DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     April 12, 1999     vol. 10, no. 71

THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

To print out entire text of Today's issue,
go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
          The Holy Father concluded the Synod of the Americas, begun in November 1997 and capped with his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America released at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in January this year on the Pope's visit to the Americas. It is the Sovereign Pontiff who has expressed a strong desire to see North, Central and South Americas to be considered "one continent" and he expresses the solidarity, communion and conversion of all nations in the Western Hemisphere in this summation of all that was discussed and decided on between Rome and the Bishops of America at the month-long synod late in 1997. We bring you, over several installments, the entire document since it is pertinent not only to the Bishops and clergy, but to the lay communicants of the Americas. To read the entire document at one time or for footnotes, go to Ecclesia in America. To the right is installment seven of ECCLESIA IN AMERICA.

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America

      From Pope John Paul II to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious, and all the Lay Faithful on the encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: The Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America

Installment Seven of ECCLESIA IN AMERICA: CHAPTER TWO: ENCOUNTERING JESUS CHRIST IN AMERICA TODAY

Growing respect for human rights

    19. Among the positive aspects of America today, we see in civil society a growing support throughout the continent for democratic political systems and the gradual retreat of dictatorial regimes; this has immediate moral implications. The Church looks sympathetically upon this evolution insofar as it favors an ever more marked respect for the rights of each individual, including those accused and condemned, against whom it is never legitimate to resort to modes of detention and investigation — one thinks especially of torture — which are offensive to human dignity. “The rule of law is the necessary condition for establishing true democracy”.(51)

          There can be no rule of law, however, unless citizens and especially leaders are convinced that there is no freedom without truth.(52) In effect, “the grave problems which threaten the dignity of the human person, the family, marriage, education, the economy and working conditions, the quality of life and life itself, raise the question of the rule of law”.(53) The Synod Fathers rightly stressed that “the fundamental rights of the human person are inscribed in human nature itself, they are willed by God and therefore call for universal observance and acceptance. No human authority can infringe upon them by appealing to majority opinion or political consensus, on the pretext of respect for pluralism and democracy. Therefore, the Church must be committed to the task of educating and supporting lay people involved in law-making, government and the administration of justice, so that legislation will always reflect those principles and moral values which are in conformity with a sound anthropology and advance the common good”.(54)

    The phenomenon of globalization

    20. A feature of the contemporary world is the tendency towards globalization, a phenomenon which, although not exclusively American, is more obvious and has greater repercussions in America. It is a process made inevitable by increasing communication between the different parts of the world, leading in practice to overcoming distances, with evident effects in widely different fields.

          The ethical implications can be positive or negative. There is an economic globalization which brings some positive consequences, such as efficiency and increased production and which, with the development of economic links between the different countries, can help to bring greater unity among peoples and make possible a better service to the human family. However, if globalization is ruled merely by the laws of the market applied to suit the powerful, the consequences cannot but be negative. These are, for example, the absolutizing of the economy, unemployment, the reduction and deterioration of public services, the destruction of the environment and natural resources, the growing distance between rich and poor, unfair competition which puts the poor nations in a situation of ever increasing inferiority.(55) While acknowledging the positive values which come with globalization, the Church considers with concern the negative aspects which follow in its wake.

          And what should we say about the cultural globalization produced by the power of the media? Everywhere the media impose new scales of values which are often arbitrary and basically materialistic, in the face of which it is difficult to maintain a lively commitment to the values of the Gospel.

    Growing urbanization

    21. Also on the increase in America is the phenomenon of urbanization. For some time now the continent has been experiencing a constant exodus from the countryside to the city. This is a complex phenomenon already described by my Predecessor Paul VI.(56) There are different reasons for it, but chief among them are poverty and underdevelopment in rural areas, where utilities, transportation, and educational and health services are often inadequate. Moreover, the city, with the allure of entertainment and prosperity often presented in the media, exerts a special attraction for simple people from country areas.

          The frequent lack of planning in this process is a source of many evils. As the Synod Fathers pointed out, “in certain cases, some urban areas are like islands where violence, juvenile delinquency and an air of desperation flourish”.(57) The phenomenon of urbanization therefore presents great challenges for the Church's pastoral action, which must address cultural rootlessness, the loss of family traditions and of people's particular religious traditions. As a result, faith is often weakened because it is deprived of the expressions that helped to keep it alive.

          The evangelization of urban culture is a formidable challenge for the Church. Just as she was able to evangelize rural culture for centuries, the Church is called in the same way today to undertake a methodical and far-reaching urban evangelization through catechesis, the liturgy and the very way in which her pastoral structures are organized.(58)

    NEXT MONDAY: Installment eight - Chapter Two: The burden of external debt


April 12, 1999       volume 10, no. 71
THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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