Aparecida (Agenzia Fides) - The solemn opening session of the 60th General Assembly of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) will be held on Wednesday,April 19 at 8.30 am at the Congress Center of the National Shrine of Aparecida. The assembly will last until April 28th and will consist of 22 working sessions. Every day at 6.30 p.m. the bishops will take part in a Eucharistic celebration in the national Shrine. On April 23rd there will be a penitential service and on April 26th the bishops will take part in an interreligious celebration. Two days will be dedicated to the spiritual retreat: Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April.
According to the Bishops' Conference, the agenda has one central theme ("Global Assessment of the progress of the CNBB") and 6 priority themes (Doctrine of the faith, Liturgy, Regulations of the CNBB, Four-year report, Economics, Liturgical Texts). The program also includes the analysis with debate on 15 other topics: Agreement with the Holy See in Brazil, Analysis of the social and ecclesial situation, Management, Fraternity Campaign, Council of Latin American Bishops (CELAM), Charis, Commission for Communion and Exchange, Episcopal Commission for Amazonia, National Solidarity Fund and Jubilee 2025, Research Project "Holistic Health of the Clergy", Synod of Bishops 2023-2024, Visit of the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Maiduguri (Nigeria), Msgr. John Bogna Bakeni, Basic Ecclesial Communities. Several reports are also to be presented, including the list of Bishops Emeritus and reports from the Observatory for Religious Communication in Brazil, the National Missionary Action, the Synod of Bishops and the 18th National Eucharistic Congress. Finally, the Assembly will publish three messages: to the Pope, to the Prefect of the Dicastery of Bishops and to the Brazilian people.
During the Assembly, the four members of the Council of Bishops, twelve presidents of the permanent episcopal commissions, two representatives of the CNBB at the Council of Latin American Bishops (CELAM), a titular and a substitute, and 2 Bishops who will participate in the Synod on Synodality, in Rome.
Monsignor Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, Archbishop of Belo Horizonte, was President of the CNBB for the four-year period 2019-2023. Taking stock of this period, he underlined the great challenges he had to face in the last four years (pandemic and ideological polarizations) and the priorities that the CNBB and the Church in Brazil will have toface. "In the last four years, Brazil has experienced an escalation of polarizations, with divisions that appeared even within families and that were caused by political-ideological disagreements. A sad scenario that has arisen in the context of the increasing spread of fake news. A culminating moment of these polarizations was reached in the last elections", the Archbishop stressed in an interview broadcast by the CNBB. Following the teaching of Jesus Christ, the CNBB "has always stood by the side of the poor, faithful to Gospel values, and courageously and prophetically raised their voice to denounce the threats to society and democracy and the contempt for the poorest. Faithful to this commitment, she has always sought the path of understanding and dialogue".
Looking to the future, Msgr. Oliveira de Azevedo believes that one of the most important aspects for the Church around the world will be the commitment to synodality. The Brazilian Bishops' Conference, which already sees itself as an expression of synodality, since it brings together the many contributions of the Brazilian episcopate and counts on the participation of ordained evangelizers and lay Christians, "must continue to advance along this synodal path. This means continuously intensifying our services to the many faith communities across the country and encourage wider participation, with particular attention to women's participation."
According to the Brazilian Bishops' Conference, the Church in Brazil currently has a total of 326 active bishops and 157 bishops emeritus. There are a total of 279 parishes, including 219 dioceses, 45 archdioceses and 7 prelatures. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 18/4/2023)