Pope Says Latin America Needs Witnesses of Christ, Not Bureaucracies

Addresses Challenges of Evangelization

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Latin America does not need new ecclesial structures, but rather evangelizers who speak ever more about Christ and demonstrate a preferential option for the poor, says John Paul II.



The Pope today focused on the challenges for the proclamation of the Gospel in the "continent of hope" when he received in audience the Pontifical Council for Latin America.

"The Church needs many and qualified evangelizers who, with new ardor, renewed enthusiasm, fine ecclesial spirit, and abounding in faith and hope, speak ever more of Jesus Christ," he said.

"These evangelizers -- bishops, priests and deacons, men and women religious, lay faithful -- are, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the indispensable protagonists in the evangelizing endeavor, in which persons count more than structures, although the latter are, in a certain sense, necessary," the Holy Father explained.

"Such structures must be simple, agile, only the indispensable, so that they do not weigh down but help and facilitate pastoral work; moreover, they must be effective, according to the needs of the present times," John Paul II told the commission.

"It is important," the Pope said, "to take advantage of all modern technologies for evangelization, but avoiding excessive bureaucratization, the multiplication of trips and meetings, as well as the unnecessary use of persons, time and economic resources that could be better employed in the direct action of the evangelical proclamation and care of the needy."

He continued: "Structures and organizations, as well as the style of ecclesial life, must always reflect the simple face of Latin America to facilitate greater closeness to the disinherited masses, the Indians, emigrants and the displaced, workers, the marginalized, the sick and, in general, those who suffer, namely, all those who are or will be the object of your preferential option."

The objective of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, created by Pius XII in 1958, is to counsel and assist particular Churches of that area, as well as to study the doctrinal and pastoral problems they encounter.