Bishop Noberto Strotmann Hoppe of Chosica (Peru), in statements to CNA, gives the faithful a glimpse into some of the problems occurring within the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM) and what has led the bishops to make procedural changes to ensure that the 5th General Conference in Aparecida would run smoother.
The Peruvian bishop said, “It’s nothing new if I tell you that evidently there have been problems,” not so much in Aparecida as in previous meetings. “One thing that is very clear is that the preparation for events such as these needs to change and should be streamlined, but the methodology of the assembly itself should be profoundly changed and streamlined so that the 250 bishops gathered together can work with great efficiency and effectiveness,” he said.
Bishop Strotmman noted that despite different temperaments among the bishops in their small groups, discussions have been cordial, “even though there have been many differences of opinions.”
Asked what his own suggestions might be, Bishop Strotmann called attention to “serious deficiencies in the area of preparation for the conference, both in social as well as theological questions. With all due respect to those involved, there were no bright lights,” he said in reference to some of the preparatory documents of the 5th General Conference.
He said more information was needed in order to determine what the main problems are that people are facing the region. Regarding the lack of priestly and religious vocations, Bishop Strotmann said, “What should be hope for the Church is actually a tremendous headache from an institutional perspective. I have witnessed many bishops here saying, ‘No, vocations are on the rise.’ They don’t say the same thing about religious vocations because evidently that would be a lie as the numbers are very clear.”
Bishop Strotmann was cautious about the idea of a “Great Continental Mission,” saying such an initiative must be well-planned and must provide appropriate preparatory materials that indicate beforehand what the main problems are in the culture.
Asked about the final document of the Aparecida conference, the bishop said it was “too late to make serious changes. No conference of this type can address problems, whether at the international level or in Latin American society, nor from a theological perspective as well, in such a short period of time.”
“I have read the Holy Father’s book, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Nobody addresses the subject of discipleship like he does, in a short chapter of 10-15 pages that is exegetically and theologically very fascinating. Meanwhile here we are juxtaposing quotes and one asks, where the connection is,” he said.