In the month of May, the Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI) met in Havana, Cuba, for their VI Asamblea General. This was a time of reflection as the CLAI faces the same challenges as any other religious groups face nowadays. Like any other – mainline Protestant – church, the CLAI has also seen its membership, economic resources and political influence throughout the Américas dwindle.
As a latinoamericano protestante, I feel a strong connection to the CLAI. It pains me to see that this organization, like my own faith tradition, is facing challenges that are at times out of our control. Yet, it also gives me hope to read about some of the prophetic decisions and calls to action that the delegates to the Asamblea approved. Among these decisions is the clear one calling the member churches to support a holistic approach to sexual and reproductive rights. (You can read the full text of the resolution, in Spanish, here: http://www.claiweb.org/vi%20asamblea/consenso%20de%20la%20habana.html)
The Hispanic culture and by extension our churches and faith communities have for centuries avoided talking openly about sexuality and reproductive rights. The reasons for this attitude are many and way beyond the scope of this blog. However, for those of us who have ministered among Hispanic and Latin@ people in the iglesia envangélica y protestante, the CLAI’s pronouncement is a breath of fresh air.
The CLAI’s pronouncement makes something very clear: the time has come to be prophetic, pastoral and visionary in the way in which sexuality and reproductive rights are talked about within our faith communities. Certainly, the approach that the CLAI has takes puts the iglesias evangélicas y protestantes at odds with the teachings of our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic faith tradition. Yet, I believe that to be honest about our understanding of ethical and moral issues helps in holding more sincere conversations, and foster better relationships among the different traditions that we represent. This sincerity and honesty will, hopefully, bring us closer together regardless of our theological differences.
I am extremely proud to belong to a tradition that, in spite of the challenges we face, is willing to be prophetic and pastoral. My prayer is that we can put these things that the CLAI encourages our churches to do into practice, and to continue building the familia de Dios we are called to build.
By Rev. J. Manny Santiago