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 twenty-five of ECCLESIA IN AMERICA, the final one in this Apostolic Exhortation.
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 Twenty-five of ECCLESIA IN AMERICA: CONCLUSION
WITH HOPE AND GRATITUDE
"I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28: 20
75. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Trusting in this promise of the Lord, the pilgrim Church in America
prepares enthusiastically to meet the challenges of today's world and those that will come in the future. In the Gospel, the
Good News of the Resurrection of the Lord is accompanied by the invitation to fear not (cf. Mt 28:5, 10). The Church in
America wishes to walk in hope, as the Synod Fathers declared: “With serene trust in the Lord of history, the Church
prepares to cross the threshold of the Third Millennium freed from prejudice, hesitation, selfishness, fear or doubt, and
convinced of the fundamental and primary service which she must provide as a testimony to her fidelity to God and to the men
and women of the continent”. (290)
Furthermore, the Church in America feels especially impelled to walk in faith, responding with gratitude to the love of Jesus,
“the merciful love of God made flesh (cf. Jn 3:16)”. (291) The celebration of the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium can
be the right moment for the People of God in America to renew “their thanks for the great gift of faith”, (292) which they first
received five centuries ago. The year 1492, beyond its historical and political meaning, was the great year of grace when
America welcomed the faith: a faith which proclaims the supreme gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God two thousand
years ago, and which we will solemnly commemorate in the Great Jubilee now so close.
This twofold sense of hope and gratitude must accompany every pastoral action of the Church on the continent, permeating
with the spirit of the Jubilee the various initiatives in the dioceses, parishes, religious communities, ecclesial movements, and
the activities which will be organized at both regional and continental levels. (293)
Prayer to Jesus Christ for the families of America
76. I therefore invite all the Catholics of America to take an active part in the evangelizing initiatives which the Holy Spirit is
stirring in every part of this immense continent, so full of resources and hopes for the future. In a special way, I invite Catholic
families to be “domestic Churches”, (294) in which the Christian faith is lived and passed on to the young as a treasure, and
where all pray together. If they live up to the ideal which God places before them, Catholic homes will be true centers of
In concluding this Apostolic Exhortation, in which I have taken up the proposals of the Synod Fathers, I gladly welcome their
suggestion to compose a prayer for the families of America. (295) I invite individuals, communities and ecclesial groups,
wherever two or more gather in the Lord's name, to strengthen through prayer the spiritual bond between all American
Catholics. Let everyone join in the prayer of the Successor of Peter, invoking Christ who is “the way of conversion,
communion and solidarity in America”:
We thank You, Lord Jesus,
because the Gospel of the Father's love,
with which You came to save the world,
has been proclaimed far and wide in America
as a gift of the Holy Spirit
that fills us with gladness.
We thank You for the gift of Your Life,
which You have given us by loving us to the end:
Your Life makes us children of God,
brothers and sisters to each other.
Increase, O Lord, our faith and our love for You,
present in all the tabernacles of the continent.
Grant us to be faithful witnesses
to your Resurrection
for the younger generation of Americans,
so that, in knowing You, they may follow You
and find in you their peace and joy.
Only then will they know that they
are brothers and sisters
of all God's children scattered
throughout the world.
You Who, in becoming man,
chose to belong to a human family,
teach families the virtues which filled with light
the family home of Nazareth.
May families always be united,
as You and the Father are one,
and may they be living witnesses
to love, justice and solidarity;
make them schools of respect,
forgiveness and mutual help,
so that the world may believe;
help them to be the source of vocations
to the priesthood and the consecrated life,
and all the other forms
of firm Christian commitment.
Protect Your Church and the Successor of Peter,
to whom You, Good Shepherd, have entrusted
the task of feeding Your flock.
Grant that the Church in America may flourish
and grow richer in the fruits of holiness.
Teach us to love Your Mother, Mary,
as You loved her.
Give us strength to proclaim
Your word with courage
in the work of the new evangelization,
so that the world may know new hope.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America,
pray for us!
Given at Mexico City, January 22, in the year 1999, the twenty-first of my Pontificate.