IN THE DARK HOUR OF THE DAWN
Circular Letter 2003
Two years of the new 21st century have already passed and the world continues to be cruel and in solidarity, unjust and hopeful. There is still war and there is still empire, and empire has invented preventative war. The world is still divided into at least three: First, Third, and Fourth.
Hunger, poverty, corruption and violence have increased; but conscience, protest, organization, and the explicit will for alternatives have also increased.
That mystic stamp that Rahner prophesized for this new century appears, without a doubt, with many faces, in confusion and also in dialogue. Religions are more and more religious pluralism, and they will have to be living together and in interchange. Faith is refracted into a thousand names and a thousand searches, and faith lived together fraternally shall be the great support of human hope
God is in sight. The new Humanity is in sight.
There is a growing, incontrollable anxiety for change. In messages, forums and platforms the basic watchword is: «We want something else!» We want another World, because another World is possible, is necessary and urgent. One united World, without firsts or thirds, without empires and genocides, without bloody profits and without exasperating exclusions. Concretely here, we want another America without dominations and without alcas(*), in fraternal Union. We also want another Church, without «classes» without centralisms, without name-calling feuds.
In the world, this will for change is expressed symbolically in the World Social Forum and in the regional forums. In Our America, the most significant change now is called Lula, with a projection of hope for the whole Continent. In the Church the anxieties are converging in the proposal for a conciliar process, which will seem inopportune to certain involutional spirits, but which nevertheless in a truly ecclesial way interprets the will of the multitudes to be and to form another Church: more at the side of the poor of the Reign, more inculturated, more Samaritan, more synodal, more co-responsible, more fraternal. By no means is it inopportune to dream about a Vatican III, or about a Mexico I, or about a very Asian Bombay.
The truth is that we are tired of domination and lack of transparency in public spheres and in secret personal spheres. This our World, and this our small heart, apparently so evil, bear a profound charge of good will, of thirst for the Truth, of hunger for Life and for God. The signs of the times, in spite of so many anti-signs, are indeed rather luminous and hopeful. As the Sephardic proverb says: «The darkest hour is when it is about to become dawn».
In the Prelature of São Félix do Araguaia, our particular adolescent Church, we are also changing. This year I will be 75, and as canon law strictly requires, I will resign my charge as Bishop. In the last few months we have had a rather fruitful period of «transition» with regional Assemblies and the promulgation of a Manual on «objectives, attitudes and norms» as a reference and guide of our «caminhada» (walk, journey, way).
At this time, and with this brief circular letter, in the name of all the People of the Prelature and of the Pastoral Team, I wish to thank all the solidarity, cooperation, and presence, gratuitous and unconditional, of so many friends and institutions who have accompanied us and made possible our mission and its structure of service. In the very first place we evidently remember those pastoral agents here, men and women, who bore «the burden and heat of the day» and who supported me. The list of helpers and friends is too long to cite name by name. God holds them all written in the Book of Life. Some friends and entities have been accompanying us from the very first hour, and have accompanied us especially in times of repression and incomprehension. I know that these friends and these entities, all of you -vosotros, vosotras, ustedes- will continue to be friends, solidarity and presence for the Prelature of São Félix do Araguaia. We are all (todos/todas) homefolk, a family enterprise, a small but enthusiastic parcel of the Reign of God «between the Araguaia and the Xingu, the Pará and the Travessão».
Personally I feel like one waiting in line for a bus without knowing the exact time or place of immediate destination, but in any case knowing that in communion we will continue our humble human journey toward the paternal/maternal Home.
The Sephardic proverb speaks of the light of dawn; a universal proverb says that at the time of sunset no light dazzles. At this time I make mine some verses of «The Man of La Mancha» which speak expressively for me:
And at this time, as indeed at all times, very helpful is the motto
that the Little Sisters of Jesus recalled for us when they celebrated
their 50 years of presence in the Prelature among the Tapirapé
people: «Shout the Gospel with your life».
(*) ALCA is the Spanish acronym for the "Area of Free Trade of the Americas" which Casaldaliga uses in small letters and in the plural to signify organizations of that type.