States Dinner Remarks
Archbishop of Guadalajara
Denver, Colorado, August 2, 2011
The post-synodal letter Ecclesia in America by Blessed John Paul II is a document that sheds light on the reality of our America. It proposes solutions based on the Scriptures and sets lofty and noble goals for our apostolic work.
This pastoral letter is the fruit of the Synod for America, celebrated in Rome under the watchful and benevolent eye of John Paul II, from November 16 to December 12, 1997. There were in attendance representatives from the episcopates of all the countries of the Americas – North, South and the Caribbean.
It seems to me that of all the many interesting ideas that were discussed, the one that stood out most was that of our Unity in Christ who is Risen, Living and Present in His Church, as expressed in the synod’s theme: “The Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: The Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America.”
Blessed John Paul II possessed a deep intuition about the continent’s unity, a unity that serves as both a point of departure and a goal for our pastoral actions. Ever since the convocation of the Synod for America, made formally in 1994 as yet another regional synod that was being prepared by the Church to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Pope called it simply the Synod for America, not the Synod for North America or South America or the Caribbean, as if they were three distinct entities. This is because there exists an American Christian identity: Between Catholics and members of other Christian faiths, we make up the majority of the inhabitants of the hemisphere. We are a Christian continent. John Paul II wrote:
I asked that the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops reflect on America as a single entity, by reason of all that is common to the peoples of the continent, including their shared Christian identity and their genuine attempt to strengthen the bonds of solidarity and communion between the different forms of the continent's rich cultural heritage. The decision to speak of “America” in the singular was an attempt to express not only the unity which in some way already exists, but also to point to that closer bond which the peoples of the continent seek and which the Church wishes to foster as part of her own mission, as she works to promote the communion of all in the Lord (Ecclesia in America, 5).
Our common problems, which are many and serious, must be confronted based on our identity and faith in Christ, which we, the majority, profess. We must seek solutions in order to elevate the dignity of mankind and to strengthen the reign of God.
Those of us who seek to change our vices, practicing communion and solidarity with the Body of Christ, seek solutions in the Risen Christ to the following common problems: globalization with its positive and negative consequences; the weight of foreign debt; the trafficking and consumption of drugs; the need to promote vocations to the priesthood and the religious life; the threats to the family from the culture of death and a society ruled by the powerful; the reality of the marginalization of indigenous peoples and Americans of African origin; the painful situation of migrants. These are all realities common to this continent and instead of being remedied they have worsened as the last few years have gone by, such as in the instances of migration, the deterioration of the family and the very deep divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”
The Knights of Columbus, laymen organized and committed to the causes of Christ and His Church, must familiarize themselves with this document, Ecclesia in America. The teachings of our late Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II, shed light upon solutions based on faith in Christ and insist upon a realistic apostolate that must contribute to solving even problems of a structural nature, for the good of all brothers and sisters in need.
We must pray and act based on solid faith and total love for Christ. Ecclesia in America has a special place, as too must our hearts, for Mary, the Lord’s Mother and our Mother, Holy Mary of Guadalupe. Of her, the Pope affirms:
The appearance of Mary to the native Juan Diego … had a decisive effect on evangelization. Its influence greatly overflows the boundaries of Mexico, spreading to the whole Continent. America, which historically has been, and still is, a melting-pot of peoples, has recognized in the mestiza face of the Virgin of Tepeyac, “in Blessed Mary of Guadalupe, an impressive example of a perfectly inculturated evangelization.” Consequently, not only in Central and South America, but in North America as well, the Virgin of Guadalupe is venerated as Queen of all America (Ecclesia in America, 11).
The Knights of Columbus must not forget the example of faithfulness to Christ by the Holy Martyrs, who were Knights of Columbus and who gave their lives for Christ’s love, and thus encouraged by their intercession and example, make their own the causes of Christ and the Church in this Continent of America.
† Juan Card. Sandoval Iñiguez
Archbishop of Guadalajara