viernes, 18 de mayo de 2007


Saturday, May 11, 2007

I received an e-mail from a pastor friend who is anti-ecumenical (that’s how he proudly introduces himself) and says, “I regret that you have to fill that role, but I am of the opinion that it is fateful for the witness of Christianity.” He’s not the only one who has written to me protesting that I’m in Aparecida. Another friend has invited me to read 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 so I realize my error. Those of us who participated in the encounter between the World Baptist Alliance and the Vatican in December, 2001, received similar reactions. They said we “were surrendering to Rome and ignoring centuries of persecution.”

All of this helps me remember in whose name I am here. I’m representing the Latin American Baptist Union and also World Vision International. The bishops greet me as one of the seven non-Catholic observers. But one thing must be clear—I’m not representing a unanimous people in terms of ecumenical outlook. Protestant-Evangelicals in Latin America, in their majority, are anti-ecumenical. That’s the statistical fact! Even the word ecumenical arouses reservations and has to be camouflaged as inter-confessional so it won’t seem so fateful.

Mi own evangelical pilgrimage (I converted to the evangelical faith when I was 18) has not been ecumenical from its start. I belong to a generation of churches for whom being evangelical was to be anti-Catholic—the years when we used to hear about Catholic parish priests who persecuted evangelical pastors, and about evangelical pastors who demonized Catholics. Being an evangelical was “moving out of Roman slavery.” And Catholics would interpret our conversion as a “denial of faith and outright apostasy.”

My ecumenical trajectory (or my inter-confessional trajectory, if that sounds better) is recent. It goes back to only fifteen years, when I realized that, in my country, one had to opt for peace, and that peace is built with respect among those who are different. I was then that I understood that respectful dialogue does not involve surrendering your principles; that you can change your attitude without changing your views; that you can work for the common good even with those who profess their faith in a different way.

So here I am, representing a diverse people (that’s one of the virtues we Protestant-Evangelicals have), with large anti-ecumenical portions whom I also hope to represent with dignity. I won’t tell anyone that we evangelicals are ecumenical, because I would be lying. “Bishop,” I will tell the one talking to me, “among us evangelicals there are some who are ultra-ecumenical, others who are semi-ecumenical, anti-ecumenical or neo-ecumenical, among other possible categories.” It’s just like in the Catholic Church. We are very similar in this respect.
There are reasons for being here—to witness to mutual respect and to hurry along a new stage in history when all of us together can join our efforts in order to work for things that, up to now, have not interested many of those who are anti-ecumenical—peace, justice, and the dream of a continent that lives with dignity. This is an evangelical task.

Your brother in Christ,


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