.1_4 ATIN AMERICA is alive to the "aggiornamento" or
updating that is the constant concern of the Second Vatican Council. That is the significance of the story told to Rome reporters by a bishop from the impoverished northeast of Brazil, where the Church has taken the position that a well-built Christian trade union is now more vital than an impressive edifice for worship.
Bishop Eugenio de Araujo Sales, Apostolic Administrator of the Natal archdiocese, outlined a programme which included the development of farmers' trade unions, the teaching of reading, writing and other elementary subjects by radio, and various social welfare projects.
He said the programme has been so successful that it is being copied throughout Brazil.
When prolonged droughts brought famine to his people, he said the first consideration was to provide emergency food just to keep them alive. But the spirit of the Gospels made it apparent that in such desperation it was necessary to look for lasting remedies. The Church was discovered to be a part of the whole community. In fact, Bishop Sales related, it was true to speak of his diocese as one large family, in the sense of the early Christians.
And in the solidarity of family living. in which all Catholics from bishop lp priests and people shared the local impoverishment, there was full, open discussion. he said. Additionally, there was developed a feeling of personal sacrifice for the good of the Christian family. he asserted.
Bishop Sales listed some of the concrete achievements in Natal. In five years more than 1,300 radio schools have been established, with a total of 25.400 students, who are learning basic knowledge and practical techniques for home arid farm. On the way are 500 mere radio schools.
Rural trade unions, begun in 1961, now have more than 32,000 members, with nearly 300 trained leaders who are aggressive in their work of colonization, education, medical and legal aid. Eight credit co-ops have enlisted 1,760 families.
Because movement of families to better home sites is necessary in the Natal region, the Church's programme also includes about 100 migration agents who assist with travel and rehabilitation. Maternity centres. social centres, youth and sports clubs are also a part of this "aggiornamento" in Latin America.