Ecclesia in America at 15, Carl Anderson reflects

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Hard to believe that 15 years have passed since John Paul's post synodal exhortation Ecclesia in America. It is a remarkable document in my opinion, even though it touches on many very serious problems that we need to face from Alaska to Argentina. We hear nothing of this document these days. Every so often we hear a reference to it when a hierarch wants to say something intelligent about the situation at hand in America. Perhaps we could go back to EA with fresh eyes. What is clear is to work on ways for greater communion and solidarity with the Christians across the boarders.

We need to continue to answer the thematic of the "Encounter with the living Jesus Christ: The way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America." We can't set tight with only what John Paul gave us to think on, and to work on. The strength of the Church in America rests not merely on our own solution to the matters at hand but also to our persistent call to holiness.

To honor the publication's anniversary events have been scheduled in Rome from 9-12 December. Among the presentations/dialogue we have:

  • the event in Guadalupe as the origin of evangelization in the New World
  • the post-Synodal Exhortation: prophecy, teaching and commitment
  • the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America with the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, star of the new evangelization and mother of the civilization of love
  • the meaning of the Year of Faith
  • Scenarios and proposals for communion and co-operation between Churches of the Americas and for solidarity among their peoples.
There will be Masses celebrated, rosaries said and other devotions prayed.

Happy to see that Carl Anderson, supreme knights of the Knights of Columbus was chosen as one the presenters for today's conference. He gives gravitas coupled with reasonableness. You may want to listen to Carl Anderson's interview with Vatican Radio it is here.

English: My photograph of an image of the tilm...
Mr Anderson's remarks:

It is indeed an honor for the Knights of Columbus to have the opportunity to help organize this conference on Ecclesia in America - together with the Pontifical Commission for Latin America - under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

As a lay organization that has been in the United States, Canada, Mexico - and other parts of Latin America - for more than a century, we are particularly aligned with the vision presented in Ecclesia in America, and are working with the Church in our hemisphere on the project of the New Evangelization.

In re-reading Ecclesia in America 15 years after the close of the Synod for America held here in Rome in November and December 1997, three things stand out to me as particularly important to our discussion here and at the conference next week.

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FirstEcclesia in America makes clear that "America" - broadly defined as the entire American continent from Alaska to Argentina - is a key area for the work of the New Evangelization. America remains today a Christian continent. Christianity is interwoven in the history of each of its countries, and the faith in America is stronger and more vibrant than in most other places. It is fertile ground for the New Evangelization: for an even greater spiritual awakening among the people of our continent.

Second, Ecclesia in America, reminds us that the laity has an indispensible role to play in that New Evangelization, without which "the renewal of the Church in America will not be possible." (44)

Third, Our Lady of Guadalupe is described as key to our understanding of the New Evangelization in America. In the words of Ecclesia in America; "Holy Mary of Guadalupe is invoked as 'Patroness of all America and Star of the first and new evangelization,'" and as "a perfectly inculturated evangelization." (11)

It is Our Lady of Guadalupe, then, that ties together the threads of Ecclesia in America, and indeed the history of Christianity itself in that hemisphere.

When Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, the American continent was host to one of the greatest recorded clashes of civilizations. For years following that clash, the work of the Spanish missionaries had born little fruit. But all of that changed, when Our Lady appeared to a humble layman.

Juan Diego was not a powerful noble, he was an ordinary, common man. But by cooperating with Our Lady of Guadalupe and with his bishop, millions converted and the seeds of a Christian hemisphere were sown.+I believe that the legacy of Our Lady of Guadalupe is not limited either by time or by geography, nor is the model of New Evangelization that she and Juan Diego provide us. Indeed as an organization with 300,000 members in the Philippines, the Knights have seen her effect and the importance of the laity's work for evangelization far beyond America's shores.

In next week's conference, we will discuss the New Evangelization of which Ecclesia in America speaks. We will be mindful that the continent's first evangelization, and its new evangelization have the same foundation: Our Lady of Guadalupe - leading us to the message of her son. We will work together on these issues alongside priests, bishops and lay people from throughout the American continent and beyond, and we hope that what we learn may be of use not only to the Church in America, but to the universal Church as well.

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Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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