Closing assembly, Latin American church leaders call for inclusive church

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Nearly 1,000 church leaders -- lay and religious -- from Latin America and the Caribbean called for a more inclusive and synodal church, one that pays attention to people's realities, opens increased roles for women and excluded groups, combats clericalism and continues taking the Gospel to the peripheries of society.

Although bishops from the region had met in historic meetings five previous times, the Nov. 21-28 Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean was the first such meeting to include laity. The assembly drew approximately 100 in-person participants to Mexico City, but also included participation by another 900 people who tuned in virtually.

"It was a space for participation, a lot of diversity and a lot of listening ... which is a novelty," said Consolata Father Venanzio Mwangi Munyiri, coordinator of the Afro-Colombian ministry of the Archdiocese of Cali, Colombia. "Listening to the cries of each person, of the experiences, enriches the vision of the church on the continent and naturally also challenges the way we evangelize."

Participants in the ecclesial assembly said no final document signed by bishops would be released -- a reflection of the nature of the assembly.