MEXICO CITY — Addressing a conference on the Church in the Americas, the head of the Knights of Columbus noted the importance of the family and motherhood, modeled on Mary, in drawing souls to Christ.
“On a continent where John Paul II told us the laity was largely responsible for the future of evangelization here, Our Lady of Guadalupe shows us the way not only as a member of the laity, but an example of the domestic Church: as a wife and as a mother,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said Nov. 17.
Anderson made his remarks in Mexico City at the conference and pilgrimage “Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization on the American Continent.”
During his talk, he noted that “when we speak of the relationship and cooperation among the Churches of this hemisphere, we therefore must include prominently in our analysis the family, the domestic Church.”
Given the laity’s central role in the evangelization of the Americas, he said it is “no accident” that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared “with such an emphasis on the domestic church.”
“She appears as our Mother — and is recognized as such around the hemisphere. She appears pregnant and has been adopted by the pro-life movement as a cornerstone of the culture of life. In other words, she asks the Church to put the domestic Church, the family and the evangelization of and by the family at the center of our work for evangelization.”
The conference, which has drawn together around 600 participants, is inspired by John Paul II’s 1999 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America and is discussing the evangelization of the Americas at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Among the speakers was Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, who greeted Anderson, following his speech, as “a man of vision,” thanking him and adding that “there is no New Evangelization without a new vision, and you have provided one.”
Anderson emphasized that the first evangelization of the Americas was accomplished by the miracle of the apparition at Tepeyac and that her message “was delivered … by a layman.”
He noted the fact that Our Lady of Guadalupe is venerated “from Alaska to Argentina” and that “she has transcended borders, language and culture. She announces to us the path to communion and collaboration for Catholics throughout this hemisphere.”
Model for the New Evangelization
Our Lady’s “perfect inculturation,” he said, was what made her “able to transcend the specifics of the cultural clash of the time and place in which she appeared. Also key to the momentous change she produced was her message of love, reconciliation and forgiveness.”
Anderson proposed her example as the model for the New Evangelization, as the Church looks to the 500th anniversary of the apparition.
Our Lady of Guadalupe’s appearance to an indigenous Mexican is “a clear model for cooperation between cultures and peoples” and is a call for us to be a Church “of the Good Samaritan,” he said.
“It is a model based on love, on charity and on concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of all those with whom we share the American continent.”
“The mestiza Virgin appeared in the words of Blessed John Paul II as perfectly inculturated. She presented herself with cultural symbolism that brought about attraction, love and reconciliation, and ultimately conversion.”
He added that the Americas are “a continent of immigration” and that, following Mary’s example, we “must stand ready to welcome the immigrant, to protect their faith and their human dignity and to help them find not just a better life on earth, but a better spiritual life as well.”
Anderson also noted that Latin America has much to offer to the people of North America, for “the countries of our hemisphere with the richest faith sometimes have the least material wealth.”
In the U.S., he said, we should see “a source of New Evangelization” in the “faithful witness of recent immigrants. … As has long been true on our continent, immigrants bring a strong faith and renewed vibrancy to the Church that should be embraced and should encourage other Catholics.”
“Cooperation must be two-way. Our love of neighbor must not be paternalistic, but, rather, an exchange of gifts and especially the sincere gift of self.”
Anderson went on to discuss the ties between solidarity and charity and considered that Pope Francis “clearly understands the loving and inculturated model of evangelization given birth here in America by Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
He suggested that the 2007 conference at Aparecida, Brazil — a gathering of Latin-American bishops discussing mission, which was chaired by then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio — “shows the influence of the unique contribution of Our Lady of Guadalupe to evangelization — and to the New Evangelization in America.”
“It seems unmistakable,” Anderson reflected, “that there is a connection between Pope Francis and the model of Our Lady of Guadalupe in attracting people to the fullness of faith by highlighting love, forgiveness and reconciliation.”
“Where is Our Lady of Guadalupe, the loving Mother who promised to be close to all those of this continent who might come to her in need?” Anderson asked, in conclusion.
“Is she not here with us in the Guadalupan model unmistakable in the roadmaps laid out by Ecclesia in America and at Aparecida? Is she not here with us in the Guadalupan model now being seen throughout the world in the work of her American son, Pope Francis?”
“Like our new pope, we too must, by our own witness, build a Church that is a place of refuge, a place where wounds are healed, a battlefield hospital where all are welcomed and where the medicine is a charity — an authentic Christian charity that evangelizes, one that does not compromise on truth, but provides a rehabilitative path of reconciliation. But for this to truly become a reality throughout our hemisphere, a new partnership among laity, religious and clergy will be required.”