See, judge, act: Latin American bishops tell pope

Latin American bishops have sent Pope Benedict the draft conclusions of their recent conference at Aparecida Brazil, retaining the traditional but still controversial "see, judge, act" format.

The Pope received the document from the presidents of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean held from 13-31 May, which was held near the sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Zenit reports.

"We are waiting for the Holy Father to approve the document in order to be able to share it with all the communities that anxiously await his guidance to continue with the evangelising mission in this continent of hope," a communique from the Latin American bishops' council stated.

Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, prefect for the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago, Chile, and San Salvador Archbishop Geraldo Majella Agnelo, president of the Latin American bishops' council, presented the document to the pope.

The document is divided into three parts, following the method of theological-pastoral reflection "to see, to judge and to act."

US commentator John L Allen links the use of this methodology to what he describes as "a cautious embrace of the core legacy of liberation theology, including the option for the poor, the concept of structural sin, ecclesial base communities, and the "see-judge-act" method of social discernment".

"Critics see in the method an implied relativism", Allen says, "as if truth can be manufactured by consensus employing the 'see-judge-act' process.

According to Allen, "many also regard 'see-judge-act' as a slogan for the overly 'horizontal' spirituality they associate with liberation theology.

But "like the base communities, the 'see-judge-act' method has older roots," Allen says, referring to Young Christian Workers founder, Belgian Father, later Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, who coined the term.

According to the bishops' communique, the document "proposes to look at reality with eyes enlightened by faith and a heart filled with love".

"It proclaims with joy the Gospel of Jesus Christ to shed light on the goal and the path of human life.

"It seeks, through a communal discernment open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, common/shared threads of a truly missionary activity that would place the People of God in a permanent state of mission."

The Latin American bishops are preparing their next ordinary assembly in Havana from 10 to 13 July. This assembly aims to concretise the great continental mission called for by the Aparecida conference.

Aparecida Document Sent to Pontiff (Zenit, 11/6/07)
Sorting out the results of the Latin American bishops' meeting (NCR Cafe, 1/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
V Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops, Aparecida, Brazil)
Liberation Theology Chronology
Liberation Theology (Encounter, 18/7/1999)
Liberation theology (Wikipedia)
Reflection action process (Office for Social Justice St Paul Minneapolis)

Latin America "continent of hope", Benedict believes (CathNews, 14/5/07)

13 Jun 2007