More formation needed for solidarity in the Americas

Wednesday, November 19 1997

Vatican City (CCCB) — Archbishop Roger Ébacher of Gatineau-Hull, in an intervention at the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for America , proposed the establishment of a forum for the Americas to develop solidarity needed for our time. Archbishop Ébacher told the Synod that the establishment of such a forum would provide the means to discuss both the social and theological dimensions of the social and economic situation, popularize that analysis in our respective countries, as well as develop joint statements on questions facing the peoples of the American continent.

The Archbishop was intervening in response to Numbers 55 and 58 of the Instrumentum Laboris that deal with the Church and solidarity. Archbishop Ébacher noted that to encounter Jesus Christ is “to share in what God is suffering because of humanity’s distress – a divine suffering incarnated in the life, agony, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.” He continued, “We cannot recognize God revealed in Christ if we cannot recognize those in misery around us.” He pointed out that while solidarity must be both global and universal, there is a growing number of free-trade agreements in the Americas. Noting that neo- liberalism is fed by “personal and private interest, with the ultimate result unbridled competition” which he called “the antithesis of solidarity.” This, the Archbishop told the synod, quoting from the Instrumentum Laboris, leads to the continuation of “the distressing situation of misery resulting from sinful structures, which lead to the rich becoming richer and the poor poorer” (No. 63).

Archbishop Ébacher concluded his intervention by saying, “Conversion to solidarity is an invitation to see, hear, think, speak and live differently.” He said that too often in our communities social disorder seems to have little to do with faith, but that the Instrumentum Laboris affirms there is a “need for a more structured program of formation…in creating a greater consciousness of the importance of solidarity” (No. 55). Educating in solidarity, he said, involves knowing the other’s experiences, analyzing the causes of what is happening and then acting in solidarity.