Pope Francis welcomes all the presidents of the world with warmth and fraternity, beyond the morals of the  person and the politics that they carry out. He always denounced corruption with extreme harshness with which he gained many reprisals.  Now, when he meets with those opponents in the moral field, he embraces them, he transmits esteem, but like a good politician, he gives the coup of grace: he gives the presidents from Latin America the Conclusive Document of Aparecida.

What is this work about?  What is Aparecida?  Aparecida is the title with which Brazil venerates the Virgin Mary as its national  patroness. In Sao Paulo she stands in the national shrine of that country, with the same name. It was here that the Fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops  took place.  Its Concluding Document covers the core of the Latin American people, its virtues, its needs, its poverty and misery, the human dignity, the preferential option for the poor and the excluded, the migrants, dependent addicts, marriage and  family, the culture of life, the care of the environment; and it calls every Christian to give living witness of the redemptive and renewing  presence of Jesus as a missionary disciple.

Dr. Susan Nuín Núñez is the executive secretary of the Department of Communication and Press of the Latin American Bishops Council – CELAM.  Her mission is to communicate, contact, and to promote dialogue among the different departments and with national and international institutions, for the purpose to dignify the Latin American people with the grace of Jesus and the human commitment to the Latin American people in the most effective way possible. That is why she has met with the leaders of the different secretariats of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, for the purpose of advancing communicational projects in common in the field of the rights of migrants, exploitation of labor, the right of not having to emigrate, the extractive industries, the rights of native peoples, protection of the environment, the improvement of communications to enhance the results, inter-religious dialogue and ecumenism.

Dr. Nuín Núñez, who is a member of the focolare movement, which is known for its profound contribution to communion within the Church and beyond, as leaders of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue and  social commitment in the world, was in Washington for one day. One of her activities on June 17th, was to present a conference about Aparecida and its impact on the Church of the United State, a subject of vital importance for the Church in the country, given that in approximately ten years, half of the Catholics of the United States will be Hispanics.  The conference was held in the building of the Archdiocese of Washington in Silver Spring.  It was presented in Spanish and there was simultaneous English interpretation.

The presenter emphasized  that “among our people of the north and south we should no longer speak about dependency or independence, but rather of inter-dependence”, as overcoming the two terms mentioned  above.  She stressed the need for unity between the Church of the United States and the one represented by CELAM, advocating the creation of projects, programs and joint works between the two groups, where the north as well as the south will discover that they need each other to project themselves fully.

Dr. Nuín Núñez participated in the team of Communication of Aparecida, of which Conclusive Document Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was president and whose title is: “Missionary Disciples of Jesus Christ, so that our people will have life in Him. ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’” Dr. Nuín Núñez accentuated that it is not about “disciples and missionaries’, but rather of “missionary disciples”, emphasizing  that you cannot be disciples of the Lord without being missionaries, since one reality includes the other, expressing the importance of the missionary spirit of the baptized, whose passion for the mission of taking Jesus to the world should be the core for the Latin American people and for every Christian.

After the conference there was dialogue in groups about the implications of this reality in the United States, then there was a panel composed by three Hispanic leaders from the area of Washington:  Father José Eugenio Hoyos, Director of the Hispanic Apostolate and Director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the Diocese of Arlington,Virginia; Father Mario Dorsonville, Director of the Spanish Catholic Center of Washington and vice-president of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington; and Father Roberto Cortés, pastor of Our Lady Queen of the Americas and Director of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal of Washington.

Just like the main speaker, with their enthusiasm, the three panelists aroused  the desire to learn about the mystery of Aparecida in depth in the participants and to live it fully in the United States. During the encounter an unpublished song titled “Missionary Disciples” was presented.  It was composed by song-writer, Manuel Sanchez, who sang it along with Antonio Avelar, which provided a framework of profound communion among  the participants.  The conference concluded with a prayer and with Dr. Susana Nuín Núñez’ expression of gratitude to Father Juan Molina, Trinitarian, Director for secretariat for the Church in Latin America for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who arranged the presenter’s trip and who has developed mutual projects of the Church of the United States with CELAM.

Talks between CELAM and USCCB

The following day the speaker, along with Father Raúl Islas Olvera, treasurer and Director of Publications for CELAM, met with directors of the different areas that represent a common interest between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Latin American Bishops Council. After participating in many meetings at the headquarters of the USCCB,  both departed to Denver to participate in the Catholic Media Conference, where intense encounters with national leaders continued for the purpose of promoting and enhancing the joint work of communications to the maximum between the Church of Latin America and  that of the United States.

The main meeting was with Helen Osman, secretary of Communications of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Tony Spence, Director and Editor in Chief of Catholic News Service, and Enrico Donzelli, Director of Customer and Client Relations of USCCB. There were advanced conversations to implement joint publications of CELAM and USCCB in Spanish.

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On the NET:

The Concluding Document of Aparecida in English can be downloaded free at: www.usccb.org/latinamerica/english/resources.shtml.

Photos of the conference and the different meetings of CELAM in the United States in June 2013 can be seen at: