Archbishop Ivan Marin-Lopez of Popayan, Colombia, offered the most remarkable intervention at the American Synod today when he suggested that bishops and priests should renounce a portion of their own worldly possessions in a gesture demonstrating their solidarity with the poor as the Church prepares for the third millennium. His suggestion was met with silence from the body of bishops participating in the Synod.
A more popular theme for the Synod was the discussion of the "new evangelization." Father John Corriveau, minister general of the Capuchin friars, speaking from long experience in missionary work in Latin America, suggested that many Protestant sects have been successful there in part because they give lay people a keen sense of responsibility for the work of evangelization. He suggested that Catholics should be equally emphatic about the need to involve lay people in evangelization. That same theme was echoed by Bishop Manuel Eguiguren of Salapia, Bolivia, who recalled that Vatican II had announced "the age of the laity," and suggested that the same theme-- "the Church of the laity"-- would be appropriate for the third millennium. He added his own note of controversy, however, by stressing that the Church could not enter the celebration of the Jubilee without "confessing our own sins against the equality of women."
Cardinal William Baum, the American prelate who now heads the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, called for an examination of conscience in the fullest sense of the term. "Have we been timid or uncertain in our teaching activity?" he asked. Cardinal Baum emphasized the need to foster a real sense of sin, and of the need for the Sacrament of Penance-- which, he pointed out, furnishes a path to deeper conversion. He insisted that without clear preaching and teaching on sin and on the "last things" it would be unrealistic to expect any changes in unjust social structures.
Archbishop Jorge Medina Estevez, the Chilean who now heads the Congregation for Divine Worship, used his address to respond to the comments of another bishop, who had asked for a more liberal approach to Catholics who are divorced and remarried, and now seek to be admitted to the sacraments. "There is no sense of wishing communion, when one continues in a way of life that is contrary to the law of God, such as concubinage and adultery," he said.