it possible to keep the channels of communication that are already in place, and even to open new bridges. Recognizing each other as Christian Churches and Communities is the way to keep open the doors to dialogue—a dialogue which is indispensable in order to expel, all of us together, any sectarian or belligerent practice that works against the genuine missionary spirit.
Guided by the Spirit of God, we will have to learn to know and recognize each other more and more as parts of the one and multiple people of God, debtors to His manifold grace. We have been called to grow in the unity in diversity to which we are called by the Lord, so that, in mutual respect, in love, encountering each other in the ways of faith, we might proclaim His holy Name, and in Him, as disciples and missionaries coming from different traditions and ways of expressing our faith, to announce fullness of life for our peoples.

Ofelia Ortega
Juan Sepúlveda
Harold Segura
Néstor Míguez
Walter Altmann

Aparecida, May, 2007

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