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Pope Francis emphasizes model of St. Juan Diego for Church in Latin America

Pope Francis emphasizes model of St. Juan Diego for Church in Latin America

Pope Francis meets with members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on June 27, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 27, 2024 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis received on June 27 the members and advisers of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (CAL), to whom he proposed imitating the example of St. Juan Diego to “build bridges of reconciliation, inclusion, and fraternity.”

In his welcoming address, the Holy Father recalled that “the Second Vatican Council has called us to a profound renewal.”

The synodal style of the Church in Latin America

Quoting Benedict XVI, the pope noted that the reform of the Church is always an “ablatio”: “a removal, so that the ‘nobilis forma’ (noble form), the face of the Bride, and along with it also that of the Bridegroom, the living Lord, becomes visible.”

Only in this way, the Holy Father continued, “does the divine penetrate and only in this way does a congregation arise, an assembly, a meeting, a purification, that pure community that we long for: a community in which one ‘I’ is no longer against another ‘I.’”

The Holy Father explained that with the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium he wanted precisely to collaborate with this “ablatio” to renew the Roman Curia and, among other things, make the CAL a “diakonía” (service) that allows the Church in Latin America to experience the pastoral care and affection of the successor of Peter.

The pontiff noted that the CAL is currently called to be “an active subject that promotes the necessary transformation that we all need, that is, to help with discretion, prudence, and effectiveness so that we live synodality, to walk together moved by the Spirit of the Lord in Latin America.”

The pope said that in this way they must promote with all their interlocutors, both in the Holy See and in CELAM (the Latin American Bishops’ Conference), CEAMA (the Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia), CLAR (the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious), the bishops’ conferences, and all the ecclesial organizations that directly or indirectly serve the Church in Latin America, “a synodal style of thinking, feeling, and doing.”

St. Juan Diego as a source of inspiration

To accomplish this, he invited the members and advisers of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America to have St. Juan Diego as a source of inspiration: “As we know, he was an extremely modest and simple Indigenous man. The Virgin doesn’t choose him because of his erudition, because of his organizational capacity, or because of his relationship with power.”

“On the contrary, Holy Mary of Guadalupe is moved because he knows he is very small. The awareness of his inability, accompanied by the discovery of the great love and closeness that the Virgin Mary has for him, allows St. Juan Diego to go look for the bishop and helps him to speak to him with charity and clarity about what the Lady from heaven asks of him.”

Pope Francis noted that the bishop, who also has a ministry to fulfill, requests a sign to be able to believe him. “St. Juan Diego obeys and finds on Tepeyec Hill the sign that was sought.”

According to the Holy Father, in these scenes “we can see with simplicity and depth simultaneous synodality and communion.”

“The faithful layman announces the good news, trusting fundamentally in the ecclesial and supernatural dimension of his mission, and not so much in his own strengths. This is a beautiful experience of synodal conversion! This same trust also allows him to accept, without complications, the responsibility that the bishop has within the community.”

For Pope Francis, the result of this exercise of synodality and communion “is not only the roses that appear in front of everyone, not only is it the miraculous image printed on the saint’s tilma, but the beginning of a process of fraternal reconciliation between peoples who are inimical to each other.”

“This is the inspiring style,” the Holy Father said, “that CAL must promote throughout the Latin American region and, when required, even beyond it. Inspire, do not impose. Inspire, motivate, and engender freedom so that each ecclesial and social reality may discern its own path, also following the movements of the Spirit, in communion with the universal Church.”

“CAL must build bridges of reconciliation, of inclusion, of fraternity! Bridges that allow ‘walking together’ to be not a mere rhetorical expression but an authentic pastoral experience!” the pontiff exclaimed.

Finally, in view of the 2025 Jubilee, Pope Francis encouraged the commission members to invite the people of God to “be on pilgrimage and announce the message of hope that the entire region is urged to hear and rediscover.”

“May Holy Mary of Guadalupe sustain us and encourage us to persevere in the joint effort to make the Church a community increasingly in the style of Jesus,” he said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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