The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Michael Czerny, spoke on April 21 at the inauguration of the "III Latin American Congress on Catholic Social Teaching" at CELAM headquarter in Bogota, Colombia.
This initiative, which takes place from 21 to 23 April, involves Bishops, pastoral agents and experts in the social pastoral care of the region. The president of CELAM, Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos explained that the objective of this Congress is to collect the contributions of Pope Francis’ social magisterium, particularly the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti and the Post-Synodal Exhortation Querida Amazonia.
For his part, Cardinal Czerny devoted his presentation to the need to update and renew the Social Doctrine of the Church. During his speech, he stressed the importance for the whole Catholic Church of the V CELAM General Conference in Aparecida, since the Aparecida document "is the fundamental reference of the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium". Thus, he pointed out that the work carried out by the Latin American Episcopal Council is "a great richness for the whole Church" because many of the challenges posed by Aparecida " still remain valid", including globalization, migration, the resurgence of racism, the intensification of social violence, the precariousness of housing, the increasing of poverty and the care of creation.
In addition, the Prefect recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic, as a magnifying glass, "has shown these criticisms more clearly, revealing other concomitant aspects, such as the health emergency, the educational one, but also the need for a political leadership capable of guiding the common choices towards the good of all".
Then, Cardinal Czerny addressed several relevant questions related to the current synodal process to which the entire People of God is summoned, such as the commitment to ensure that the whole pastoral care is presented in a missionary key, the inculturation and protection of the common home in the face of the serious ecological crisis.
Recalling Pope Francis appeals, the Cardinal also remarked that "it is necessary to overcome the obstacle of clericalism", therefore synodality "can be a decisive resource to discern the way to incarnate the mission of the Church: it is not a question of inventing something new, but of reforming existing structures, so that they may truly be at the service of the missionary power of each sector of ordinary pastoral care".
Before, on 20 April, Cardinal Michael Czerny visited the Diocese of Soacha in Colombia, where he could listen to some testimonies from this rural periphery. Among the most relevant pastoral challenges there are displacement due to conflict, extreme poverty, pollution from mining, illegal armed groups and pastoral care with Afro-Colombian families, as well as with migrants from neighbouring countries.
El Card @jesuitczerny visita la Diócesis de Soacha en Colombia. Algunos de los problemas más relevantes en esta periferia rural son el desplazamiento por conflictos, la extrema pobreza y la exclusión social de familias afrocolombianas así como de #migrantes. @CelamWeb pic.twitter.com/CpmcB8QywW— Desarollo Humano Integral (@vaticanIHD_ES) April 21, 2023
The final document of the Congress highlighted that the presence of Cardinal Michael Czerny introduced "with clear and profound words" the "necessary dialogue between the Social Doctrine of the Church and Synodality."
"Among other things, he encouraged us to continue with hope in the work of renewal of the Church, understanding that the social practice of the Gospel cannot be a consequence but part of its authentic essence, since it is situated at the heart of the Gospel message," the final text of the Congress stated.
Finally, Cardinal Czerny "strongly pointed out that the solution to clericalism does not lie in perpetuating a vertical and authoritarian model of government, but in promoting and forming the laity in an authentic and genuine spirit of belonging and ecclesial participation. Clericalism cannot be countered if, at the same time, a responsible and trustworthy laity is not allowed to emerge".