sábado, 2 de junio de 2007

ONE STEP BACKWARDS, TWO STEPS FORWARD

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
By Harold Segura

Between Monday and Tuesday, the Conference activities have revolved around the second draft of the Final Document. We were given most of the day on Monday to read it, to note the changes made, to make suggestions, and, in the case of experts and other special invitees like us Protestants, to approach those bishops that sympathize with some of our recommendations so that they, who have speaking and voting rights, might submit them in writing to the Presidency.
This new version included some of the additions approved in the last Commissions meeting, but others changed their place or simply disappeared. The truth is that the Redaction Commission has much power to add, displace or delete some items. Those “from de Reformation” have been attentive, most of all, to what the new document says about ecumenical dialogue and cooperation, and to the new terms that will be used to refer to our communities. We hope, for instance, that there will be no more language about “Protestant sects” or “Protestant proselytism” or things like that, as we heard on the first day of the Conference. As I said one of these days, it’s a “grammatical victory” that can have very positive effects on our future pastoral actions. We would like to see a document that opens new doors to brotherly fellowship and to collaboration in service. And I have faith that this is what will happen (am I still too optimistic?).
The Pentecostal pastor, Dr. Juan Sepúlveda (Chile), participated in drafting the current fifth chapter, titled “The communion of missionary disciples in the Church”, and particularly in the sub-commission on “Ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue”. The Methodist pastor, Dr. Néstor Míguez (Argentina), participated in the Commission in charge of drafting the first part of the document, which is now called “The life of our peoples today”. My contribution was in the sixth Commission, which would now be the eighth according to the new classification, in charge of “Some settings and priorities in the mission of the disciples”, and in the sub-commission that dealt with two of those mission settings: youth and children. The new redaction of the document is divided as follows:
PART ONE: THE LIFE OF OUR PEOPLES TODAY
Chapter 1: The missionary disciples
Chapter 2: The missionary disciples’ look on reality
PART TWO: THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE MISSIONARY DISCIPLES
Chapter 3: The joy of being missionary disciples to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Chapter 4: The vocation of missionary disciples to holiness
Chapter 5: The communion of missionary disciples in the Church
Chapter 6: The formation itinerary of missionary disciples

PART THREE: THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST FOR OUR PEOPLES
Chapter 7: The mission of the disciples in the service of full life
Chapter 8: Some settings and priorities in the mission of the disciples

CONCLUSION

The last changes will be made today, and the final version will be ready tomorrow, Wednesday. The Bishops have sent in today their “modes”, that is, the suggested changes. These are submitted to the Secretariat. And I am told that, up to Monday evening, the Secretariat had received 2000 suggestions for change. The task of the Redaction Commission is as great as its authority to set the final lines of the Document!

The new text has a better thematic consistency; it orders the topics in a well-known sequence (seeing, judging, acting); it is better connected to the motto of the Conference, and it improves redaction and style. All the above is true, but it is also true that it is more rigid in its statements—more in adherence to Benedict XVI. From the Protestant perspective it has points of great interest and openness (there will be time to discuss them later), but without ceasing to make us uncomfortable with its exclusivist ecclesiology (the uniqueness of the Church in the lines of Dominus Iesus) and its purposes of cultural and religious re-conquest. We will have to wait for the final changes in the version of Wednesday.

Right now the second official document of this Conference, titled “Message to the Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean”, is being voted. I like it. I read in its message direct references to ecumenical dialogue, to the preferential option for the poor, to the urgency to make the Church more dynamic through transformation in the Holy Spirit, to radical following of Jesus, to promoting open dialogue with the various social and religious actors , to the promotion of grassroots ecclesial communities, to “being servants at the shared table” (I recalled the book by Rafael Aguirre, The Shared Table) and to being “an open-arms Church.” As Néstor Míguez remarked, “what is new is not what is being said, but who is saying it.”

At this time I’m waiting for the vote on this last document… The electronic voting system didn’t work. “And I could guess how much it has cost,” remarks a Puerto Rican bishop near me… Now, there’s the final result. Votes in favor: 110. Votes against: 16. Abstentions: 2. The message has been passed!

So I must say that, in my opinion, the Conference is taking one step backwards and two steps forward.

Harold