Conferencias Episcopales
Medios Asociados
22 de Abril, 2015
Convenio CELAM y Notre Dame University


Detalles de la colaboración entre ambas instituciones

Como se anunció hace unas semanas, el Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM), representado por su Presidente, monseñor Carlos Aguiar Retes y por Eduardo Pisa, miembro del Consejo de Asuntos Económicos del CELAM, suscribió un convenio de colaboración académica, pastoral y administrativa con la Universidad de Notre Dame, de los Estados Unidos, la cual estuvo representada por su Presidente, el P. John I. Jenkins, CSC, por el P. Bill Lies, CSC y por Chuck Lamphier.

OSV Newsweekly, revela algunos detalles del histórico convenio. Compartimos a continuación el artículo escrito por Michelle Martins y publicado el pasado 8 de abril:


Notre Dame forms partnership with CELAM

University, Latin American Episcopal Council will collaborate on academic, pastoral initiatives

The University of Notre Dame and the Latin American episcopal council are embarking on a partnership aimed at broadening the understanding of the Catholic Church as a worldwide entity — one that will bring the university and the council together on a variety of academic, pastoral and administrative initiatives.

Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame president, and Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, president of the episcopal council, signed a memorandum of understanding about finding ways to collaborate in a March 24 ceremony held on the campus in South Bend, Indiana. The episcopal council, known as CELAM, represents the bishops’ conferences in 22 Latin American countries.

“One of the things we take seriously at Notre Dame is providing service to the Church in a manner appropriate for a university,” Father Jenkins said. “Many of our students and faculty members are eager to bring their learning to bear on the pastoral challenges and opportunities today present in Latin America. We’re grateful for the openness of the leaders of CELAM to this partnership.”

Archbishop Aguiar expressed gratitude to Notre Dame for “helping us to unify and strengthen the communities and organizations of the Church,” and said that such individual initiatives as this agreement were “like small streams of water which join other small streams until they become mighty torrents. Such torrents and currents give life to the whole ocean.”

At the ceremony, Father Jenkins said, “In the Catholic Church, international community and cooperation are crucially important. What binds us together is deeper than culture and language, and this agreement will help Notre Dame bond more closely with the cultures, communities and institutions of Latin America.”

‘Same goals’

CELAM and Notre Dame began exploring ways to work together last year when a group from CELAM visited the university, according to Chuck Lamphier, lead adviser to the vice president for mission engagement and Church affairs at the university. 

“It became clear that CELAM and Notre Dame had many of the same goals: to bring the highest level of research to bear on practical issues faced by millions of people; to create opportunities for learning; and to serve the Church while creating a more just world,” Lamphier said.

Eduardo Pisa, a member of CELAM’s economic advisory committee, said the group is hoping for three main areas of engagement, the first of which will likely be academics, with students and faculty from Latin America visiting Notre Dame and vice versa, he said.

CELAM already has its own study center that grants certificates and degrees, and working with CELAM will also help Notre Dame forge connections with institutions under CELAM’s member conferences, Pisa said. “The agreement doesn’t say exactly what we are going to do,” he said. “The agreement talks about starting a collaboration.”


International outreach

Peter Casarella, associate professor of theology at Notre Dame and a visiting researcher at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, agreed that this is just the beginning when it comes to the new memorandum of understanding.

“Nothing has been set in stone yet,” said Casarella, who will serve on the committee aimed at developing projects. “The first real planning meeting will take place in the late fall, although I am hoping to make an exploratory trip to Colombia before then. On the CELAM side, they have, for example, a large formation program with some degrees of its own and extensive partnerships. So when we meet we will be exploring links or modes of sharing.”

One possible link is the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Casarella said.

“Kellogg’s strengths in promoting human rights, democracy and integral human development can hopefully provide new synergies for CELAM’s work in these areas,” Casarella said. “In my area, formation, I also see great opportunities for collaboration. The department of theology has strengths in Latino theology and theology of migration, a new doctoral concentration in world religions/world church, and a joint program with the Kroc Institute in Peace Studies. The Caminos de la Fe online catechetical initiative in the Institute for Church Life may also afford us a platform for outreach. All in all, I see this new development as a wonderful chance for Notre Dame to broaden the international and intercultural dimensions of its academic work while also deepening its long-standing commitment to Catholic mission.”

Strong partners

While the new agreement is historic, Casarella said, it represents another strand in a web of engagement between Notre Dame and the Church in Latin America. “The agreement allows us to take a step forward in a new direction,” he said in an email. “First and foremost, it allows us to partner with 22 episcopal conferences with the hope of building up a single, unified ecclesial identity in America. The CELAM offices in Bogotá will also provide us with potential partnerships.”

Father Jenkins said this agreement fits with Notre Dame’s long-standing commitment to international engagement. “We believe that the world has much to offer Notre Dame, and that Notre Dame has much it can offer the world,” he said. “This partnership with the bishops of Latin America is one outgrowth of this conviction. ... Notre Dame’s identity as a Catholic university strengthens our commitment to internationalization.”

Pisa agreed that CELAM has much that it can teach Notre Dame, including allowing its faculty and students to learn about the theology of the Church in Latin America, as well as to see what CELAM and its member conferences are doing to address problems such as poverty and violence.

Holy Cross Father William Lies, vice president for mission engagement and Church affairs at Notre Dame, agreed.

“Since the middle of the 20th century, CELAM has been prophetic in its calls for peace, justice and evangelization,” he said. “Notre Dame is grateful for the opportunity to learn from the Church in Latin America’s experience, and [we are] hopeful that our faculty and students can contribute to the vibrancy of the Church there and across the globe.”

Part of the value of the agreement will come not with specific projects, but the opportunity to create ongoing relationships, Casarella said.

“While the agreement focuses on the areas of academics, social development, peace-building and institutional administration, it also creates a structure for regular communication and conversation between Notre Dame and CELAM in hopes of finding mutually beneficial ways to collaborate,” he said. “By formalizing a relationship which was already quite strong, we ensure that these two institutions will work together well into the future to address important issues of pastoral and social concern.”

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