WASHINGTON—The bishops of theUnited States, Africa and Latin America stand in solidarity with each other andshould continue to collaborate on the issues facing their people and the wholeChurch, said the chairman of the International Justice and Peace Committee ofthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in two international addresses in July.Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, spoke at the opening of theSymposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), July 8, inthe Democratic Republic of the Congo and at the general coordinating meeting ofthe Conferencia Episcopal Lationamerica(CELAM), July 29, in Rio de Janeiro.
Speaking against the backdrop ofWorld Youth Day, Bishop Pates thanked the Latin American bishops for the "gift"of Pope Francis, saying, "His message about the poor, humility, social justice, mercy and profoundpersonal encounter with Jesus Christ our Savior resonates powerfully in theUnited States." Bishop Pates acknowledged the role of CELAM in helping to formulatethe pope's message, especially through their 2007 Aparecida document on evangelization.
BishopPates also expressed the desire of the U.S. bishops to continue collaboratingwith their Latin American counterparts on issues of common concern. "Theproblems of drugs, mining and extractives, arms, the environment andimmigration are common to all our nations," he said. "Let us seek possibleanswers with you for the good of our people and our Church."
Speakingin Africa, Bishop Pates noted the rapid growth in size and influence of theChurch in Africa and highlighted how, especially where civil governance isweak, the Church is a trusted and organized force for good. "You have spokenout against the problems and injustices created by the exploitation of oil in Africa,"he said. "Some of you have set up national level electoral monitoringnetworks to bring to light fraud and abuse that have tainted nationalelections. You have issued moral statements against corruption, fraud and abusecommitted by local governments. Other national conferences have brought ethnicand religious communities in conflict together to rebuild the social fabric ofsociety and create the foundations of sustainable peace."
BishopPates said he was proud of the collaboration between USCCB's InternationalJustice and Peace Committee and the African bishops. "Together we haveworked with the United States Government to increase development andhumanitarian assistance," he said. "We have encouraged the government inWashington to adopt policies that would promote justice and peace. Lastlythrough the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa we are working to supportthe pastoral efforts of the Church."
BishopPates noted that 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the encyclical letter "Pacemin Terris" by Blessed John XXIII, which he called "the foundational documentfor all of us dedicated to peace building." In both addresses, Bishop Pates praisedthe impact priests from Latin America and Africa are having in dioceses in theUnited States and voiced his gratitude to their bishops.
SECAM's16th plenary was held July 8-15, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.The meeting's theme was "The Church in Africa in service of reconciliation,justice and peace." Among the attendees there were seven cardinals, includingCardinal Christian Tumi of Cameroon, who gave the opening address, CardinalLaurent Monsengwo of the Congo, and SECAM president Cardinal Polycarp Pengo ofDar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Also in attendance were 125 bishops and secretariesgeneral of national and regional Catholic bishops' conferences from Africa andMadagascar.
TheCELAM meeting was July 29-August 1. It included representatives of 20 differentnational bishops' conferences, as well as Cardinal Marc Ouellet, presidentof the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and prefect of the Congregationfor Bishops, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation forthe Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga ofHonduras.
Thefull texts of Bishop Pates' addresses are available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/latin-america-caribbean/upload/pates-remarks-celam-2013-8-1.pdfand www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/africa/upload/secam-opening-address-2013-7-8.pdf
Keywords: Bishop Richard E. Pates, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops, Africa, Latin America, CELAM, SECAM, Symposiumof Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, Conferencia Episcopal Lationamerica, Pope Francis, Aparecida, evangelization, World YouthDay, Rio de Janeiro, Democratic Republic of the Congo, peace building,extractives, Pope John XXIII
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