There Can Be No Discrimination In The Church, Pope Says

Addresses Evangelization of Ethnic Groups With Ecuadorian Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2002 ( proclamation of the Gospel to different ethnic groups in society does not foster their isolation but their integration into the one human family, John Paul II said.

The Pontiff addressed the challenge of evangelizing a country rich in ethnic groups and cultures, such as Ecuador, whose Bishops just ended their “Ad Limina” visit, made every five years to the Holy See.

In response to the greetings of Archbishop Vicente Cisneros of Cuenca, president of the Episcopal Conference, the Holy Father insisted on the need to keep “in mind the scope of the Indian world, with its peculiarities, but without creating separations, let discriminations alone.”

According to some sources, 52% of the population of Ecuador, slightly over 13 million inhabitants, is composed of Indians, mostly Quechuas; 40% of Mestizos; and the remaining 8% of primarily Spanish and African descendants. 95% of the population is Catholic.

The Holy Father made it clear that “the Church, firmly rooted in faith in Christ, only Savior of the whole human race, regards the multiplicity of forms, stemming from different sensibilities and traditions, as a great wealth, in which the one evangelical and ecclesial message may be expressed.”

“Thus respect for each culture is highlighted, and at the same time, its capacity to be transformed and purified is able to be a very profound form in which any person or group can encounter the one God, fully and definitively revealed in Christ,” the Pope added.

“This fundamental union in one same faith will become a stimulus, so that the different languages and sensibilities will find ways of religious and liturgical expression that highlight profound communion with the universal Church,” the Holy Father clarified.

John Paul II said that what must be carefully avoided is that there be no “´strangers or outsiders” in Christian communities, but fellow citizens of the saints and family members of God,´” as St. Paul says in his Letter to the Ephesians.

According to the Holy Father, to try “exclusively to keep intact all traditional components of a human group” implies two serious dangers.

The first is to compromise “the authentic proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel, which is also the cultivator of the different cultures and the promoter of new civilizations.”

The second is to favor the isolation of these groups “with respect to other communities and, above all, with respect to the great family of the People of God extended throughout the world.”

The profound vision the Pope wished to emphasize was that “any pastoral plan must have as its final and imperative goal the holiness of every Christian, who must not be content with a mediocre life, lived according to a minimalist ethic and a superficial religiosity.”

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