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Asuncion – The Bishops of Paraguay, “aware that the evangelical path of listening, synodality, dialogue and consultation, constitutes the appropriate medicine for social health”, they entrust themselves to the intercession of María Santísima de Caacupé and to the prayer of all Christians, “to serve the Lord and his Church with the heart of the Good Shepherd, who heals and protects the weakest and most defenseless”. This is the exhortation in the message of the Bishops of Paraguay published at the end of their ordinary General Assembly, held on july 8 and 9 in presence, while the first part of the meeting, on July 5 and 6, was held in virtual form. In the message, sent to Fides, the Bishops inform that they shared “moments of prayer and reflection on different aspects of the ecclesial and national reality, with an attitude of listening to the signs of the times to seek God’s will”.
Listening is also the fundamental attitude of the first step in the preparation for the Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean, which will be held in Mexico in November. This event “is an experience that nourishes the communion of the Latin American Church and opens it to universal communion”, underline the Bishops, encouraging “all the faithful, on a personal and community level” to be actively involved in this process. Then they announce their intention to “promote initiatives and concrete actions of dialogue among the various sectors and protagonists of national life, in order to develop proposals and consensual efforts that provide solutions to the great challenges and the many needs of our brothers, especially those most affected by inequality and poverty”.
The Year of the Eucharist, which the Paraguayan Church is living this year with the motto “They recognized him in the breaking of the bread”, is an invitation to return to “the encounter with Christ in the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament”. The Bishops reiterate that “the mission of the disciples is born and reborn from the fire of the heart that listens to the living Christ, who continues to break bread for many, nourishing the hope that with him we can overcome discouragement in the face of difficulties, the distances that separate us , the obstacles that stop us”. Therefore, they exhort: “With Christ we must be the medicine in this time, of the pandemic and of the post-pandemic, which reveals the diseases that we must eradicate, and which are expressions of various forms of moral, social and institutional corruption, and which influence the peaceful coexistence and prevent the dignified life of all of us who are brothers”. The Year of the Laity, prepared for the pastoral year 2022, challenges us to the experience of the Word heard, which makes the hearts of the disciples burn and of the mystery celebrated in the Eucharist : “United with Christ, all of us baptized are committed to being ‘salt of the earth and light of the world’ with proclamation and witness”, the Bishops exhort. In the concluding part, the message focuses on the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequences for educational processes, noting that “new technologies and communication platforms are of great help in current circumstances, but do not replace personal contact and accompaniment required in the educational process”, however there is also “the digital gap in the inequalities of access to telematic means, the lack of resources … “. This is why they ask to continue working together: “Our commitment to the necessary preventive measures must continue with patience, with zeal for life and responsibility for all. Vaccines save lives … The joint efforts of science, medicine, social communicators and religious communities help to keep away fears, clarify doubts and promote the due attention of all sectors to solidarity and to ensure equity in access to vaccines and medical resources. It is necessary that the public administration continue to provide the necessary resources in this emergency and consolidate the commitment to the health of our citizens”. Expressing gratitude to doctors and health personnel, and remembering all the deceased and their families, the Bishops conclude the message deploring “so much insecurity, violence, kidnapping and abuses of indigenous peoples” and urging those responsible for security and justice “to strengthen the means to ensure respect for property and the life of the entire population”.