Father General's intervention at the Synod (complete text)

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Holy Father, brothers and sisters,

The confrontation with reality (No. 118-119) as part of discernment presupposes an adequate analysis (interpretation) of the reality that has been recognized. I perceive in the “Instrumentum Laboris” a simplified and negative view of secularization. Being a characteristic of the change of epoch in which we live is hardly mentioned in part I as a kind of dark stage in the process of overcoming, disappears in the second part in which it seeks to interpret reality and discern the action of God in history, to reappear hardly mentioned in some numbers of the third part, always in a negative tone.

What if we dare, instead, to see secularization as a sign of the times, in the theological sense that the Second Vatican Council gave to this expression? It is about seeing secularization, and the secular world that emerges from it, as one of the ways in which the Spirit is speaking and guiding us in this time. Instead of multiplying regrets for an idealized past that is gone, let us ask ourselves sincerely what the Lord is telling us through secularization, where the Holy Spirit leads us through that path that humanity is living.

Let us ask ourselves, for example, what secularization liberates us from. Answering leads us to differentiate the various types of secularization.

(a) One is the fighting secularism that fights against any form of religious faith from a militant atheism.

(b) In other cases, secularism is shown to be indifferent to religious experience.

(c) One of the frequent effects of secularization is the interruption of social conversations about religion that leads to ignorance about faith, religious experience, and religion itself.

(d) When society becomes secular, there arise in many the desire to know the experience of religion and faith.  At this point, the fight against religion has been overcome and indifference is transformed into an investigation of the religious phenomenon. In this way, out of curiosity many young people come to see what they find.

Perceiving the process of secularization as a “sign of the times” leads to:

1) Making us aware of how the secular world frees us from being Christians automatically, out of habit, because we live in a Christian environment, because we are part of a Christian family in a Christian society. In a secular society, you are Christian because you want to be, because the question has been asked, it has been answered, and you choose to be a Christian.

2) Secular society also liberates us from basing religion in tribal identity, a national identity or any other identity alien to the spiritual experience that invites us to recognize ourselves as humans, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same father.

3) Secular society leads us to recover the importance of the announcement of the faith and the pastoral accompaniment of human and Christian maturation. The first announcement of the faith thus becomes a key dimension of the work of the church in these types of societies. The announcement of the faith is based on the testimony of the apostles of whom Jesus, the crucified-resurrected, let himself be seen. Today there are witnesses who have had a personal encounter with Christ and testify with their lives as disciples.

4) The announcement follows the long and complex process of accompanying the maturation of the faith. The experience of faith does not produce subjects of a lordship but voluntary followers of the Universal Kingdom of the crucified-resurrected of whom they have freely chosen to become disciples. Hence the importance of Christian communities. We know that the Christian faith is not lived in isolation; the Christian faith is lived in community and it is the community that guarantees that accompaniment of the process of maturation in the faith.

[Original Spanish text]