Although I did not participate directly in this meeting, as a secretary in the Celam, I can testify to the many echoes that were recorded in the corridors and walls of our offices about what was said and concluded there.
The following expressions of my Bishop Gerardo Valencia Cano, although unknown to the missionaries and in general to all the people within the Church, impacted us and made us rethink the action in the Missionary Pastoral as such:
"From my first contacts with the Indigenous cultures, I had the concern that the missionaries were forced many times to intuit or improvise our pastoral action for lack of greater anthropological knowledge; I have had the impression that our pastoral work often fails due to lack of adequate planning ... "Bishop Gerardo Valencia Cano.
Gerardo Valencia Cano., Bishop of Buenaventura, being president of the DMC (Department of Missions of the Celam) convened the meeting after an exhaustive preparation, which took into account the analyzes extracted from the data thrown by the surveys sent to all missionary bishops on the occasion of said preparation, the reports and contributions requested to each of them on the conditions of missionary work in their respective jurisdictions, the opinions of social scientists who, during the development of their anthropological investigations, knew and valued the work carried out by the different churches in the different national territories, the expectations, doubts and programs that arose in the so-called mission territories about the future of the communities entrusted to their pastoral work.With all that material collected through the work prior to the realization of that First Missionary Encounter of Latin America, this event was held in Melgar from April 20 to 27/68
Melgar-Colombia, name of the town, where the meeting was held, turned out to be a one hundred percent prophetic act . Its importance was not understood at the time but by a minimum group of missionaries who put it into practice in their respective fields of action. His analyzes and conclusions were collected in a beautiful document that after his impression was subjected to the punishment of living in perpetual darkness because his light compromised too clearly the need for a profound change in the missionary action.
After a careful and long preparation, the presented document was elaborated with the intense work, during eight days, of 18 Bishops and Missionary Prelates of Latin America, together with more than forty specialists in the different sciences and disciplines (AG 26) related to the pastoral missionary
Brief summary for an approach to such an important document:
In Education , showed the urgent need to discover pedagogical models that allowed the conservation and dynamization of different cultural identities, so as to correct the disintegration that produced the sole teaching of values, and organization of national society. Impossible to ignore, the contributions, comments and suggestions of anthropologists, José de Recasens and Gerardo Reichel- Dolmatoff.
In Liturgy, he visualized the different expressions of the "Seeds of the Word" present in the religious rituals of the Afro and indigenous communities. He showed the need to enrich the Roman rituals with the autochthonous traditions, not only in the matter of songs, gestures and celebrative matters, but also in the very conception of the fair and fraternal sharing proposed by the memory of the Eucharistic supper. In this space, the role of present advisors as the one of Josep Camps was decisive .
In Evangelization, he courageously addressed the dilemma of evangelizing from the enlightenment of faith in a loving, fraternal, egalitarian, libertarian and just God that is present in all cultures, evangelization that allows to respect in that way the norms and rites of religions. own of each culture. This presentation by the theologian Noel Olaya Perdomo , was taken up by Buenaventura Klopemburg when he gave his presentation on the religious syncretism in Brazil, specifically referring to the Christian elements of Voodoo and Candomblé.
In Spirituality. The paper by Gustavo Gutiérrez emphasized Jesus' preference for the poor, his total commitment to justice, and the immediate urgency to create just, supportive, free, happy and fraternal Christian communities in the style of the acts of the apostles. Second Galilee with his presentation on the small Christian communities that through the method of seeing-judging-acting gathered around the prayerful reading of the word to analyze from the poor the cause of injustice, reaffirmed the spiritual line of commitment to the poor and the urgency to create spaces where it would be possible to live the project of the Kingdom of God.
In politics / economics, it was clearly formulated that fidelity to the gospel requires always seeking consensus, organization based on the participation of all, privileging authority as a service from and with the poor. No to the absurd and inhuman accumulation of wealth. Yes to the fair and equitable distribution of goods.
In inculturated apostolic forms, Monsignor Samuel Ruiz , Bishop of Chiapas, presented in his presentation the need to open up to priestly forms that privilege service as the essence of the priestly exercise. In this way, it would be possible that starting from their own cultural condition of service and their essential status as head of the family, the Church could approach a solid and authentic evangelization between different cultures.
The challenge to the formation of the native clergy was open, without violating their customs and ethnic culture . Situation, which has not yet become present among us, due to the presence of foreign clergy. In our environment "the lack of autochthonous vocations is mainly due to reasons of intellectual nature, 68%, and of affective order such as celibacy, absence of the family, etc. 62% ". (1)
In ecclesiology , the definition of the Church was privileged as the meeting of a community of communities in which there are diversity of cultural forms, of celebration, with fidelity and respect for the authority that serves the people of God, guiding them towards full communion of services until reaching the full brotherhood and humanity of the sons and daughters of God.
The liturgical manifestation of the Encounter , presented a radical change within the known liturgical structure, not without having previously argued the why of each moment.
It was based on the readings of the Word of the day, explaining and making known the history of the first Christian communities, who gathered in the houses of the believers offered their homes and in them the news and events that affect the believers were heard, friends and family absent from the first Christian communities. The Nicene Creed was intoned, as the creed of the Universal Church. The bread was shared, which was distributed to those present, by the lay missionaries present.
The absence of other moments of the Liturgy, were open to the expressions of the different customs, and cultures of the ethnic groups of Latin America. The above was the definitive beginning to become aware of Western-Greco-Roman decolonization, recognizing the identity and culture of our peoples.
This document has suffered ignorance and forgetfulness, censored by one of the attendees present, who being sent as a special observer guest, Bishop Sergio Pignedoli , his comments taken to Rome, were nefarious, who "scandalized", commented: "It has been a celebration made without following the canons established by the Church. "
We present these brief comments in view of the celebration of the "50 Years Medellín 1968", emphasizing the contribution that the missionary bishops made in that meeting, towards the construction of a poor Church, of the poor, with the poor , with all the evangelical sense that Pope Francis presents and challenges us today.
Those who read the documents of Medellin can well recognize the influence of Melgar's document, in its worrying diagnosis, and suggestions for the new Evangelization starting from the "seeds of the Word" present in Latin America.
They ask me, for the photographic memory. If there was and well collected by the professional camera of the official photographer of Celam; Brother José Arnaiz, Marianist. I do not know of any publication that has been made, I suppose because of the pressure, condemnation and censorship that was present at those moments.
* Roman Catholic Presbyter .
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