martes, 29 de mayo de 2007


Saturday, May 19, 2007
By Harold Segura

We already knew that the Presidency had granted us five minutes so that the “representatives from the Reformation” could present a greeting and a few brief words concerning our participation. So this is how we went—Dr. Néstor Míguez (Argentina) wrote the first draft, and on that basis the rest of the group, Dr. Juan Sepúlveda (Chile), Dr. Ofelia Ortega (Cuba) and yours truly, made additions and other supplements. The second draft was finalized during the 6:00 p.m. break yesterday, Friday. All that was left, then, was to go over it during the weekend and send an electronic copy to Dr. Walter Altmann (Brazil) for him to get acquainted with it and give any other input. So we came again into the meeting room to participate in the last session of the day.

But—surprise! The Secretary announced that, during the next few minutes, the assembly would listen to the speeches from church movements, the laity, the religious, the diocesan priests and the observers “from the Reformation”. We stared at each other in surprise. The review was not over yet, we didn’t have a printed copy, and we had not delivered the text to the translators or to the Secretariat. So, between rushes and enthusiasm, we did what was left during the next five minutes. Juan looked for a printer while Ofelia, Néstor and myself decided who was going to speak. “You do it,” said Néstor looking at me, “because you brought your jacket and tie.” “No,” Ofelia and I said, “you speak and please mention the fact that your father was an observer at Vatican II and at the Bishops’ Conference in Medellín.”

The Archbishop of São Paulo and one of the General Secretaries of the Conference, Odilio Scherer, announced our turn and asked the representatives of the laywomen to please prepare themselves to speak after us. Néstor came to the front, introduced himself and read the text we had agreed on. (See the full text on the appended document.) When he had been speaking for four minutes, the traffic light turned on announcing his time had come to an end, but Néstor didn’t see it. It’s hard to see because, due to a mistake by the organizers, the light faces the audience and the speaker doesn’t see it. When we saw the red light, the microphone lost its volume. There came a few seconds of silence, interrupted by Cardinal Errázuriz to say, “Pastor, go ahead. Take as much time as you need.” This has been the only exception made ever since the Conference began a week ago.

But there was still another gesture of ecumenical courtesy, at the end of the speech (which didn’t take more than seven minutes): the Assembly applauded as they hadn’t done before for any other speaker. It was the longest, most enthusiastic applause. And the applause was reinforced with words of gratefulness and kind greetings to the four evangelical observers both yesterday and today. This applause marked a good end to our first week. The applause could translate into something more important when the working sub-topics come to be considered. It is possible that ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue won’t be left out. Patience has been rewarded.


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