atin America reforms
FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT E second general assembly of the Latin-American Bishops in Medellin, Colombia, has put forward a revolutionary programme of Church repewal and social justice to better the living conditions of millions of the Continent's desperately poor.
The bishops, after two weeks Of hard-hitting, and at limes heated, debate, have Fome out with an attack on oth extremes of left wing nd right agitation. The final ocutnent is, however, not ilutcd, but packed full of ractical action. Justice and Peace: They, ndemned violence, both in ts armed form of rural and rban guerrillas, and in the 'passive" form of violation of uman rights, such as the nhuman conditions prevailing
n many countries. They urgently called for goyrnments and private leaders
o .increase production and i.istribute wealth, both in ndustrial and agricultural actiities, and full Church support or these moves. Family and Population: They urged responsible parenthood following the encyclical Humanae Vitae but expressed opposition to government birth control programmes. They also expressed Church support for all efforts to educate the masses on parental rights and duties and to increase production by the better use of human and natural resources.
Education: 'Institutional' education (schools, colleges, universities), must reform attitudes, programmes and methods to lafuse a spirit of solider' ity and social justice, and a drive for development in the students' "pastoral" education —the administration, of the sacraments, preaching, counselling, catechetical instruction— must enlighten the traditional faith and religious spirit.
Training of Priests: Corrective measures to modernise teaching, to involve seminary living in community problems, and changes from large seminaries to smaller "family-like" groups were suggested.
Lay Movements: They cited the need to promote integretioh of lay persons into pastoral work to provide good priest-moderators, to charge the laity with development projects and the financial support of parishes. They also urged the creation of a Latin American Lay Council.
Collegiality: Church renewal, the bishops said, is bound to internal communication and dialogue regarding diocesan and parish work. Therefore the priest must count on lay advice and the bishop on priest councils. National bishops' conferences and the Latin American Bishops' Council must continue their co-ordination.
Youth: The bishops urged the establishment of pastoral programmes and institutions concerned with the care of youth, stressing cultural, social and economic change and the future responsibilities of youth in leadership and development. They urged the need to understand tensions created by youths protesting against society and the need to preserve vital institutions and traditions.
They said recognition must be given to the aims of youth —an outlook for the future, a truly fraternal society. a search for real evangelical values, and justice. Poverty: The Church must fully identify with the poor, as a prophetic, missionary force in a new world responding to the demands of the Gospel. Clergy and laity must be witnesses for simplicity and solidarity in. daily living. They urged a reform of the stipend system to separate it from the sacraments.
Social Communications: The bishops also urged the use of more efficient, modern means of social communication as an instrument of the Church in spreading the Gospel and pro
rooting development and in helping to foster free public opinion within the Church. The reports presented by the working committees were approved by the plenary assembly by a wide margin. They make up the bulk of the bishops' final declaration.
The summary of some 4,000 words did not meet with the approval of several bishops, who said it gave only a "lukewarm" account of the deliberations. It lost further ground when Cardinal Samore, president of the Pontifical Commission, for Latin America, announced that the Holy See was allowing the immediate publication of all the committee reports and the final declaration.
The cardinal added, however, that the Holy See reserved the right to consider these documents as subject to later revision.
The summary included a condemnation of radical nationalism, inefficient bureaucracy and political maladministration, as well of excessive government spending in areas unrelated to the needs and development of the people. It ended with a call for "all men of good faith to collaborate in truth, justice, love and liberty" for a new Latin America.
The texts retain, for the Most part, the frank and foresighted outlook of the basic working document, the seven lectures that expanded on the issues, and the final recommendations of the working committees.
A final statement strongly condemned the armaments race, the flight of capital from their countries and certain business practices of national and foreign companies in Latin America.
It said: "Various foreign companies, and some national ones 25 well, often evade the established taxes with subterfuges .. . Sometimes they send abroad their earnings and dividends without investing to contribute to the development of our nations."