LATIN AMERICA: ACTION NEEDED
NEARLY 60 cardinals, archbishops and bishops from Latin America were addressed by the Pope last weekend. They assembled in Rome for the third Latin American Episcopal Council, an organization for the study of the common religious problems of the Laths American nations for the purpose of co-ordinating their activities in the apostolate.
Almost a third of the entire Catholic world — 16 million Catholics — live in Latin America,
"This is a continent of faith," the Pope said, " rich in the thriving growth of its hierarchy, its seminaries, and its Catholic Action movement, not to mention the great Marian and Eucharistic demonstrations that have taken place there. The lay apostolate in Latin America is promising indeed".
Of course, there were certain worries and anxieties. The clergy, for example, were still numerically inadequate for the needs of the a postolate.
The Holy Father laid down accurate and precise regulations to be followed in pastoral activity. He called for a clear-eyed view of things as they are, in their favourable and unfavourable aspects. On this basis, he said, a plan for action should be drawn up which would coordinate the efforts of the individual organisations, while respecting their individuality.
Lastly, there must be efforts to get down to concrete application of the plans mapped out, asking for help from all and neglecting no one's contribution.
For a more effective application of these plans. the Holy Father called on all those present to draw a clear distinction between essentials and accidentals in each individual problem. Not to be blinded by the present, but rather to keep a keen eye on future needs.
Quick action to solve the problems of the Church in Latin America was urged by Cardinal Mimmi, at the opening session. The Cardinal is Secretary of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
Trends of thought move quickly today ", he said, "and once positions are lost, it is difficult to win them back again ".
He stressed that special attention should be given to the problem of religious instruction, calling it "the basic problem which gives present cause for concern". He continued:
" Religious ignorance is the great danger .which threatens the Christian world, Untiring efforts must be made so that everyone may have a thorough religious instruction. The clergy, men and women religious, members of Catholic associations and, in brief, the whole great army of the Church Militant must be rallied and compelled to work in the immense field of the Christian apostolate ".
German Catholics have helped to finance the rebuilding of what is said to be the northern-most Catholic church, that of St. Michael at Hammerfest, Norway, destroyed by the Nazis in 1945. The church, above the Arctic Circle, has been dedicated by Bishop Wember, Vicar Apostolic of Northern Norway.