12 pastoral priorities for the Ecclesial Assembly

The Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean is nearing its conclusion with the adoption of twelve pastoral priorities.

The priorities are:

  • Recognise and value the initiative of young people in the ecclesial community and society as agents of transformation.
  • Increase formation in synodality to eradicate clericalism.
  • In the light of the People of God and Vatican II, renew our conception and experience of the Church as People of God, in communion with the richness of its ministeriality, while avoiding clericalism and promoting pastoral conversion.
  • Accompany victims of social and ecclesial injustices with a process of recognition and reparation.
  • Promote the participation of lay people in spaces of cultural, political, social and ecclesial transformation.
  • Reaffirm and give priority to an integral ecology in our communities beginning from the four dreams of ‘Querida Amazonia’ (Beloved Amazonia).
  • Boost the active participation of women in ecclesial ministries, instances of government, discernment and decision-making.
  • Hear the cry of the poor, excluded and the discarded.
  • Foster a personal encounter with Jesus Christ incarnated in the reality of the continent.
  • Promote and defend the dignity of life of the human person from conception to natural death.
  • Reform the formative itineraries of seminaries, including themes such as integral ecology, Indigenous peoples, inculturation, interculturality and the social thought of the Church.
  • Accompany Indigenous and African-American peoples in the defence of life, land and culture.

Many of these are also directly relevant to Australian circumstances, particularly in light of the forthcoming Second Assembly of the Australian Plenary Council in July 2022.

From the point of view of promoting the lay apostolate of lay people, the priority to “promote the participation of lay people in spaces of cultural, political, social and ecclesial transformation” is particularly significant.


Rafael Luciani (Twitter)

Paraguay launches Year of Laity

Paraguay’s bishops launched a Year of the Laity on the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday 21 November.

“In 2022 we invite you to continue like those disciples of Emmaus, who ‘instantly set out to proclaim Christ’ (cf. Lk 24, 33-35). In the light of this Gospel we want to remain open to what the Lord wants to say to us and dedicate a new time of reflection on the being and mission of the laity , who ‘are men and women of the church in the heart of the world and men and women of the world in the heart of the church’

“We must give priority to evangelisation,” the bishops noted in a statement at the end of their General Assembly. “Furthermore, it is necessary to evangelise the field of politics and politicians, according to the proposal of the Church’s Social Doctrine, so that they love the country and not just their interests”.

Looking at the situation in the country, the bishops called, among other things, for agrarian reform and real dialogue with a concrete and in-depth approach to solving the problems related to land tenure and ownership.

They also noted a “deepening of inequalities” in various sectors and areas, citing in particular education, land rights, health, labor, indigenous peoples and farmers.

“We are in a very difficult context, there is no clear proposal or adequate support for the development of peasant and indigenous family agriculture, an agriculture that provides food to people; rather, large-scale agriculture is preferred for export,” the statement continued.

“We see a lack of opportunities for the poor. Many of the laws passed by state institutions are to the detriment of the poorest. We are concerned about the lack of dialogue and listening.”

Given this context of social inequality, the bishops emphasised the importance of the family as a stable basis of society, and call on the state to promote and accompany them, considering the creation of a family ministry appropriate.

The bishops also highlighted growing insecurity associated with drug trafficking, which has “permeated public institutions and increasing violence.”

And they warned of a worrying increase in homicides, feminicide, robbery and assaults.

“The government and the responsible institutions must redouble their efforts to restore peace to our people,” the said.

“The Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference proposes to dedicate the year 2022 to the laity,” they concluded. “This pastoral initiative is an opportunity to address the great issues of national and ecclesiastical reality and to take actions that allow for personal conversion and social change by strengthening what is already being done in the dioceses of the country.”


El 2022 será el año dedicado a los laicos (Diocesis de Ciudad del Este)

Mensaje del obispos del Paraguay Año del Laicado (Episcopal Conference of Paraguay)

The Bishops: “We must give priority to evangelization and also necessary to evangelize the field of politics and politicians” (Foreign Affairs Co NZ)

Inauguration of the Year of the Laity: “on the way to proclaim Christ” (Fides)

Latin America’s Ecclesial Assembly begins

The Ecclesial Assembly for Latin American and the Caribbean takes place this week from 21-28 November 2021. An event that involves lay people, religious and clergy, it is the fruit of a decision taken by the bishops of the region at Aparacida, Brazil, in 2007 that “the laity should participate in discernment, decision taking, planning and execution” with respect to life in the Church.

“More recently, CELAM began a process of synodal restructuring in 2018 that was carried out with the participation not only of the continent’s bishops but also of other ecclesial subjects — laity, religious, priests — and other ecclesiastical institutions,” explains Professor Rafael Luciani, an advisor to the Latin American bishops and the Synod of Bishops. Rafael also delivered the inaugural Cardijn Lecture this month.

The major preparatory document for the Assembly is the “Document for the journey” structured in the classical see-judge-act format and published by CELAM.

Entitled “The life of our peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the first part of the document sets out the major issues facing both society and the Church today.

As well as the Covid crisis, it points to the problems of social and economic structures that have turned against human beings. It points to the ecological crisis, growing exclusion, throwaway culture, gaps in education, growing violence, migrants as the new poor. It highlights the challenges facing Indigenous communities.

At a political level, it points to the problems of “democratisation” and “globalisation” as well as the challenges of an information society.

With respect to the Church, the document points to the challenges posed by growing secularisation, the rise of evangelical churches as well as issues facing women and young people in the Church. It also addresses the sexual abuse crisis and the problem of clericalism.

Moving to the judge section entitled “The encounter with Jesus enlightens the life of our peoples,” it emphasises the need to grow as followers of Jesus, to move out in a missionary way. Moreover, it clearly links evangelisation with the tasks of human promotion and authentic liberation.

Finally, Part III is entitled “On the way to personal, community and social conversion,” also echoing Cardijn’s classical formula on the need to transform “life, milieu and mass.”

It focuses on several areas for action, including the need to promote “integral ecology,” a solidarity-based and sustainable economy at the service of the common good, a culture of peace, interculturality, the promotion of democracy and renewal of the Church.


Pope Francis calls for ‘prayer and dialogue’ as Latin American Ecclesial Assembly opens (Crux)

Document for the journey towards the Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM)

Asemblea Eclesial de América Latina y El Caribe (CELAM)