BOGOTA, Colombia, SEPT. 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A national meeting of indigenous priests, religious and catechists in Colombia drew to a close in Bogota last Thursday. The meeting aimed to provide those present with a further understanding of the pastoral care of the indigenous people within the Catholic Church.
The gathering was organized by the Commission for Missionary Animation of the Colombian Episcopal Conference’s Pastoral Center for the Evangelization of the Faith, and coincided with the centenary of St. Pius X’s Encyclical, “Lacrimabili Statu”, which also dealt with the evangelization of the indigenous.
Several topics discussed during the meeting dealt with the challenges of preaching the Gospel, and addresses concerning Pius X’s encyclical and how best to implement it in the pastoral care of the indigenous people of Colombia.
For the occasion, Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to Archbishop Jesús Ruben Salazar Gómez of Bogota, president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, in which he notes that St. Pius X’s Encyclical, “in continuity with Benedict XIV’s Encyclical ‘Inmensa Pastorum’, highlighted the need to work more diligently for the evangelization of indigenous people, and for the constant promotion of their dignity and progress”.
The Pope also described the current situation as “ripe so that – with right intention and configured to Jesus Christ – who is the Way, the Truth and the Life for all humankind – pastors and faithful may experience a growing desire to protect the dignity and rights of indigenous peoples, while these, in their turn, may feel a greater desire to do their duty in accordance with their ancestral traditions.
Concluding his message to the participants of the meeting, the Holy Father prayed that sacredness of life be protected in the indigenous community, while calling them to “to love one another as brothers.”
“May no one for any reason manipulate indigenous peoples, and may they not be attracted by harmful ideologies,” the Holy Father’s statement read.