Bishops' pilgrimage to Marian shrine seeks to foster unity

Our Lady of Guadalupe Our Lady of Guadalupe

Numerous clergy and lay people from across the world will gather together at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to discuss common concerns, and to help forge stronger bonds between continents.

"We go as pilgrims to pray with existence, as Pope Francis says. Pray to Our Lady with existence, Our Lady who is the alliance of life between people and who listens to her pilgrims," said Prof. Guzman Carriquiry in a Nov. 11 interview with CNA.

Carriquiry is the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and is in charge of the organization of the meetings that will be taking place during the gathering.

The pilgrimage, entitled "Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization," will begin with a video message from Pope Francis on Nov. 16th and will last until Nov. 19th, allowing time for both prayer and discussion of current issues within the Americas.

The pilgrimage is co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, and will include an addresss by Carl Anderson, the group's Supreme Knight.

Anderson said that "at Guadalupe, Mary's message was one of love and reconciliation, which can be seen echoed in Pope Francis' efforts to reach out to the poor and marginalized, to the fallen-away and those who have never really followed Christ." 

"Pope Francis has focused on the New Evangelization with a model that is clearly related to the American model embodied by Our Lady of Guadalupe -- a model based on loving outreach, on charity and on concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of all."

Reflecting on previous meetings under different pontiffs, Carriquiry explained that they hope to continue past initiatives, giving "more links, communion" and "collaboration between the churches in Latin America, the United States" and Canada.

Being in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the three-day encounter is particularly significant, noted Carriquiry, because it is "the place of meeting, the place of significance, of the unity of people, of all the American continent, the Star of first New Evangelization, the Empress of America."

The secretary also explained that an intercontinental vision between the Americas can be difficult to comprehend due to the fact that they are often distinguished by their separate continents.

"The faith embodied in the different realities of the Latin America" he highlighted, "by a process of enculturation" are "diversified," but thanks to the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, "faith is in all our land."

"Our nationalities" are also lived in diverse ways, he added, particularly in the development of "cultural, social, economic," and "political" areas.

"What seems fundamental to me is to have a coming together with the diversity to bring them the biggest unity possible," Carriquiry expressed.

"We think that the biggest communion between the churches of the United States and Canada and the churches of Latin America will be carried out through solidarity of people and nationalities of the whole continent."

In order for this to happen, he noted, the participation of all, the bishops specifically, is "very important."

Among the three hundred officials invited who will be attending the meetings will be the new cardinals recently named by Pope Francis, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and close to 80 others from Canada to Argentina.

Also attending the meetings will be Cardinals Sean P. O'Malley from Boston and Oscar Maradiaga from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who are both members of the Council of Eight Cardinals created by the Pope earlier this year to assist in reform and governance of the Church.

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Themes that will be reflected on include the collaboration and communion of local churches within all of America, culture and society, and the reference of Mary as Mother of the Church in the context of the fiftieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, will lead the discussions and reflections, which will also include the next synod topic, marriage and the family.

"We hope that in this link with collaboration," Carriquiry expressed, the participants "can grow, that they can face more openly" all of the challenges present "in the Latin American continent."

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