WASHINGTON (March 19, 1997) — Formal announcement by Pope John Paul II of a special meeting of the Bishops of North and South America for late 1997 is expected soon, and one United States Bishop is hailing a recently published book as a "must read" for those who will attend.
Bishop Raymundo J. Peņa of Brownsville (TX), who chairs the Bishops' Committee on the Church in Latin America, told his committee this week that the publication of Sharing Faith Across the Hemisphere in February "could not have come at a more opportune time."
"There is a rich -- sometimes painful -- history that unites the Church in North America with our sister Church in Central and South America," Bishop Peņa said. "For the Synod for America, anticipated for late this year, to be fruitful, it will be very important for everyone involved to understand fully the relationship that has developed over the last 500 years between North and South. This book, which the Committee authorized just two years ago, is a resource which all participants should take advantage of as they prepare for their meeting with the Pope."
Pope John Paul II has called for special regional synods of the world's Bishops in anticipation of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 which he declared in his 1994 message Tertio Millennio Adveniente (Toward the Third Millennium). While dates have not been formally announced by the Vatican, it is expected that the special synod will take place in Rome from November 16 to December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.
Bishop Peņa reviewed the published book with his Committee this week during a regularly scheduled meeting in Washington. Additionally, the Committee evaluated grant proposals submitted by various dioceses, religious orders, seminaries, and parishes throughout Latin America. The Committee on the Church in Latin America, and its Washington-based Secretariat, oversee an annual collection in Catholic parishes in the United States. This year, more than 150 proposals were submitted requesting more that $3 million. Since 1985, the collection has raised more than $72 million for the support of the Church in Central and South America.