Before meeting with the first Latin American Pope on Thursday, Colombian Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gomez said the South American Church will help the universal Church with its rich history of evangelization.
“There is no doubt that the richness of the evangelizing experience of the Latin American Church is going to benefit the universal Church,” Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gomez told CNA on April 24.
Cardinal Salazar is the vice president of the Episcopal Council of Latin America and the Caribbean, or CELAM, and he met with the Pope on April 25 alongside the council’s five other directors to greet him and offer their support.
The Colombian cardinal said that it was “about time” that Latin America “donated” a Pope to the Church.
“This is for us a huge importance and a reason for profound joy,” he commented.
Cardinal Salazar believes that the Church in South America needs to show “a clear example” of how the Church’s evangelization efforts should look.
CELAM has representatives from 22 bishops’ conferences in Latin America and the Caribbean, and its leaders meet every year in Rome to visit the Pope, as well as the different Vatican departments.
On April 24 they visited the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and its members, including the commission’s secretary, Guzmán Carriquiry.
“Our annual visit to the Holy See is an opportunity to dialogue with dicasteries (departments) and be able to help them or to receive their petition to promote a certain subject,” said Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico.
“It is a pleasure to be able to meet the Pope,” Archbishop Aguiar commented, “and we want to tell him that he can count on us.”
Pope Francis, he said, is not only “a man of wisdom” but also “a decisive man who is capable of governing and knows clearly what the Church needs.”
“I am certain he will carry out the reform that the cardinals proposed in the general congregations,” Archbishop Aguiar said.
In his view, the fact that there is a Latin American Pope means “a great responsibility” for the Church on the continent.
“It’s true that it’s a great joy but that it also means commitment,” said Archbishop Aguiar.
“It’s not a joy for a short moment,” he qualified, “but rather a joy that should move our conscience to realize that if God has set his eyes on a son of Latin America and on the Church that makes a pilgrimage there, he also wants that those that make up this Church give a specific and important contribution to the life of the Church, in general.”
Cardinal Salazar, Archbishop Aguiar and three other bishops met with Pope Francis on April 25 at 11:45 in the morning.
Marta Jimenez Ibanez contributed to this report.