Monday, February 28, 2011

Mons. Victor Corral and The Cry of Riobamba

Monseñor Víctor Alejandro Corral Mantilla (photo), who ably took over the Diocese of Riobamba in Ecuador in 1987 after the late Mons. Leonidas Proaño, who was renowned for his work on behalf of indigenous people, has submitted his resignation, having reached 75, the age at which he must retire according to canon law. Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the bishop's resignation.

Monseñor Corral followed the same pastoral line as Mons. Proaño. He is best known for having convened the ecumenical gathering in 1998 that produced the Grito de Riobamba and, to honor his life and work and also that of the recently deceased Mexican bishop Mons. Samuel Ruíz, one of the signatories of the "Grito", we have translated this famous manifesto into English.

From these luminous heights of Chimborazo, where we are meeting on the 10th anniversary of the death and resurrection of Leonidas Proaño, a good pastor from Riobamba, we want to associate ourselves with the "Cry of the Excluded" ["Grito de los Excluidos"], and the hopes of the peoples of our Continent.

The God of Exodus and Easter, who always listens to the cries of His people in the processes of liberation and life, has convened us ecumenically. And the local Church of Riobamba, with its head pastor, Mons. Victor Corral, welcomes us with fraternal generosity.

Along with the memory of the Patriarch of Riobamba, we also celebrate the 30th anniversary of Medellin, the 25th anniversary of the Latin American Council of Churches and the 50th anniversary of the World Council of Churches. And, with all the churches of the world, we prepare to celebrate the jubilee of the coming of Jesus Christ.

During these days of anniversary, we have visited the communities and participated in the various encounters of indigenous people, Latin American people of African descent, pastoral agents and CEBs [Christian base communities], noting in all of these contacts the vitality of this Church so prophetically cultivated by its pastors and that is such a protagonist for the poor.

At this time of jubilee, therefore, we want to make the great causes that forged the soul and action of Mons. Proaño our own:

  • The option for the poor, of compromising currency now more than ever because they are more than 70% of Our America -- excluded by the neoliberal system;

  • The struggles and alternative contribution of the indigenous people (and also the people of African descent), especially in the defense of the earth and living out their own cultural identity and social autonomy;

  • Community, as an expression of fraternal "communion and participation" in church and society;

  • And solidarity between the peoples and faiths in our Great Country and with the faiths and peoples of other continents, especially of the Third World.

1. Starting from the option for the poor:

  • We will tirelessly denounce the inequality of neoliberalism as a total market, a system of exclusion, idolatry of profit and uncontrolled ecocide, as well as the repressive growing arms race, militarism and paramilitarism.

  • Together with the voices that are now rising in various parts of the world, we will denounce the new vicious onslaught of the announced Multilateral Agreement on Investment, MAI.

  • We will fight permanently for the abolition of foreign debt and for the payment of the social debt that has accumulated against the life and dignity of our peoples.

  • We will demand the reform of international institutions (UN, IMF, WB, G-8) that benefit the accumulating and exploiting countries, and we will also demand reform of the political, judicial and social institutions of our countries.

  • We will support through effective solidarity the movements for liberation and peace, and against impunity and institutionalized violence that are burgeoning on our continent, particularly in Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, and Haiti.

  • We will encourage responsible participation of the people in politics and in the various manifestations of the popular and civic movement.

2. We will move from the ecumenism of intentions, speeches and isolated gestures to a mutual recognition of the denominations, complementary repositories of the truth and holiness of the one mystery of Christ, by

  • trying to overcome historical ambitions and even doctrinal disquisitions that don't always have anything to do with the Gospel;

  • serving prophetically in the diaconate of "justice, peace, and the integrity of creation";

  • dialoguing as well, macroecumenically, with all religions, more specifically with the indigenous and African religions, starting from faith in a single God and a single human family, in a spirit of acceptance, conversion, self-criticism and criticism;

  • helping to overcome the attitude of centralization and authoritarianism of the Catholic church, and the atomization of the evangelical churches;

  • Recognizing each other as equals through baptism and in the service of the Kingdom; we will enhance adult participation of the laity, and women in particular, in the denominations, participation that will be exercised in the various ministries and decision-making positions;

  • Inculturating liturgy, theology, and all ministry in the light of the Gospel and the freedom of the Spirit;

  • Building day to day the Church we dream of as People of God, with the Bible brought alive, in the Christian base communities, through social ministry, in creativity that is faithful to the Gospel and to our times and to Our America...

We want this to be the way of living out and helping to live out, in our respective denominations and countries, the true and lasting jubilee that Jesus of Nazareth introduced, thus making specific, beyond any triumphalist and occasional celebration, what the Biblical Jubilee must mean in our social and religious contexts for a personal and structural conversion of our churches and societies, through living out faith consistently and in an inculturated manner, through fraternally living out together peace with justice and dignity, through satisfaction of the greater demands for land, health, housing, education, communication and work.

We want to safeguard the historical memory of our denominations and our peoples and we feel responsible for a heritage of centuries of struggles and martyrdoms that we cannot misuse. We walk with many brothers and sisters who, in Our America, in the whole Third World and those in solidarity in the First World, hopefully contest the fatalism that the single system wants to impose on us. And we trust in the loving presence of the God of Jesus, liberator of the poor, Father-Mother of the human family.

For the Catholic Church: Samuel Ruiz
For the Protestant and evangelical churches: Federico Pagura
For the theologians: José Comblin
For those in pastoral ministry: José Oscar Beozzo
For the religious: Magdalena Vandenheen
For the laity: Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
Riobamba, Ecuador, August 30, 1998

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