Indigenous Peoples. That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.
We are all familiar with the history of indigenous peoples, those people who already live in the land when immigrants arrive—the Native Americans in this country. In their encounters with other peoples, they often lost their land, their culture, and through war and disease, their very lives. Today many suffer terribly from poverty and its accompanying problems of violence and addiction. Native peoples in Latin America continue to be threatened as others push into their territory looking for cheap land.
When he visited Bolivia in 2015, Pope Francis admitted that members of the Church were party to these injustices. He repeated words of Pope St. John Paul II, saying, “I kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters.” He also reminded people that there were “thousands of priests and bishops who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the power of the Cross and who defended the rights of indigenous peoples.”
We are called to follow their example today by showing respect to indigenous peoples and defending their rights.
Pope Francis continued: “To our brothers and sisters in the Latin American indigenous movement, allow me to express my deep affection and appreciation of their efforts to bring peoples and cultures together where each group preserves its own identity by building together a plurality which does not threaten but rather reinforces unity.”
Unity amid diversity—this is what the Church strives to achieve. It is the work of the Spirit which enriches the Church and society with the gifts of native peoples. We ask the Holy Spirit to continue this great work.
What are some ways that different cultures have made the Church a richer community?
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 To each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
Latin America and the Caribbean. That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.
The words “mission to the continent” in this intention refer to a commitment the Latin American bishops, including the future Pope Francis, made at a meeting in Aparecida, Brazil in 2007. Receiving that document, Pope Benedict XVI said: “it was a cause of joy for me to know of the desire to launch a ‘Continental Mission’ which the Bishops’ Conferences and each Diocese are called to examine and carry out.”
The document itself said: “Everyone in the Church is called to be disciples and missionaries....We summon all our brothers and sisters so that united, with enthusiasm, we may carry out the Great Continental Mission. It will be a new Pentecost that impels us to go, in a special way, in search of the fallen away Catholics, and of those who know little or nothing about Jesus Christ, so that we may joyfully form the community of love of God our Father.”
Latin America is the most Catholic continent, yet it has some of the worst poverty and corruption. Conversion is needed. In his opening address to the meeting, Pope Benedict said: “This being a continent of baptized Christians, it is time to overcome the notable absence—in the political sphere, in the world of the media and in the universities—of the voices and initiatives of Catholic leaders with strong personalities and generous dedication, who are coherent in their ethical and religious convictions.” He reminded “the laity of their responsibility and their mission to bring the light of the Gospel into public life, into culture, economics and politics.”
We join our Latin American brothers and sisters this month in not only praying for this great continental mission, but also striving to be missionary disciples ourselves so that Christian values may permeate our own society.
What are some ways that “the light of the Gospel” can be brought “into public life, into culture, economics and politics” without being rejected as the imposition of religion on non-believers?
1 Peter 2: 1-12 Keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.