VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2010 ( In their 15th meeting, the Special Assembly for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops says there are many signs of hope in the Americas, though also points of concern.

The synod group held the meeting on Nov. 16 and 17, led by Archbishop Nikola Eterović, secretary-general of the synod of bishops.

The meeting focused on the theme "New evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith," which was one of the key themes from the 1999 postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in America."

This is also the theme for the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled for October 2012.

A communiqué released after the meeting points to the "many signs of hope" in America, "but also some causes for concern."

The synod fathers recognized "with satisfaction" the positive economic development of certain countries. They called, however, for "the more equal distribution of wealth and natural resources."

The synod assembly hailed "growing ecological awareness" and "efforts toward greater continental integration."

Points of work

Among the elements of concern, the synod fathers pointed out the ongoing situation of Haiti, struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake of last January.

"[T]he concrete solidarity shown by foreign governments and ecclesial organizations would bring better fruits if the local bodies were able to make more organic use of the aid received," the participants observed about the island.

Among other areas of concern were migration and drug and weapons trafficking.

As well, they affirmed: "Particular attention must be given to the promotion of a series of laws that run counter to ethical norms -- laws on abortion, euthanasia, and marriage between persons of the same sex -- and the diffusion of a spirit that does not conform with Christian values in the fields of education and of communications."

The synod group also recognized regular elections in various countries, though they lamented "ideological attempts to alter constitutional and legislative norms, provoking internal tensions even with local Churches. ... In this context the tendency is to ignore the Catholic Church, excluding her as a partner in social dialogue despite the high credibility she enjoys among the people."

Finally, they saw as a cause for consolation an increase in vocations to the priesthood in various countries.

"One particularly important aspect," the communiqué affirmed, "is the awareness that all the Church on the continent must be in a state of mission."

The next meeting of the Special Assembly for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will be held Oct. 27-28, 2011.