Short History of Basic Ecclesial Community

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The coming out of Basic Ecclesial Communities in any form in different parts of the world including the Philippines is undeniably a phenomenon of which our Church Leaders ought to accept and must face head-on. There is no turning back; the call for an “aggiornamento” (John XXIII 1962) inside and outside the Church is indispensable for the good of the people. The Philippine Church must transform to an emerging Church of the future, “the Church from the grassroots,” (John Burdick and W.E. Hewitt 2000) if genuine renewal is a serious agendum of every bishops throughout the archipelago in each of their ecclesiastical territory. They are now challenged to be more cognizant of and participative on this paradigm shift in the Church, which is totally tangible after the Second Vatican Council. Basic Ecclesial Community Globally

It was in the late 50’s when the Church through the leadership of Pope Pius XII was bothered by the subsisting pastoral context in Latin America. The Church was faced by a throng exodus of Catholics to Protestantism and socialist-inspired trade unionism. What was the response of the Church? The Church created a pastoral strategy namely:

(1) Form several small units of parishioners from a large parish;

(2) Ensure formation and participation in each block;

(3) Even if priests are in shortage Christianity remains vibrant (CELAM 1955).

It was first implemented in the Diocese of Barro do Pirai in Brazil in the late 50’s with the help of Don Angelo Rossi and the lay catechists of the diocese. In the early 60’s, it spreads like wild fire throughout the neighboring countries of Latin America. It was called “Communidades Christianas de Base” then “Communidades Ecclesiales de Base”. This moved was recognized by Conferencia Episcopal de Latina America (CELAM 1955) and replicated in other countries after the second Vatican Council. In the late 60’s it continued to exist even after the threat of Protestantism and Socialism had been...
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