REVITALISING CATHOLIC TRADITION IN LATIN AMERICA

Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - On Sunday 4 March, dioceses in Spain will be celebrating Spanish America Day and, for the occasion, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America has published a message entitled: "Committed with America to the New Evangelisation", signed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., president of the commission.

"Today", the message reads, "the Church in Spain and the Church in America are, in some sense, facing the same challenges. Their rich Catholic tradition ... runs the risk of gradual erosion, Secularisation is advancing on all sides. There is no lack of hostility to the presence and message of the Church. The hedonistic and relativist trend of consumer and media society tends to displace and uproot the Christian culture of the people".

Therefore, it is necessary "to update, reformulate and revitalise Catholic tradition, rooting it more firmly in people's hearts, in the lives of families and in the culture of peoples, so that it may shine forth as beauty of truth, and as a promise of happiness and of a more human life for everyone". Both America and Europe are in need of a new evangelisation.

Speaking in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007, Benedict XVI noted that Latin America's most precious heritage is its Catholic faith, which "has animated its life and culture ... for more than five centuries". This heritage, as the bishops gathered in Aparecida said, finds expression "in charity, which on all sides inspires gestures and initiatives of solidarity with the poorest and those most in need". Likewise, it foments "an awareness of the dignity of the person, wisdom about life, passion for justice, hope against all hope, and joy of living even in very difficult circumstances".

The message of the pontifical commission recalls how "calls for a 'new evangelisation' have been made very frequently, by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and addressed in particular to Europe and America. ... There is a need for people who show that God is present in their own lives and at all levels of existence and coexistence; people who invite others to share a life that is new, authentic and more human, a life that refers back to the event which made it possible and which continually regenerates it. ... May the People of God not fail to pray in all dioceses on this Day, that divine providence may arouse new missionary vocations".

The message contains a number of recommendations to strengthen missionary commitment to new evangelisation. These include welcoming families and communities of Latin American immigrants, especially in the current period of crisis "because they need the closeness, solidarity, charity, evangelisation and catechesis of Christian communities". Another important aspect is to welcome Latin American priests who undertake pastoral service in foreign dioceses, and to involve young people in new evangelisation, following the journey which began with World Youth Day in Madrid on "a spiritual, educational an missionary pilgrimage" to the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.