“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works,
but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given
us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
—2 Timothy 1:9, 10, 13
Ecclesia in America: The way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America—Pope John Paul II, Mexico, 1999
Ecclesia in America, subtitled, The way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America, is an exhortation that John Paul II addressed to the “Church in America” [Roman Catholic Church], and lays out a plan for the evangelization of the Americas.
Ever since the publication of Ecclesia in America, Canada’s bishops have actively promoted the document, describing it as a “pastoral road map for the Catholic Church in the Americas” that guides us in living the Gospel in the new millennium…” Ecclesia in America emphasizes the need for a new evangelization…”
The Roman Catholic Plan for Evangelizing the Americas
The plan for Evangelizing the Americas by the Roman Catholic Church will
be the subject of my next posts, and will complete my Real Presence in the
It was unnerving to me to read the evangelization plan for America as I have heard some of these same words spoken by folk that I did not think were
Catholic and my observation is that some of the objectives mentioned in this
“evangelization” plan are already happening.
This post will quote excerpts from the first part of the exhortation to show that the document, Ecclesia in America, is very much connected with the Eucharist which is believed to be the source and summit of the Roman Catholic Church’s life, and the way of globalization of solidarity—unity or agreement.
The remaining posts in the series will concentrate on the end of John Paul II’s Ecclesia America, in which he specifies ways to carry out the evangelization of America. I will be using quotes from the Ecclesia America document regarding use of Media, Culture, Education and Politics to implement the agenda and then show how these directives are already happening.
Two comments before presenting excerpts from the Ecclesia in America text.
The text mentions the pilgrim church but actually is referring to the Roman Catholic Church. The Ecclesia in America is NOT promoting the true gospel
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of possible interest: A History of Catholic America: From Columbus to the 20th Century Written and Edited by E. Phillips Mantz and Rev. Michael J. Roach
Excerpts from Ecclesia in America—The Church in America: On the Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: The Way to Conversion, Communion, and Solidarity in America,
Pope John Paul II, Mexico City, January 22, 1999
1. …the Church in America has recently celebrated the fifth centenary of the first preaching of the Gospel on its soil. The commemoration made all American Catholics more deeply aware of Christ’s desire to meet the inhabitants of the so-called New World so that, gathering them into his Church, he might be present in the continent’s history.
The evangelization of America is not only a gift from the Lord; it is also a source of new responsibilities…
This command applies to the whole Church; and, in this moment of her history, the Church in America is called to take it up and respond with loving generosity to the fundamental task of evangelization. This was what my Predecessor Paul VI, the first Pope to visit America, stressed at Bogota: It will be our task…
“…Realizing the greatness of the gifts received, the pilgrim Church in America wishes to bring the whole of society and every man and woman to share in the riches of faith and communion in Christ.
2. On October 12, 1992, the very day marking the five hundredth anniversary of the first evangelization of America, I spoke at the opening of the Fourth General Assembly of the Latin American Bishops in Santo Domingo…
11. …Throughout the continent, from the time of the first evangelization, “the Gospel was proclaimed by presenting the Virgin Mary as its highest realization. From the beginning ” invoked as Our Lady of Guadalupe”, Mary…
Chapter II. The Christian identity of America
14. “…America’s Christian identity is not synonymous with Catholic identity. The presence of other Christian communities, to a greater or lesser degree in the different parts of America, means that the ecumenical commitment to seek unity among all those who believe in Christ is especially urgent.32
31. …Therefore, the Church in America “must give a clear priority to prayerful reflection on Sacred Scripture by all the faithful”.90
This reading of the Bible, accompanied by prayer, is known in the tradition of the Church as lectio divina, and it is a practice to be encouraged among all Christians….
The Path to Communion
The Church, sacrament of communion
34. “…The journey of Christian initiation comes to completion and reaches its summit in the Eucharist, which fully incorporates the baptized into the Body of Christ. 104
“These sacraments are an excellent opportunity for an effective evangelization and catechesis…
35. The Eucharist is more than simply the culmination of Christian initiation…the Eucharist is the living and lasting center around which the entire community of the Church gathers…it is at one and the same time a Sacrament of Sacrifice, Communion and Presence. 109
The Eucharist is the outstanding moment of encounter with the living Christ. For this reason, by their preaching and catechesis, the Pastors of the People of God in America must strive “to give the Sunday Eucharistic celebration new strength, as the source and summit of the Church’s life…
Leading children to encounter Christ
48. Children are God’s gift and a sign of his presence. “There is a need to accompany children in their encounter with Christ, from Baptism to First Communion, since they are part of the living community of faith, hope and love”. 182 …
Elements of communion with other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities
49. Between the Catholic Church and the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities there exists a drive…nourished by prayer, dialogue and joint action…
It was suggested in the first place “that Catholic Christians, Pastors and faithful foster cooperation between Christians of the different confessions, in the name of the Gospel, in response to the cry of the poor, by the promotion of justice, by common prayer for unity…” 187
Also to be promoted…are meetings of experts from the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities aimed at facilitating ecumenical dialogue. Ecumenism should be a subject of reflection and shared experience between the different Catholic Episcopal Conferences in America.
Although the Second Vatican Council refers to all those who are baptized and believe in Christ as “brothers and sisters in the Lord”, 188 it is necessary to distinguish clearly between Christian communities, with which ecumenical relations can be established, and sects, cults and other pseudo-religious movements.
The globalization of solidarity
55. The Church in America is called not only to promote greater integration between nations, thus helping to create an authentic globalized culture of solidarity, 204
but also to cooperate with every legitimate means in reducing the negative effects of globalization, such as the domination of the powerful over the weak, especially in the economic sphere, and the loss of the values of local cultures in favor of a misconstrued homogenization.
“…The Church in America must be constantly concerned to provide for the effective evangelization of those recent arrivals who do not yet know Christ. 238
The Mission of the Church in America Today:
The New Evangelization
66. “…the new and unique situation in which the world and the Church find themselves at the threshold of the Third Millennium…calls for a new program which can be defined overall as a “new evangelization”. 244
As the Church’s Supreme Pastor, I urgently desire to encourage all the members of God’s People, particularly those living in America…to take up this project and to cooperate in carrying it out…
The encounter with Christ spurs evangelization
68. “…This mission has become particularly urgent today in America, five hundred years after the first evangelization…
“Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous
and very faithful.
“My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
“Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it
“I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.
“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy
law is the truth.”—Psalm 119:138–142