Synod for America : Canada enriched by missionnary experience in Latin America

Monday, November 17 1997
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Vatican City (CCCB) -- Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa, in an intervention at the Synod of Bishops' Special Assembly for America, says Canada's missionary experience in Latin America has been very enriching and significant for the Canadian Church.

Archbishop Gervais said that experience has deepened our understanding of Church, teaching us that "every diocese is called to universal service." In response to a call by Pope John XXIII in 1959, more than 30 of Canada's 75 dioceses entered into agreements with Latin American dioceses to send missionaries.

In his intervention, the Archbishop said this has led Canadian Catholics "to appreciate the missionary dimension of their baptism" and strengthened "personal and community faith." He said the missionaries discovered how the Word of God, in the hands of ordinary people, welded faith and life together.

Archbishop Gervais was intervening on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to Number 40 of the Instrumentum Laboris that deals with examples of intra-ecclesial communion of the Churches in America.

This missionary experience, he continued, has resulted in a renewal of pastoral service in Canada in the areas of sacramental initiation, family catechesis, priestly formation, lay participation and the creation of new ministries and small basic communities. It has also affirmed such human and evangelical values as solidarity, gratitude and hospitality.

Archbishop Gervais said it also strengthened Canadian commitment to social justice as the missionaries became exposed to extreme poverty, oppression and injustice. "Our missionaries became more aware of the responsibilities of industrialized nations, often becoming the voice of the oppressed, drawing attention to the poor and the marginalized," he said.

In concluding his intervention, the Archbishop said because Canadian missionary training may have been lacking at times, mistakes were no doubt made and both sides may have suffered. He went on to thank "our sister Churches in Latin America for giving us the opportunity to serve and learn."

Following his intervention, the Archbishop stated that this missionary experience is another indication of how Canada has received much more from Latin America than it has given.


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