Wednesday, September 26, 2018


The life of the Church moves in the field of salvation, in the struggle to welcome, encourage and accompany those who are vulnerable and needy, for this reason, when we approach the Medellín document, the meaning of that second general conference of the Latin American Episcopate, held in Medellin between August 26 and September 6, 1968, taking the words of the conclusive document, we discovered a Church that "focuses its attention on the man of this continent, who lives in a decisive moment of its historical process. In this way she has not deviated but has turned towards man, aware that in order to know God it is necessary to know man (introduction 1).
This approach generates within the Christian and religious community a serious discernment of what in the words of the Dominican friar theologian Yves Congar would go to the bottom of society, go to the historical moment and go into 'in the signs of the times', that is to say , recognize what moves men, identify their main difficulties and anxieties and in the light of the Gospel take sides, so that a living presence can be generated that of hope and light for the road.
This sounds very simple and simple, from the theoretical point of view, but when an approach to religious sources is made within the continent, it is discovered that in the last century (XX century) when going to the field, to the pastoral and missionary work, It was not uncommon, that the peasants, indigenous and Afro-descendants spoke using the term: "to me, they made me acristian," to us, "they accredit us," which in our language refers to the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism. This expression is still very strong and complex, because when you think about what it was, it was and continues to be that: "acristianar", discovering a problem, which Cardinal Henry deLubac someday called the problem of faith and the religion.
While it is true they are linked together, faith and religion have become a phenomenon that houses two ways of approaching God, the first is strictly linked to the commitment that the Christian assumes when approaching God, the commitment that it leads to the rupture with the social and human paradigms and that allows him to make life the words of Jesus, while religion demands the express and faithful fulfillment of the norms that are established as salvific realities. To explain a little more the meaning of what this means, one can resort to two beautiful examples the first related to faith and the second linked to the role of religion and its low credibility within a world that is tired of superficialities and images inappropriate of God and his project.
The first case, related to the one is taken from a religious Benedictine who tells the story of a humble woman who is on her way to the river to wash her clothes, there she meets a small scorpio, and it is known that the smaller the animal, more powerful is its poison. This humble woman to see that the little monster is sinking into the water, frantically approaches to save him from an imminent death, however, the fierce animal, as a form of defense gives him a twinge in the hand, she fear again and again approaching to save it, to which the animal responds by stinging again and again. The story tells that a man when he sees the deed of the woman and in the midst of laughter shouts at him! woman, no matter how hard you try to save him, she will always sting you!
The second example can be taken from the book Introduction to Christianity by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who in his introduction states that theology has lost its strength, that the life of the Christian has become a fallacy capable of deceiving man and immersing him in a world of pain, anguish and desolation, in the obligatory nature of a belief without faith. The story is located in a small town where a circus was performing its function, one of those days the circus started to catch fire, the director in the middle of terror for the event asks the clown, who was ready for the show to ask for help in the village. This character leaves his room and arrives at the central square, there he starts to scream loudly, quickly, he burns, the circus burns! The passers-by and neighbors look desolate, until one of them laughs and says: "What a good strategy, what a good way to call us to his function", but no matter how much he asked for help nobody listened to him, and unfortunately not only the circus was burned, but the flames came to the village and ended with him. A hard tale, but real, no one of those who call themselves Christians and comply with the precepts and rites make their knowledge of religion, a knowledge of procedures and rules that distance the believer from the gospel and salvific truth.
From the above Medellín 68, it becomes the passage of religion, faith, self-consciousness, the mission of the Church in full fidelity with the course outlined by the Second Vatican Council, and the Church faithful to its vocation to serve and commune preferentially with the poor, which gives a new consciousness and way of life, standing out
As a Kairos, a new understanding of faith, and assuming its task from the poor for its liberation.

