Santiago de Chile (Agenzia Fides) - The Bishops of Chile opened their 95th Plenary Assembly yesterday. The Assembly will close April 18 in Punta de Tralca. The opening Mass was presided by the new Apostolic Nuncio of Chile, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto. In his homily, the Archbishop expressed his desire to fulfill the mission of being “living sign of communion between the Holy Father Benedict XVI and his pastoral activity, making his presence felt as a symbol of charity and unity.”
The main theme of the Assembly will be the final revision and approval of the Church’s Pastoral Guidelines for the next five years in Chile. There will also be some criteria given for carrying out the Continental Mission in the country, which is an initiative from the 5th Conference of Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. As is customary, the Bishops will also reflect on the various issues in the situation of the Church and the country and will examine the five areas of pastoral activity in the Bishops’ Conference (ecclesiastical activity, evangelizing organizations, education, social activity, and communications).
At the end of the Mass, in a press conference, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic, pointed out the importance of the Plenary Assembly: “This meeting is of great transcendental importance because it is the continuation of the Diocesan Assemblies and the great First Ecclesial Assembly that we took part in last year in order to prepare the Pastoral Guidelines for the country (see Fides 12/10/2007). In this Assembly, we hope to approve them and then distribute them to each diocese so that the Bishops can determine their own pastoral plan.”
Bishop Goic also spoke on the so-called “morning after pill,” insisting that life is sacred in all its forms and that although the scientific world refuses to acknowledge its [the pill’s] real effects, the Church will continue to defend the life that has been conceived and that has the right to be born. He also pointed out the alarming fact that the citizens are not complying with the court decisions: “Regarding the morning after pill, there is some flaw in the Constitutional Court that we still do not fully know. The strange part about the situation, however, is that members of Parliament are encouraging demonstrations in protest of the court decision. The decisions of the court should be complied with. I believe that this issue has been idealized. The great debate in the Chilean society is over whether we want life, from its beginning to its end, to be at the heart of our institution.”
At the end of the Plenary Assembly, in the closing Mass on April 18 at 12:00pm, the Bishops will present awards to those people who have offered their service over the years in the Superior Institute for Youth Ministry (ISPAJ) and the National Institute for Rural Pastoral Ministry (INPRU), two organizations of the Bishops’ Conference whose tasks will be assumed by other ecclesial groups. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 15/4/2008; righe 38, parole 494)