LIMA, Peru, MARCH 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Latin America faces a difficult situation with the increasing presence of ideologies, but there is hope since the continent still maintains a strong Christian identity, said the archbishop of Lima.
Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne said this Monday at the opening of the congress “Diagnosis and Prospects for New Evangelization in Latin America,” being held at the Passionist Fathers’ retreat house in Lima.
The congress was organized as a preparation for the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, to be held May 13-31 in Aparecida, Brazil. The congress will be opened by Benedict XVI.
The Lima meeting of cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, lay intellectuals and leaders of pastoral and social activities of Latin America will end Thursday.
In his opening words, Cardinal Cipriani pointed out that relativism and utilitarianism have already appeared in Latin America, though not with the aggressiveness witnessed in Europe and economically developed countries.
The cardinal said that on the continent there are “ideologies that exclude any moral principle that is valid and binding in itself.”
He called the spread of these ideologies “a real campaign that promotes a constant attack against life, from its conception until its natural death; against the institution of marriage of a man and a woman for life; against the family as the fundamental cell of society; against woman in the name of ideological feminism.”
Cardinal Cipriani added that these ideas are “extremely harmful” and are “ignorant of the natural law.”
Still, Latin America presents a hopeful picture when one contemplates its profound Christian identity rooted in its customs and expressions of popular piety, the cardinal contended.
The archbishop of Lima said that the presence of the Church in the area of education is a positive fact, though it has certainly been weakened.
However, he said, “the Church’s credibility in its function of teacher of the faith and support for the people still generates trust, especially among the neediest.”
The 63-year-old cardinal said he was convinced that one of the great challenges of the Church in Latin America is very much related to considerably improving the formation and education in Latin America.
Cardinal Cipriani added: “Let us leave behind inferiority complexes and human respect in the face of relativist, materialist ideologies because of the desire to be ‘in fashion.’
“The planetary crisis, which Latin America does not escape, has much to do with the orientation of the contents of the media, not only the written and spoken press but, especially, with the modern techniques spread through the Internet, TV, and increasingly, the multi-task cell phone.”
The cardinal said that this situation is an urgent challenge which calls primarily for the participation of a well-educated laity.
Cardinal Cipriani stated that the “unmistakable sign of this New Evangelization is the profound Marian piety, and the principal weapon continues to be the recitation of the holy rosary.”