"We say 'first' because the true fruits should be appearing later in the life of the Church of Latin America. But the impulse and the direction are reasons for great hope," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in an editorial on the most recent broadcast of the show "Octava Dies."
The weekly show is produced by the Vatican Television Center, of which Father Lombardi is also director.
The priest was commenting on the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, which closed last Thursday in Aparecida, Brazil.
"Naturally," he said, "those who expected extraordinary novelties will be disappointed, but what counts is the living sense of identity of the ecclesial community that is undertaking a new 'continental mission,' whose clear priorities are the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and human betterment.
"The great themes of the times are quite present in the reflections of the bishops: difficulty in the transmission of the faith, globalization and structural injustice."
In this context, "starting from their faith in Jesus Christ, who reveals the love of God the Father to us, the ecclesial communities must renew themselves in their pastoral life and their witness of Christian life," Father Lombardi said.
The Vatican spokesman continued: "The 'preferential option for the poor,' which Benedict XVI declared to be 'implicit in faith in a God who made himself poor for us,' must be loudly declared, inserted in a horizon of long-range tasks that stretch from the promotion of international justice, to the defense of marriage, the family, life and creation."
It deals with "an evangelization that is therefore incarnated and inculturated, which reopens for young people -- to those young people whom we saw embrace Benedict XVI with such confidence in Brazil -- the hope to which they have a right," Father Lombardi said.
He added: "The universal Church feels itself united to that of Latin America in its renewed condition of 'permanent mission.'"