On the Border: Preview of the Church to Come?

VATICAN CITY—It's the place where two worlds meet: where North America confronts Latin America.

The bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas says “only the Church can bring together these two worlds.” And he offers his diocese along the Rio Grande as a model of what the Church in America might become.

“I have lived on the border between Mexico and the United States all my life as priest and bishop,” Bishop Raymundo PeÒa told the Register during the Special Synod of Bishops for America. “It's a border where the economies of the Third World and the First World meet and intermingle.”

Bishop PeÒa said “close collegial collaboration” had sprung up between the border Churches in Mexico and the United States.

“The river that divides our nations does not divide our families or our particular churches,” he said. “We are one people of God, called to live in communion.”

To remove obstacles that may limit this communion, he said the bishops of Texas and the Mexican states that border Texas had begun meeting for pastoral reflection and planning—a process he called “ecclesial globalization.”

“The globalization of the economy has promoted the world of business to cross that river,” Bishop PeÒa said. Similarly the Church must look beyond national borders to fulfill the mission of Christ to “go and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28, 19), he added.

To promote effective Catholic evangelization along the border, he said the region's bishops had established a Texas-Mexico Border Commission.

“We consider our border dioceses as twin Churches,” Bishop PeÒa said, “sharing pastoral projects, celebrations, and diocesan resources.”

Despite the miles that separate nations, he said America is becoming smaller every day.

“Globalization—economically, socially, and environmentally— challenges us to an ecclesial globalization if we are to respond to the signs of the times,” he said. “We can say that for the Church, there is no south or north, no First or Third Worlds, no border or frontier that divides us.”

—Stephen Banyra