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President of U.S. Bishops' Conference Speaks in Brazil

"The Great Mobility of Peoples Is Interweaving Us in One Cloth of Faith"

APARECIDA, Brazil, MAY 23, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the report Bishop William Skylstad of Washington, president of the U.S. episcopal conference, delivered last week at the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.

* * *

Dear brothers in the episcopate of Latin America, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, receive my cordial greeting on behalf of all the bishops of the episcopal conference of the United States. For my brother bishops from the delegation of the United States and myself, it is an honor to be able to participate in this 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean and benefit from the abundance of grace that we are receiving during these three weeks of prayer, study and commitment. We want to have solidarity in the task of evangelizing this entire continent.

How could we fail to recall with profound gratitude the collaboration and closeness there has been between our peoples throughout our history? In many key moments, we have made of our continent, one America, one Church, as the Servant of God John Paul II reminded us. Many of our first parishes and some of the cathedrals of the United States were built with help coming from countries like Mexico, Cuba and Argentina.

In 1965, during the last session of the Second Vatican Council, the prelates of the United States agreed to carry out, through the bishops, an annual national collection to offer economic support to the Church's pastoral projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. The committee offers help to the Church's projects especially related to the application of the conclusions from Vatican II, from the 2nd general conferences of Latin American bishops in Medellin and from the 3rd general conference of Latin American bishops in Puebla. It gives special priority to the pastoral programs and projects that offer the Church in Latin America a base on which to plan its actions efficiently. In the same way, it will be at the service of the initiatives and priorities that arise from our conference in Aparecida.

In 2003, the bishops of the United States and Mexico approved the historic declaration "Together on the Journey of Hope," in which both episcopates joined to examine the impact of migration on the social, political and spiritual life of the two countries. Motivated by the call of the Holy Father for a "new evangelization" and a greater unity among the Catholics of this hemisphere, the bishops offered a detailed guide to all of those who minister to immigrants, and concrete steps for improving pastoral experiences. The declaration also offered a political recommendation to the two nations for respecting the dignity of the immigrant.

Since 2004, we have cooperated with CELAM [the Latin American bishops' council] in the project of translating the Bible of the Church in America; the bishops' council of the Unites States has committed itself to funding for the next 10 years -- using the funds from the collection for the Church in Latin America -- the preparation of a Bible for pastoral and liturgical use for the entire American continent.

Together with the bishops of Latin America, the bishops of the United States share a pastoral concern for young people. In June of 2006, in Notre Dame University, the first encounter for Latin American youth was held. This encounter showed the vigor and quality of the Catholic faith that immigrant youth have brought to this country. We were pleased that a delegation from CELAM honored us with their presence.

In these moments, we are concerned about the immigration reform that is being considered in the United States Congress. I ask your prayers as we continue fighting for a just and broad immigration reform that respects the dignity of the human being and promotes the integrity of immigrant families.

I echo the words of the Holy Father Benedict XVI in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees: "Dear friends, the reality of immigration should never be seen as just a problem, but rather also and above all as a great resource for the journey of humanity." The great mobility of peoples is interweaving us in one cloth of faith, rich in diversity and culture. Those who go in search of paths of hope and life demand from their pastors that we are in fraternal communion and committed to giving an answer in solidarity with them.

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