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Legionary Bishop Says Future of Cancun is a Missionary Future
INTERNATIONAL | APOSTOLATE | NEWS
Interview with Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC, bishop of the Cancun-Chetumal prelature.

Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC in Paris
Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC

June 22, 2010. Paris, France. While passing through France, Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC, the bishop of the Cancun-Chetumal prelature, recently granted an interview to Christophoros magazine, which is the French-language newsletter for benefactors and friends of the Regnum Christi Movement. A translation of that interview is presented below.

Fr Henri Duc Maugé, LC: Your Excellency, you are a Legionary of Christ and the bishop of the Cancun prelature. Can you tell us where you are originally from and above all, how you became a bishop?

Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC: I am of Mexican nationality, and I was born in San José de Tolérance in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. I believe I am a bishop because the previous bishop just celebrated his 75th birthday! The Legion of Christ put me on the list of candidates proposed to succeed him. I learned that I had been named a bishop in October 2004 at the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara. Bishop Bernal, the bishop emeritus of Cancun, came looking for me to meet the Nuncio. He congratulated me for my nomination as his successor in the prelature. At first I thought that he was talking about someone else, and then I realized that I was completely stunned by this news and I wanted to gather myself in a chapel to really grasp what this nomination meant. But I didn’t find a quiet place to withdraw: thousands, almost a million people were at that Eucharistic Congress. I was not able to concentrate because of the noise of the Eucharistic procession, which lasted almost 5 hours.

Fr Henri Duc Maugé, LC: Bishop, what is a prelature?  What is the difference between it and a normal diocese? How does it work?

Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC: A prelature is an ecclesiastical district that does not yet have the
Chapelle à Cancun
One of the chapels built recently in Cancun.
age or maturity of a diocese. The prelature becomes a diocese when there are enough priests from the territory to take care of the population. This poses a problem, since the population of the Cancun-Chetumal prelature doubles every 10 years; it is a unique phenomenon in all the world, and there are just enough priests. Even if we had ordinations of priests from the region, they would still be too few in proportion to the Catholic population, and the prelature cannot become a diocese. The Legionaries of Christ and eight other congregations have thus settled in the prelature to encourage vocations and help the diocesan priests create seminaries and formation centers for the diocesan priests. If a prelature has all of the elements of a diocese in its organization, what distinguishes it is the origin of the priests.

Fr Henri Duc Maugé, LC: And in this prelature, what is the role of the Legion of Christ?

The main role of the Legion is the creation and direction of parishes. Today there are 47 parishes; when we first arrived, there were only 5. Founding parishes also involves building parish churches and their chapels. Today we have 347 chapels and are currently in the process of building 109 more. New communities and neighborhoods are rising up around Cancun and the Playa del Carmen area, and we take care of these new chapels where immigrant communities gather. We also have a missionary role in the Mayan communities, and we minister to the tourists, who are very numerous here: around 10 million each year. The Legionaries, who often speak several languages, have more facilities to take care of visitors who are passing through.

Fr Henri Duc Maugé, LC: This is also a territory with great disparities between the very poor and the very rich. How does the Church make herself present for these two universes which are almost incompatible?

It is true that in the Cancun region, there are very marked social, cultural, and economic differences. It is the region of the world where the gap between rich and poor is widest. In the hotels, the tourists live in luxury, while those who come to work live in difficult conditions and sometimes in great misery.

We are at the service of these two communities. As a bishop, I can go into a poor neighborhood, celebrate the Mass, bless the children and adults, participate in a patron saint feast, and then go to a 5-star hotel to celebrate a marriage. I make no difference between the two communities.

Fr Henri Duc Maugé, LC: What problems do the apostolate missions meet up with in your prelature?

The mix of very different cultures and social levels in the various zones—the Mayan zone, the urban zone, the more or less remote zones—is one problem.

But the
Chemin de croix au mexique
A view of the crowd during a Via Crucis in Cancun.
most serious and important difficulty is the demographic growth. The population doubles every 10 years. When we first came here 40 years ago, there were only 80,000 people, and about 80% of them were originally from the area. The others came from other regions or countries. It is difficult to speak of a true identity, since the most important challenge is an in-depth evangelization. Furthermore, in recent years we have also witnessed the proselytism and aggressiveness of sects coming from neighboring countries, especially the evangelical brothers.

In short, Cancun is a place where tourists come to relax and have fun in an atmosphere that is sometimes unhealthy. The youth and adolescents are attracted by frivolity, as shown by the media, internet, television, the movies, etc. The youth do not believe anymore; they do not practice the faith anymore.

Fr Henri Duc Maugé, LC: Last question: how do you see the human and spiritual future of your prelature?

The “official” future is to take the step of becoming a diocese. But it will take a much greater influx of priests. We need a major seminary and the parishes need to be more in the hands of diocesan priests from the region. Of course, the laity have their role in evangelization and in the development of this situation. For example, during Holy Week, 6,600 people went on missions: children, adolescents, adults. They are in the process of entering into a culture of mission and evangelization. The place of the laity in the church is not just to worship; they have a mission of evangelization and a role to play in formation, in education, in the spreading of the Catholic faith. The future of the prelature is thus a missionary future, with the participation of the laity.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2010-06-23


 
 

Related links

Catholic.net web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Challenge
ConQuest
Helping Hands Medical Missions


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