III Continental Congress of Latin American and Caribbean Theology:
“we are challenged by the cry of the poor and of the Earth”
From August 30 to September 2 in El Salvador, land of martyrs, especially of Don Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the III Continental Latinamerican and Caribbean Encounter of Theology was celebrated, on the occasion of 50th anniversary of the gathering of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops, that ensured a great change of the Roman Catholic Church towards the poor and their liberation. It was the baptism of the Church into this new phase of history. More than 600 persons from all over the Continent and the exterior attended, which shows the general interest in that event and its consequences. We offer here part of the final document that offers a very good summary of the event, which was promoted by the Red Amerindia of the Central American University of San Salvador: L. Boff.
Message to the Caribbean and Latin American Peoples
1. Young men and women theologians, and some brothers and sisters from Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches, were present.
2. In those days we had relearned how to understand our faith, and to live it, starting from the principles taught us by Monsignor Oscar Romero, the murdered priest Ignacio Ellacuria, the martyred Sister Ita Ford, the tortured people’s lawyer Marianela Garcia-Villas, and many other brothers and sisters who became our teachers in following Jesus of Nazareth. Those men and women martyrs show us that we must live the faith, paying attention and giving importance to the socio-political and cultural reality, seen through the eyes of the impoverished.
3. In Medellin, the Church inserted herself into the processes of socio-political transformation occurring around the continent. We will not rest as long as we cannot have an economy at the service of the common good and of the caring of the Earth, the Water and all of Nature, to which we all belong, as her sons and daughters.
4. Around the whole continent, what in Medellin was called “institutionalized violence” continues to challenge us. The dominant society still today neither respects nor values either the indigenous communities of different ethnic nations, or their ancestral cultures.
5. We join in the struggles of the women who, in every country, are victims of diverse types of violence. We recognize the contribution of the Black theologies during these 50 years, the contributions of the Original Nations and, in particular, the proposal made by the Feminist Theology, in contemplating a Church founded in fact as a discipleship of equals. We assumed the plight of the victims of sexual abuse committed against children, teenagers, against women and against our brothers and sisters of the LGBT communities. It is urgent that we change the patriarchal and clerical structure of our Churches.
6. We know about the massacres of young people, especially the poor and, in some countries, the mostly Black victims of the worsening conditions of life and urban violence. Some of our young theologians are joining these struggles in creative forms.
7. The conquests of new social and political processes belong to the people and deserve to be defended, starting from the bases.
8. We denounced the responsibility of the North American empire in continuing its policy of destabilizing governments that do not bend to its colonialist imperial demands.
9. We will continue struggling against the xenophobic, racist and inhumane policies of the President of the United States, practiced against migrants, especially our poor brothers and sisters who attempt to cross the border between the United States and Mexico.
10. The Medellin Conference proposed a prophetic Church at the service of the liberation of our peoples, starting from the preferential option for the poor. We want to commit ourselves today to the project of a more synodical and courageous Church, in permanent dialogue with humanity, especially with the social movements organized to change the world.
11. We recognize as a sign of the Spirit the proposal of “Good Living”, that we received from the original Nations of our Continent. We understand that “good living” is a path of a society of communion that prefers the common good over the individual, and takes seriously the rights of our sister, Mother Earth, and of Life.
The Zapatistas of Southern Mexico taught us: We are an army of dreamers. For that reason, we are invincible. As Saint Oscar Romero de las Americas said: “let’s continue doing what we can do, because what is important is that we do”. In that firm and unbreakable hope, the force of the Spirit that is expressed in the strength of the poor, illuminates and guides all of us though the paths of the Kingdom.
Note: Everyone present signed a text in support to Pope Francis who is lately enduring opposition and resistance from conservative groups that do not want change to the ways the Christian faith is lived in these present, troubled, days.