Pope’s message to Latin American hierarchy: listen to the laity
May 11, 2017
In a message to the Catholic hierarchy of Latin America, Pope Francis has underlined the importance of listening to the laity, and being willing to join them in their struggle to live the Gospel in a troubled world.
The full text of the Pope’s message to the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) was made public by the Vatican on May 11. In it the Pope remarks that this week’s meeting of CELAM leaders, taking place in El Salvador, occurs against the “background music” of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Brazilian shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. He remarks: “Our Lady of Aparecida makes us grown, and places us on the path of the disciple. Aparecida is above all a school of discipleship.”
Recalling that the image of Our Lady of Aparecida was discovered by fishermen, the Pope says that fishermen have to contend with the uncertainty of the catch and the occasional inclemency of the weather. This is the plight of most working people, he said: working with “the insecurity of not knowing what the result will be.” The Holy Father went on to denounce the corruption that is prevalent in many Latin American countries:
And what hurts the most is seeing that, almost regularly, they go out to face the inclemency generated by one of the gravest sins that currently afflicts our Continent: corruption, that corruption that sweeps through lives, submerging them in the most extreme poverty. Corruption that destroys entire populations, subjecting them to precariousness.
Pope Francis urged the bishops of the region to appreciate the faith and the work of the laity. “Learning to listen to the People of God,” he said, “means to rid ourselves of our prejudices and rationalism, our functionalist mindsets, so as to understand how the Spirit acts in the hearts of so many men and women who with great zeal do not cease to throw nets and to fight to make the Gospel credible.” He told the prelates that they should “not be afraid to get dirty for our people.”
- Letter of the Holy Father to the participants in the 36th General Assembly of the Latin American Episcopal Council (Vatican press office)