Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean – “We are all outgoing missionary disciples”



We, members of the Ecclesial Assembly, gathered in a virtual and face-to-face manner, at the headquarters of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, from November 21 to 28, 2021, under the loving gaze of Saint Mary of Guadalupe, we greet the People of God on the way, to the men and women of our beloved Latin America and the Caribbean.

We are united by the desire to rekindle the spirit of the Ve General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Aparecida in 2007, a spirit that is in phase with previous General Conferences as well as with future Jubilees, Guatemalan in 2031 and of Redemption in 2033.

We confess the Risen Jesus Christ who called us once again. Thus, as was the case in Aparecida, he urged us to declare ourselves missionary disciples of his Kingdom, sent to radiate in overflowing joy the happiness of meeting him, so that we can all have full life in him (1) . Since then, Jesus has accompanied us in the task of rethinking and relaunching the evangelizing mission in the current circumstances of our regions; a task which has committed us to a path of resolutely missionary conversion, in order to submit everything to the service of the advent of the Kingdom of life (2); a goal towards which we are aiming and which requires greater pastoral responsibility; prophetic dream that the Lord confirms today and encourages us to realize together, guided by his Spirit.

It is with great joy that we lived this Assembly as a true experience of synodality, of mutual listening and of community discernment of what the Spirit wants to say to his Church. We have walked together recognizing our multiple diversity. This diversity, however, is above all that which unites us; throughout our discussions, our hearts of disciples turned to the realities that the continent is experiencing, in its pains and its hopes.

We see and denounce the pain of the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the scourge of misery and injustice. We are hurt by the cry of the destruction of the common home and by the “culture of rejection” which affects above all women, migrants and refugees, the elderly, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants. We are affected by the impact and consequences of the pandemic, which further increase social inequalities, even going so far as to compromise the food security of a large part of our population. They are painful the cries of those who suffer because of clericalism and authoritarianism, which lead to the exclusion of the laity, especially women in the bodies of discernment and decision-making on the mission of the Church, constituting a great obstacle to synodality. We are also concerned about the lack of prophecy and effective solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable.

On the other hand, the presence of signs of the Kingdom of God fills us with hope, and leads us on new paths of listening and discernment. The synodal path is an important space of encounter and openness for the transformation of ecclesial and social structures; which makes it possible to renew the missionary enthusiasm and proximity to the poorest and most excluded. We look at religious life with hope; women and men who, living against the tide, bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, as well as to the fervor of the popular piety of our peoples.

This Assembly is a kairos, a time conducive to listening and discernment that connects us in a renewed way to the pastoral orientations of Aparecida and the magisterium of Pope Francis. It encourages us to open new missionary paths towards the geographical and existential peripheries proper to an outgoing Church.

So what are these challenges and pastoral orientations that God calls us to take up with more urgency? The voice of the Spirit resounded in dialogue and discernment, signaling various horizons which inspire our ecclesial hope: the need to work for a renewed encounter of all with Jesus Christ incarnate in the reality of the continent; support and promote the leadership of young people; adequate care for victims of abuse occurring in ecclesial contexts and engaging in prevention; the promotion of the active participation of women in ministries and in ecclesial discernment and decision-making spaces; the promotion of human life from conception to natural death; training in synodality to eradicate clericalism; the promotion of the participation of the laity in the spaces of cultural, political, social and ecclesial transformation; listen to and accompany the cry of the poor, excluded and left behind; the renewal of the formation programs in the seminaries so that they assume the integral ecology, the value of the indigenous peoples, the inculturation and the interculturality, the social thought of the Church as necessary themes, as well as all that contributes to an adequate formation for synodality; to renew, in the light of the Word of God and of Vatican II, our conception and our experience of the People of God; reaffirm and prioritize living the dreams of Querida Amazonia ; support indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in the defense of their life, their land and their cultures.

With great gratitude and joy, we reaffirm in this Ecclesial Assembly that the way of living the pastoral conversion discerned in Aparecida is that of synodality. The Church is synod in itself, synodality belongs to its very essence; so it’s not a passing fad or a meaningless slogan. With synodality, we learn to walk together as Church of the People of God, involving each one – and without any exclusion – in the task of communicating the joy of the Gospel to all, as outgoing missionary disciples.

The overflowing of the creative force of the Spirit invites us to continue discerning and promoting the fruits of this unprecedented ecclesial event for our Churches and local communities on their way in Latin America and the Caribbean. We commit ourselves to continue on the path that the Lord shows us, learning and creating the appropriate mediations, in order to generate the necessary transformations in mentalities, in relationships, in practices and in ecclesial structures (3).

The pastoral itinerary outlined in front of us will guide us in the process of missionary and synodal conversion.

We give thanks to the Lord for Life. We also thank all those who made this Assembly possible and we place them under the protection of the Virgin of Guadalupe who accompanies with her maternal tenderness the path of the Church on this continent. We entrust to him the fruits of this ecclesial event and ask his intercession so that with courage and creativity, we become the outgoing Church, synodal and missionary, which the Lord expects of us, because we are all outgoing missionary disciples.

Pastoral challenges of the Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean

1. Recognize and value the role of young people in the ecclesial community and in society as agents of transformation.

2. Support the victims of social and ecclesial injustices through the process of recognition and reparation.

3. Promote the active participation of women in ministries, governance, discernment and ecclesial decision-making bodies.

4. Promote and defend the dignity of life and of the human person from conception to natural death.

5. Increase training in synodality in order to eradicate clericalism.

6. To promote the participation of the laity in the spaces of cultural, political, social and ecclesial transformation.

7. Listen to the cry of the poor, excluded and abandoned.

8. Reform the training courses of the seminars by including subjects such as integral ecology, indigenous peoples, inculturation and interculturality as well as the social thought of the Church.

9. To renew, in the light of the Word of God and of Vatican II, our conception and our experience of the Church of the People of God, in communion with the richness of its ministry, which avoids clericalism and promotes pastoral conversion.

10. Reaffirm and prioritize an integral ecology in our communities, based on the four dreams of Querida Amazonia(4)

11. Promote a personal encounter with Jesus Christ incarnate in the reality of the continent.

12. Support indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in the defense of life, their land and cultures.

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