Pope Francis tells Latin American Ecclesial Assembly not to be elitist 

By Courtney Mares for CNA

Pope Francis’ video message to CELAM sent Jan. 24, 2021. YouTube Screenshot.

Vatican City, Jan 25, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis sent a video message Sunday to Latin American Church leaders organizing a “synodal” regional assembly, in which he asked them not to be ideological elites, but to remain close to the people of God.

“We have much to learn,” Pope Francis said in the video sent to the organizers of the first Ecclesial Assembly of the Church in Latin American and the Caribbean Jan. 24.

“This [will be] a meeting of the people of God: lay men and women, religious men and women, priests, bishops. All the people of God walking together: praying, speaking, thinking, discussing, and seeking the will of God,” the pope said.

The regional Ecclesial Assembly is scheduled to take place in Mexico City Nov. 21-28 with the theme: “We are all missionary disciples on the move.”

In his video message, Pope Francis said: “I want to accompany you with my prayers” ahead of the Ecclesial Assembly. He added that this assembly will be something distinctive from the previous regional meeting of the Latin American bishops’ conference (CELAM) in Aparecida, Brazil — a conference in which he played a role as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

“May this Assembly not be an elite group separated from the holy, faithful people of God,” the pope said. “Together with the people. Do not forget it. We are all part of the people of God.”

“Out of the people of God an elite group crops up, an elite illumined by one ideology or another, but this is not the Church. The Church is found in the breaking of the bread. The Church gives herself to all, without exclusion.”

According to a press release from the Latin American bishops’ conference, the goal of the Ecclesial Assembly is to “contemplate the reality of our peoples and the deepening challenges of the continent” while “reviving pastoral commitment and seeking new paths with a synodal key.”

Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, Peru and president of the Latin American bishops’ conference took part in the launch of the Ecclesial Assembly, together with the president of the Brazilian bishops’ conference Bishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo and Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López of Monterrey, the president of the Mexican bishops’ conference.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, also participated in the virtual event. The launch culminated with a Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe presided over by the archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes.

Pope Francis said that prayer is essential in preparation for this assembly. He added: “The Lord is among us. May the Lord make himself heard.”

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  1. From the Holy Father speaking to the upcoming Latin Ecclesial Assembly: “The Church is found in the breaking of the bread [not any elitist ideology]. The Church gives herself to all, without exclusion.” As very much of an aside, what does this valuable reminder mean today in the different context of the Church in the United States?

    We read from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: “Every liturgical celebration, as an activity of Christ the priest and of his body, which is the Church, is a sacred action of a PREEMINENT kind.” In the northern context, the dissent by Cardinal Cupich from the USCCB and its President Archbishop Gomez–who clarify that with regard to President Biden: abortion remains the “preeminent” moral concern–we might discern that what the Cupich faction rejects is NOT simply this or that particular preeminence, but the whole idea of “preeminence”!

    Instead, “equality” (!), whereby some things might or might not be more equal than others, but all things remain within the one category of equality. Why else would one accept the cardinal’s hat except to be able to evasively play-off one moral “highlighting” (Cardinal Gregory’s term) against the others, all of which have their day in the sun as non-preeminent matters of social justice? Pick a day of the week!

    Why moral clarity when you can have politics? Why the non-demonstrable principle of non-contradiction when you can have it all? A culture that replaces even binary sexual complementarity (irreducible preeminence of both male and female) with Uncle McCarrick, then gay “marriage,” and now across-the-board gender theory?

    Why not “anthropological cultural change” (the “new paradigm” of Cardinal Parolin in 2016, but not recently) instead of the innate sense of hierarchy and of true and false? Why not only the People of God instead of, also, the distinct and preeminently sacramental Mystical Body of Christ? Why not admit abortion/gender-theory Biden to the Eucharist, deferring to his bubble-universe ideology: “Look, I have the great advantage of my faith, the Catholic social doctrine, and my political views COINCIDE.”

    Without at least the humbling acceptance of “preeminence”–versus solvent equality in its legion forms–no dialogue is possible, unless the USCCB first concedes even the right of the Church to self-government (the 12th-century Investiture Crisis all over again).

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