By ZENIT Staff

“One day like today, July 25, 1955, the First General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate began in Rio di Janeiro”: with these words, the Presidency of CELAM informs of this anniversary that transformed the way of living as a Pilgrim Church in America, reported Fides News Agency.

“We thank God – reads the text – for the 65th anniversary of this Conference convened by Pope Pius XII, where it was decided to ask His Holiness for the creation of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), with the aim of studying the problems affecting the Church in Latin America, coordinating activities and preparing new Conferences of the Latin American Episcopate with the new challenges of changing times”.

From this moment on, CELAM has dealt with social problems, missions, indigenous peoples, the population of African origin, immigrants, seafarers, as well as the problem of the shortage of priests and, throughout its existence, is committed to promoting “processes of evangelization and ecclesial service” to spread faith and make it an integral part of the thought, customs, and institutions of the Continent.

Its action – explain the Bishops – was “particularly stimulated by the presence and message of the Holy Fathers Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis, who made their closeness and their guiding word felt in all the Countries of our continent”. “According to the Social Doctrine of the Church, CELAM is called to a threefold task: to illuminate, educate and act”.

Today CELAM provides contact, communion, formation, research, and reflection services to the 22 Episcopal Conferences that are located from Mexico to Cape Horn, including the Caribbean and the Antilles.

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