Message from the Bishops of the Church in America
The Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Canada, the United States and CELAM, with the participation of His Eminence, Cardinal Lucas Moriera Neves, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, joined by our brother bishops of Cuba, and the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Santo Domingo, have celebrated the XXVII Meeting of the Inter-American Bishops.
From La Habana, we fraternally salute our brother bishops of the Continent, and our dear communities, united to the Holy Father, whose visit to Cuba we commemorate. Joined to him, we would like to offer our collaboration for creating the best conditions in Cuba, in order for Cuba to open more to the world and for the world to continue to be open to Cuba.
In communion with the bishops and Christian people of Cuba, we have come to reaffirm our faith in Jesus Christ and the devotion to Our Lady of Charity, in whose sanctuary of Cobre we had the opportunity of celebrating the Eucharist for the intentions of the Holy Father and for the people of our Continent.
We are very grateful to God for the grace of meeting in Cuba and sharing with the local parishes the example of their perseverance in faith and the witness of their Christian life.
The central theme of our reflection has been the apostolic exhortation: "Ecclesia in America". We discussed ways to apply the Pontifical Document in our communities and for achieving ways that all men and women of America can understand how the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us the possibilities of reconciliation and solidarity on the Continent.
We wish to respond generously to our Lord Jesus Christ by proclaiming the gospel to all our people. We feel especially called to promote reconciliation among the sons and daughters of the same Father, overcoming conflicts and tensions that have created ruptures in our people; opening ourselves to a fraternal welcome to migrant who experience difficulties in many countries of the Continent, and looking for effective ways being in solidarity with the poorest people. We want to assume, with concrete signs, the spiritual and material needs of the brothers and sisters who are recent victims of great sufferings, like what happens to the people of Honduras and Columbia, and join our efforts to the development of Haiti and other regions of great need. The spirit of solidarity urges us to give special attention to the question of external debt, and the grave consequences of the economic embargo of Cuba that we have repeatedly denounced. Helped by specialists from the whole Continent, we want the celebration of the Great Jubilee to be an opportunity for finding solutions to these difficult problems.
In the same spirit of communion that marked the whole Pontifical Document, we urge missionary animation in America, especially starting with the Missionary Congress that will be held in Paranα, Argentina, next September.
Very dear brothers and sisters, in profound communion with Pope John Paul II, whose apostolic zeal we admire, we wish to share with you the strong experience of episcopal fraternity that we lived in La Habana and ask you that, under the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Evangelizer of America, we join our lives to the service of Jesus Christ and the new evangelization of our people, with the desire of achieving a united, reconciled America, the Christian sign of hope for the world.
La Habana, February 17
Ash Wednesday, 1999