Santo Domingo (Agenzia Fides) - In a Pastoral Letter issued for the feast of Our Lady of Altagracia, the patroness of the country on 21 January, the Bishops of the Dominican Republic offer the people a “word of support and courage to illuminate daily events with the light of Christ that our people 'may have life in Him”. The Letter focuses on the 2008 pastoral year theme: “Missionary disciple: make your cultural values bear fruit”.
Reflecting on the social and ecclesial situation in the country the Bishops identity among the positive aspects widespread “thirst for God”, “spirit of solidarity”, “spreading access to advanced information technology”, “openness and enthusiasm towards God for the realisation of the pastoral plan”. The negative aspects they highlight include “persistent corruption, drug abuse and drug trafficking, violence and crime, increasing poverty and marginalisation, deterioration of basic services, loss of values, new adversities which strike the institutions of marriage, the family, a spreading culture of death and spreading secularisation”.
In this situation the Bishops write “The Lord calls everyone to holiness, the only path for transforming society and for mission”. “In this situation and following our itinerary of evangelisation, it is urgent for people of God and its pastoral workers to receive adequate formation in order to achieve this task with effectiveness and audacity”; formation to missione which must “integral and systematic”.
This mission must lead to “a Church in favour of justice and the poor” and, on the basis of Gospel values, "to the building up of a culture of love and life” while giving priority to “values which strengthen the identity and consciences of all Dominicans”.
The Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic, following the itinerary of evangelisation contained in the 3rd national pastoral plan, supports the appeal for a Great Mission proposed by the Document of Aparecida. “This is a good opportunity to give new life to our Church and intensify pastoral animation” say the Bishops and they conclude by calling the Church to be “active, faithful and credible nourished by the Word of God and the Eucharist”; a Church which “promotes a mature laity, co-responsible for mission to announce the Kingdom of God and render it visible, and remain faithful in keeping with the Gospel to her to preference for the poor”. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 16/1/2008; righe 33, parole 452)