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Dear brother bishops,
I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you. Just a year ago I was with you during my pastoral visit to the United States. There, I was impressed by the vitality and diversity of the Catholic community.
Throughout your history, the Church in your country has welcomed and integrated new waves of immigrants. In their rich variety of their languages and cultural traditions, they have shaped the changing face of the American Church.
In this context, I will commend the coming Fifth National Hispanic Pastoral Encuentro. The celebration of this V Encuentro will begin in dioceses this coming January, and conclude with a national celebration in September of 2018.
In continuity with its predecessors, the Encuentro seeks to acknowledge and value the specific gifts that Hispanic Catholics have offered, and continue to offer, to the Church in your country. But it is more than that: it is part of a great process of renewal and missionary outreach--one to which all of your local churches are called.
Our great challenge is to create a culture of encounter which encourages individuals and groups to share the richness of their traditions and experience; to break down walls and to build bridges.
The Church in America as elsewhere is called to go out from its comfort zone and be a leaven of communion; communion among ourselves, with our fellow Christians, and with all who seek a future of hope. We need to become ever more fully a community of missionary disciples, filled with love of the Lord Jesus and enthusiasm for the spread of the Gospel.
The Christian community is meant to be a sign of prophesy, of God´s plan for the entire humanity. We are called to be bearers of good news for a society kept by disconcerting social, cultural and spiritual shifts and increasing polarization.
It is my hope that the Church in your country, at every level, will accompany the Encuentro with its own reflection and pastoral discernment. In a particular way, I ask you to consider how your local churches can best respond to the growing presence, gifts, and potential of the Hispanic community.
Mindful of the contributions that the Hispanic community makes to the life of the nation, I pray that the Encuentro will bear fruit for the renewal of the American society and for the Church´s apostolate in the United States.
With gratitude to all [those] engaged in the preparation for the V Encuentro, I assure you of my prayers for this important initiative of your Conference.
Commending you and the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the local churches to the prayers of Mary Immaculate, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.
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