In the documents the content is presented with a direct and simple, clear and prophetic style. The following features that underlie and characterize the spirit of all the documents can be highlighted:
A location in the historical context of the Continent.
The situation of misery and marginalization that characterizes the Continent, a product of injustice and exploitation, seriously compromises the peace of the continent due to "an unjust situation that promotes tensions".
In these situations the Church can not remain indifferent.
Therefore denounces "the capitalist system and the temptation of the Marxist system" because both systems undermine the dignity of the human person.
It also denounces an oppressive education that is oriented to the "maintenance of the social and prevailing structures so that to its transformation".
The Church is committed to the defense of the rights of the poor of the Continent.
The Church feels the need to be in solidarity with the poor of the continent, that defense and solidarity with the poor requires fostering the leading role of the oppressed in search of their liberation.
In any case, it is also necessary in the social transformation to respect the positive aspects of the autochthonous values ​​and to know how to discern with respect to popular religiosity. Liberation must respect "its own cultural, socio-political and economic characteristics".
This self-understanding of the mission of the Church does not confuse temporal progress and the Kingdom of Christ, but overcomes any dichotomy or dualism in Christianity.
The communitarian dimension of the faith and of the ecclesial dimension is underlined, therefore, the importance of the Basic Ecclesial Communities is emphasized. As also in the role of the laity in the mission of the Church.
The main emphasis in the Conclusions of Medellín is noted by two themes as the main axes for Evangelization: that of the poor and that of liberation. The Latin American Church calls itself "the church of the poor". This is what Pope John XXIII said when he said: "Before the underdeveloped countries, the Church is presented as it is and wants to be: the Church of all and particularly the Church of the poor."
There is no doubt that the great contribution of Medellín has been to rescue the relevance of the Gospel in the situation of the Continent, together with assuming the oppressed reality of the Continent in the light of the Gospel commitment. Fidelity to the Christian identity and historical relevance of the Christian suppose a unitary vision of the history of salvation.
In Medellín 68 has been open space with many entries, to reach all / as. If this was not clear in the Council for Latin America, due to the weight of the European Church, it was the opportunity for the Latin American Church reaffirmed in its identity and acquired its majority, to consolidate its embodied contribution in a town that as sons and daughters of God they long for their dignity fixed in hope and in the longings of liberation. It has been, is and continues to be the Popular Reading of the Bible, the basis for becoming aware and acquiring the tools of a liberation, from the Christian world. There were anthropological, philosophical, historical, and social contributions of reality that shaped the consolidation of today's well-known "liberation theology" addressed and presented by both Gustavo Gutiérrez and Rubén Alves.
It is from Medellín 68 that the Basic Ecclesial Communities are generated, promoted and disseminated, also called "local Churches" formed by members of depressed, marginalized, even rural sectors, where the traditional ecclesial structure does not reach.
  1. The identity of our Church on the level of the Latin American continent.
I would like to refer to the contribution that these Conclusions have had in our Latin American Church. As we read and reflect on the legacy of the Medellin documents, we can discover through them the cry of the majority of our bishops and pastors, as they became aware that something is going wrong in the evangelization of our peoples. We can give an account and reason for this, through the opening speech that one of our most precious Colombian bishops; Mons. Gerardo Valencia Cano, spoke at the opening of the First Continental Meeting of Missions in Latin America, held in April of l968 a few months before the event in Medellín, in the following terms:
"From my first contacts with the indigenous cultures of the Vaupés 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. I have always longed for the day when we could face together a study and in-depth reflection of our common problems. Today can be the beginning of that new day. " day in which we could face together a study and in-depth reflection of our common problems. Today can be the beginning of that new day. "
2) Recognition of the human being, as a subject and not as an object, committed to the promotion of the human being and of the peoples towards the values ​​of justice, peace, education and family.
It was urgent to speak, with an awareness of the Latin American Church, without having to lose our identity, culture and customs. It was necessary to recognize our Church as the age of majority, giving her support and recognition of her full autonomy, without breaking the catholicity. Hence the importance of pointing out the role of CELAM, as a visible organ of our Latin American Church, first of all, and being able to express and recognize that, if before the Church was in Latin America, the reproduction of language and rites of the European Church It was the time that as a Latin American Church we could manifest ourselves according to our worldview, rites and culture. Inculturate the message of Jesus Christ, in our midst, without losing the Catholic identity. It was and is the time to be able to have a theology of its own, which had its basis in social reality, of our peoples, where the human being was the subject and not the object. Here we can not ignore the support of the Holy See, through Pope Paul VI.
When Medellín 68 breaks into our continent, you could not be outside the social movement that was lived. What makes the Church assume its social, and prophetic work of a Church of the poor towards the poor, in the transforming and liberating commitment, as it was called: "The Church in the current transformation of Latin America in the light of the Council "
While it is true, we have not been able to move forward, as we would have liked, since the paradigm of clericalism, sacramentalization and foreign devotions has not yet been broken, which makes our people live a religion of magic and fear . We are very far from exercising our majority within the Church, in an autonomous way, duly constituted far from Roman influences. We recognize the efforts, struggles and suffering so far outlined and highlighted by Pope Francis.
But we are still far away from an inclusive Church that accepts the new poor, like immigrants, displaced people, the LGTBO Community, married priests, women and women presbyters.
It is up to us, to take advantage of the fact that Medellín 1968 is taken up "here and now" and with greater reason, before the hurricane storm, unleashed, at this time because of the barbarism of pedophilia by some members of the clergy of the Church . Situation that, although, was seen coming, could appear at any time, this has caught us all unprepared, not without hitting and affecting the universal Church, demoralizing more than one.
As a Church of the Latin American people of God, we hope that, despite this serious problem, it will not become a sophism of distraction and will overlook the values ​​of justice, peace, education and family, enunciated in Medellín 68.
In the Conclusions of Medellín 68, we perceive and feel the Spirit of a dynamic Church that is not apart from its members but "inside" with them, in equal conditions, in equity of justice, inclusive, without overwhelming and depressing verticality . In the attitude of a transformative change in which he discovers, through the method: "see, judge and act", enlightened by the Word and faith, the human being as "theological place". So we find it reviewed by the bishops in the Introduction of the "Conclusions" where they say:
"We can not stop interpreting this gigantic effort for a rapid transformation and development as an evident sign of the Spirit that leads the history of men and of peoples towards their vocation. We can not fail to discover in this will ... the traces of the image of God in man ... (...) We can not, in fact ... stop sensing the presence of God, who wants to save the whole man, soul and body. (...) Just as ... the first People, experienced the salvific presence of God when it liberated him from the oppression of Egypt ..., so we, the new People of God, can not help but feel his way that saves, when it is given ' the true development '... "(numbers 4, 5 and 6).
* Catholic Presbyter
BIBLIOGRAPHY: . II Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate Medellín, Colombia 1968 : Clodovis Boof. The historical Originality of Medellin.

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