Friday, 28 November 2003

Guatemala City (Fides Service) – On 27 November Peruvian born Mrs Adelaida Sueiro Cabredo, married with three children, addressed the CAM2 assembly in Guatemala City on the subject of ‘Mission, Proclaiming the Gospel of Fullness of Life for All’ . Mrs Sueiro Cabredo is a member of the Movement of Catholic Professionals and she teaches theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. She is also a consultant of the Health Pastoral Department of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference, a researcher at the Institute Bartolomé de las Casas and co-ordinator of a research project “New Religious Movements in Peru”. Mrs Sueiro Cabredo was kind enough to answer questions put by Fides

What does CAM2 signify for you and what do you expect it to produce?

It is particularly significant that CAM2 is taking place in Guatemala: a land and a people in the south of the globalised world. The Lord called us here to announce the Gospel of Life. This Congress is a meeting of the Church marked by epochal changes and a situation which is a particular challenge for the history of our peoples. As members of the Church we have an opportunity to reflect and to celebrate our faith. Looking at our situations in the light of the Word of God, we discover the face of the poor, the suffering and we hear the Lord calling us to help. The Santo Domingo Conference reminded us that the Lord calls us to make a commitment of brotherhood and solidarity, to defend the lives of countless men and women, the majority on this continent, suffering every day from poverty , violence, exclusion.
In an attitude of prayer we put the path we have travelled before the Lord. This is an opportunity to thank him for his faithful presence among these peoples. With thank him for the tenacious witness of men and women struggling day after to assist the poor making our Church a sign of salvation in history.

What fundamental contribution can the Church in Central American make towards the universal mission starting from her own experience of faith?

The history of the Church in Central America is rich in testimony of fidelity to the Lord. I think that in recent decades, with her courageous commitment to defend, even to martyrdom, this Church has borne witness with actions and words to her faith in the God of life. This experience is her greatest treasure. Starting from this experience the Lord calls the people: the poor to realise that their poverty is not a punishment; victims of violence to claim their rights; women to demand respect for their dignity, trampled on for centuries; that fear must not stop people from searching for their loved ones who disappeared in times of violence; men and women of good must share their goods with the needy, peoples must forgive peoples. The Lord Jesus is alive and he says that his Kingdom is already here in our history!

What is the role of women in Mission ad gentes and new evangelisation?

Women, particular poorer women, of various different cultures, ethnic identities and religions are beginning to recognise and occupy their role in society as women. Affirming their rights they are learning to show that they are capable of thinking, discussing, deciding, organising. Women are taking their future in hand. In the struggle for recognition of their dignity and to escape poverty, faith is an inexhaustible source of spiritual strength which nourishes their commitment and hope to put an end to inhuman living conditions. Spiritual strength enables women to find their true vocation and to realise that as women they are a new dimension of the inexhaustible mystery of God. In the Church today, women, always present although silent and anonymous, are assuming new ecclesial responsibilities, bringing dynamism and vitality to the church life and opening new paths for pastoral work and also for the evangelising mission.

How can the men, women and children of today take part today in evangelisation?

The Second Vatican Council brought a new awareness of the responsibility of the laity, as the People of God and assigned a special place for an effective presence of lay people in the mission of the Church. Lay men and women are called not to neglect their responsibility in the world, indeed, they must be committed to building a world inspired by the values of the Kingdom of God.

Amidst a spreading culture of death how can the Gospel of Life be instilled into the hearts of the men and women of today?

Undoubtedly the many signs and symbols of a culture of death are painful for our eyes and for our hearts. But, as Pope John XXIII taught, we must look at the present and the future with the eyes of faith and reason. If we look carefully we will see signs that the Lord is guiding history. In fact despite signs of death, the history of humanity always carries the presence of God made Man in the actions of brotherhood and solidarity of those who care for the man lying injured in the street. The Church has a message of salvation to offer the world in the face of all the problems afflicting mankind today. Starting from hope, men and women can find in their hearts the strength to live and love.

You are attending the Congress with a team of other women from Peru. What contribution can this team make towards evangelisation?

I was invited to the Congress to speak on the theme ‘Mission and Proclaiming the Gospel of Life’. For about 32 years I have been part of a group of pastoral lay workers, men and women. In the light of the faith we share and reflect on our experience, our work which varies in different parishes in Peru. A priority in these years has been to build relations of respect and equality between men and women, in the building of society and in the field of church responsibilities. With regard to evangelisation, enriched with a richness of diverse experiences all over Peru and in other countries, the group is ever more open to the universal dimension of our faith.

Tell us about the campaigns to force surgical birth control on Peruvian women across the country.

In Peru in 1996, the dictatorship promoted voluntary surgical birth control campaigns all over the country as a state policy. Birth control surgery, supported by international bodies, became a widespread movement and it was practised on women, especially the poorest and less educated, who had already had two or three children. Besides violating the dignity of women, the campaign was also highly dangerous for the women’s heath, physical and mental. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Peru and other bodies in society had to have recourse to international instances to stop these outrageous and shameful campaigns. (R.Z.) (Fides Service 28/11/2003 – lines 95, words 1.222)