Opening of Latin American Ecclesial Assembly

Homily of the President of CELAM, Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos, during the Opening Mass of This Ecclesial Event

Latin American Ecclesial Assembly
Opening Mass of the Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America, Nov 21. 2021 © CELAM

On initiating this Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean, “I ask God to open our heart to let ourselves be guided in a spirit of listening, synodality and ecclesial unity, and to discover what He wills to say to us as People of God on the way,” said Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos.

On November 21, 2021, the Solemnity of Christ the King and at the feet of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Church of Latin America and the Caribbean gathered to open the Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean, underway until November 28.

During the Eucharist, presided over by Monsignor Cabrejos, President of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), the Archbishop said that the participants in the Assembly  — more than one thousand between those present in Mexico City and those taking part virtually — were there to “thank God for this new experience of living, feeling and participating in the Church,” reported in a note the AND-CELAM, the information system of this ecclesial organization.

Spirit of Listening, Synodality, and Ecclesial Unity

In his homily, the Prelate said that the Ecclesial Assembly is taking place after “a long path followed together, listening to all, feeling how lovely it is to be a member of Christ’s Mystical Body, protagonists and co-responsible for evangelization as missionary disciples.” And he prayed to God “to open our heart to let ourselves be guided in a spirit of listening, synodality and ecclesial unity, and to discover what He wants to say to us as People of God on the way.”

Appealing to do the Will of God, he said that “true grandeur lies in letting oneself by illumined by the Light of Truth, discovering God’s action in history, adhering to Jesus Christ’s plan, and keeping truth as our supreme rule of behavior.” The Prelate compared this Assembly with the Medellin Conference, which described “the ‘creative reception’ of Vatican Council II in a context marked by poverty and exclusion.”

He also perceived this Ecclesial Assembly as a moment “to revive Aparecida,” which affirmed the Conciliar renewal seeking to contribute to a ‘second reception’ of Vatican II in the new context in which we live.”

An Assembly of the People of God

 Monsignor Cabrejos said the Assembly was historic, “as, instead of holding the 6th General Conference of the Bishops, Pope Francis suggested this Ecclesial Assembly, made up of representatives of all the People of God.” We are witnessing the passing “of an Assembly where only the Bishops took part, to a fully Ecclesial Assembly,” he stressed.

He also pointed out the broad participation in this event and said that in the Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean, “we come together in diversity of ministries and charisms.” Along with this, “it opens a new synodal organism in the Continental realm, which places episcopal collegiality at the heart of ecclesial synodality, expression of the bond of the Bishop with the People of God in their local Church, and the conception of the universal Church as a ‘Church of Local Churches,’ presided over in unity by the Bishop of the Church of Rome, with Peter and under Peter.”

New Pentecost

The Archbishop considers it a new Pentecost, in which “Our Mother, Mary of Tepeyac is also present, who represents all the titles, supports and sustains the life and identity of our Latin American and Caribbean peoples. “ He invoked “Her faithful and powerful intercession, so that She may show us Christ’s face and gaze in this stage of our face-to-face and virtual meeting.

In addition, he also asked Mary of Guadalupe “to point out to us the way that God desires for His Church in our region,” and docility “to assume a process of permanent conversion, in communion with Vatican Council II and Pope Francis, on the way to the Synod on Synodality, and what the pastoral exigencies imply towards the Jubilee of the Gudalupan event (2031) and that of the Redemption (2033).” He offered to Her the path followed since Aparecida, which, he said recalling Pope Francis’ words, “still has much to offer.”

Christ Continues to Be Crucified in the Vulnerable

 Expressing his willingness to accompany this Kairos, he pointed out that he desires “in the difficult unity in diversity, to respond and to accompany all the People of God at a profoundly complex and difficult time, stressing that it not be forgotten that “Christ continues to be crucified” in the vulnerable.

In the light of the Gospel of the day, he lamented the break in communion and fraternity, present “in inequity, in widespread violence, in the false testimonies of leaders that abandon the sense of service of their responsibilities, in the unprecedented crisis of our common home, where the Lord’s favorites are the ones most affected.” together with this, he felt questioned by the pain of women, “who have suffered abuses or systematic exclusion,” also for migrants, who are often rejected.

Finally, CELAM’s President exhorted the Assembly that opened today” to the gift of listening, that which leads us to come out of our reduced individual positions, and has us approach brothers and sisters to seek God in common and in communion.” He prayed that Saint Juan Diego’s example might be followed, “to open our hearts to interculturality, without fears or doubts.”

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester