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Family, vocations, catechesis, main themes at upcoming CELAM conference

.- Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, the former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said this week the upcoming 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council will be addressing some of the main challenges facing the region, including the family and the attacks against it, priestly vocations and the need for renewed catechesis.

In an interview with CNA, Cardinal Medina Estevez said the family “is very threatened in Latin America by the existence of divorce laws, by cultural customs, in conflict with Christian morality, such as cohabitation outside marriage” and the legalization of such unions, “including between persons of the same sex.”

The cardinal also underscored the importance of the family in promoting priestly vocations. “If the family structure is not sound, it is much more difficult for priestly vocations to come about.”

Referring to the issues to be discussed at the 5th CELAM conference, Cardinal Medina said, “There is a need for strong emphasis on catechesis, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, either in its abbreviated form or in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which are both high quality pastoral tools.”

Everything that has to do with faith should be a priority for the bishops, he went on, as faith is what changes attitudes and peoples’ situations.  External pressures can only bring about change in the short term, but faith leads to a conversion of the heart, Cardinal Medina said.

He also pointed to the socio-economic challenges in the region, such as poor education, illiteracy and poverty.

Excesses in the Liturgy

Cardinal Medina stressed the importance of the liturgy in the life of the Church and emphasized that the Apostolic See “is responsible for definitively evaluating whether or not proposed adaptations are suitable.”  He decried the lack of uniformity in the celebration of the Mass throughout the Catholic world, pointing to such abuses as the substitution of the readings from the Lectionary with texts from other sources.

Benedict XVI in Brazil

The cardinal said Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Brazil would primarily be pastoral, as the Pope is “fulfilling his task by coming to visit and confirm in the faith first of all his brother bishops of each diocese, and secondly, of the Christian faithful who see in the successor of Peter a guarantor of the unity of the faith.”  “Undoubtedly the Pope has a special closeness to Latin America and this is evident in the fact that he speaks Spanish very well, he understands it perfectly,” Cardinal Medina said.

Asked about the future of the Church in the region, the Chilean cardinal said his hopes lie in parish life, in the new ecclesial movements and in diocesan life.  “This is more important, more permanent, more relevant than things at the international level, which exist and without a doubt are of great use, but upon which, in my view, the future of the Christian faith does not depend.”

Cardinal Medina called on the faithful to pray for the success of the CELAM conference, that the participating bishops might have the strength and courage to speak clearly about the issues facing the region.


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