Final Statement: Meeting of the Bishops of America

Monday, February 17 2003

Once again, at this annual Meeting of the Catholic Bishops of America, we examined the tragic split between the Gospel and culture as experienced here in the Americas, and we did so in the context of the impact that globalization is having on our local cultures.

Emboldened by Jesus’ command to “launch out into the deep”, and reassured by his frequent injunction to “Fear not!” – a constant summons also of Pope John Paul II – we shared our goals and differing mission strategies in the face of present-day globalization. We assessed the opportunities and obstacles that globalization presents in terms of proclaiming the Gospel in our diverse American cultures.

The concerns of the faithful were uppermost in our minds as we deliberated and these, in turn, shaped much of our discussions. Their concerns confirmed our awareness of the fact that globalization is a reality that is both within the Church as well as in our various American cultures. We also experienced differing perceptions as to the way globalization is viewed in our three organizations – the Latin American Bishops’ Council, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

We recognize that globalization is a mixed blessing, one that harbors opportunities as well as dangers, offering benefits to some and perils to others, and thus it can and does create unacceptable inequalities.

  1. The youth of today reflect this “light-and-shadow” side of globalization, and they are increasingly challenging us to go beyond a fragmented view of life. Their experience of interconnectedness reveals a hunger and thirst for peace, justice and compassion, and a search for deeper meaning in life. This experience, however, is fragile and fraught with much loneliness and a sense of vulnerability.
  2. We also recognize that the electronic media are one of the pivotal vehicles of today’s social communication and one of the driving forces of globalization. The media can either serve positively to enhance education and learning, or negatively impact and subvert family and societal values in the Americas. The young and the innocent are especially vulnerable to the negative influence of the media. It is the hope of so many young people today that peace prevail in the world, and the media have recently contributed to a more globalized awareness of this widespread hunger for peace and justice.
  3. Those who are being marginalized as a result of globalization were also uppermost in our thoughts and deliberations, as were some of the unjust economic policies operative in the globalization process. The acknowledged benefits that accrue to some segments of our society must be weighed against the inequalities that globalization creates in others. Among the causes that presently impoverish and marginalize some segments of our society, however, care must be taken to distinguish those factors that stem directly from globalization and those that are the result of domestic, non-global factors.

In the light of the above, we, the Catholic Bishops of the Americas, commit ourselves to and hold ourselves accountable for the following pastoral strategies:

  • To conduct a vigorous and in-depth critical analysis of globalization in order to better understand and educate the faithful as to the benefits and negative fallout of globalization;
  • To recall and reclaim our spiritual heritage, with its rich mystical tradition and expressions of the past, so that the youth of today who seem hungry and eager for this might become the new evangelizers in our contemporary society;
  • To emphasize, above all else, the compassionate face of Christ, as demonstrated in the Good Samaritan, in order to counter the cruel, impersonal and sometimes merciless onrush of globalization;
  • In dialogue with shareholders, corporate leaders and policymakers, to do our utmost to instill in the globalization process much more inclusion and participation, and a greater concern for the common good;
  • To acknowledge and promote the sacred character that is inherent and deeply embedded in every culture, in order to inculturate the faith at a deeper level in our various American cultures;
  • To celebrate the popular piety of the faithful that springs from a genuine encounter with the Gospel and that affirms it in so many diverse ways;
  • To foster a pastoral sensitivity among the emerging lay leadership in the Church today so that they, who are now increasingly implicated in the process of globalization, may better humanize and evangelize that very process;
  • And in addition to the above, we renew and pledge our solidarity with Pope John Paul II and the multitude of people on every continent who are currently crying out and demonstrating for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East.


Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada / Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Monseigneur Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V.
Évêque de Saint-Jean-Longueuil

Most Reverend Brendan O’Brien
Archbishop of Saint John’s, Newfoundland

Monseigneur André Gaumond
Archevêque de Sherbrooke, Québec

Most Reverend Anthony Tonnos
Bishop of Hamilton, Ontario

Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, P.H.
Secrétaire général / General Secretary

Mr. Joe Gunn
Affaires sociales / Director of Social Affairs

Père Richard Côté, O.M.I.
Théologie / Director of Theology

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Bishop of Belleville

Most Reverend Edmond Carmody
Bishop of Corpus Christi

Most Reverend William B. Friend
Bishop of Shreveport

Most Reverend James P. Keleher
Archbishop of Kansas City

Most Reverend William S. Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane

Msgr. William Faye, P.H.
General Secretary

Father Arthur L. Kennedy
Executive Director
Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

Delegación Latinoamericana

Monseñor Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal
Obispo de Zipaquirá, Colombia

Cardenal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa
Arzobispo de Santiago de Chile

Monseñor Roberto O. Gonzáles Nieves, O.F.M.
Arzobispo de San Juan, Puerto Rico

Monseñor Carlos Aguiar Retes
Obispo de Texcoco, México

Monseñor Marcelo Pinto Carvalheira
Arzobispo de Paraíba, Brasil

Cardenal Pedro Rubiano Saénz
Arzobispo de Bogotá, Colombia

Cardenal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino
Arzobispo de la Habana, Cuba

Padre Mario de França Miranda, S.J.
Professor de Teología, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Monseñor Ricardo Cuéllar Romo
Secretario Adjunto, México

Padre Carlos Quintana Puente
Tesorero General, Puerto Rico