.- Today, the Vatican released a letter from Pope Benedict XVI, commending the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), which celebrates its 50th anniversary, for “invigorating…the new evangelization” called for by John Paul II. The letter, addressed to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile and president of the council, comes on the occasion of its 30th plenary assembly, being held in Lima, Peru from May 17th to the 20th.
In the letter, made public yesterday, the Pope noted CELAM’s founding 50 years ago by Pope Pius XII "with the aim of supporting the pastoral work of bishops and, at the same time, of responding to some of the grave problems of the Church in Latin America."
Over the last half century, the Holy Father continued, CELAM has helped "to face up to the challenges of the Latin American subcontinent with harmonized efforts and ecclesial spirit, ... and to invigorate what over the years has become known as the 'new evangelization'."
Pope Benedict noted that the council has given particular support to "the promotion of vocations, in order that they be many and holy," and wrote that, looking to the future, CELAM "must continue to make an important contribution and provide strong support in this field, teaching how to discover the signs of the call and to accompany the response."
The Pope called on members of the council to reflect especially on the pastoral care of the family, which, is being “beset by grave challenges represented by the various ideologies and customs that undermine the very foundations of Christian marriage and family.”
“Particular emphasis”, he said, “must be laid on family catechesis and on the promotion of a positive and correct view of marriage and conjugal morality, thus contributing to the formation of truly Christian families that stand out for their practice of Gospel values.”
“A Christian family, a true 'domestic church', will also be the seedbed for numerous holy vocations."
The Holy Father concluded his message with the suggestion that, "in aiming to promote collaboration both among bishops and of bishops with the Holy See, thus encouraging the growth of 'affectus collegialis,' CELAM should foster a spirit of communion, of mutual charity in the internal life of the Church.”
“In the exercise of pastoral care,” he said, “that unity must shine forth in charity between pastors, between them and people consecrated to the religious life, and between people who live their consecration within the particular charism of their community.”
“All this should be done while bearing in mind the model of our Savior, Who came into the world not be served but to serve."