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)

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)

Cardijn Lecture – The emergence of synodality

Thanks to all who joined our inaugural Cardijn Lecture with Rafael Luciani, Elissa Roper and Nancy Conrad on Saturday.

Here is the video of the event:

Here also are the accompanying slides:

Synodality and Reform (Google Slides online version)

Synodality and Reform (PPT version)

Rafael has kindly also shared the following documents for further reading:

Medellin as a synodal event: From collegiality to synodality

From the synod on synodality to the synodalization of the whole church

And Elissa Roper has also shared a list of references for her response:

The experience of Australian Catholics

Thanks once again to all our speakers for their inspiring contributions, to Tony Robertson for his technical and hosting support and to Robbie Gigacz for editing the video for YouTube.