Rio de Janeiro (Agenzia Fides) - "We have decided that Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter) of this year 2023 will also be a day of prayer to overcome polarization and promote reconciliation". This was announced by the Bishops of the Leste 1 Region of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference (CNBB) who, during the meeting of the Episcopal Council held in March, addressed the issue of the polarization of society, with its negative and divisive effects. "This phenomenon questions us a lot", write the Bishops in their message entitled "For he is our peace, he who made both one people" (Eph 2:14). "Polarization denies the value of diversity of opinion, fragments society and also hurts church communion. It also breaks fundamental bonds such as family unity and personal and social friendship".
The second Sunday of Easter, Mercy Sunday, reminds us of the gift of the Spirit for forgiveness (cf. Jn 20:22-23). "Reconciliation is a gift of the risen Christ. In a world torn by discord, the new presence of the Lord offers us the possibility of overcoming what separates us from God and from each other".
The Pastors of the Eastern Region 1 are aware "that it is a fundamental part of our mission as Bishops to promote unity, communion and reconciliation in our communities and to work together so that there is also a communion in our society". They thus emphasize that "the positive interaction between different thoughts promotes social good. For society, as for the Church, legitimate differences are a common good".
The message then recalls that
"communion and mutual appreciation between the different charisms, ministries and theologies are very important for the good of the Church and for the fulfillment of her mission of evangelization". In this regard, they quote the apostle Paul: "We are one body in Christ because we have been baptized with one baptism, have received the same Spirit (1 Cor 12,13) and have eaten the same bread (1 Cor 10.17)".
It is part of the Bishops' mission to help overcome polarization and promote values that prevent social disintegration and build a better society. "To evangelize, in a polarized society, means to promote encounter, union, correspondence and reconciliation". The message invites, in situations of conflict, to always keep in mind the good and the moral and social values at stake, because "we cannot compromise or harm these goods, nor the communion of the Church, of families and society for ideological or political reasons. The good of communion is above these motives and must be safeguarded and promoted in every situation. When this good is injured, the remedy that heals it is reconciliation".
On this Sunday of Mercy, the bishops invite us to ask the Good Lord "to enlighten us in order to properly discern the deep roots of polarization and identify its consequences, as well as to strengthen us to act well by overcoming polarization and promoting communion". With this intention, they invite us to unite in prayer with the words attributed to Saint Francis: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 13/4/2023)