|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
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
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.
|One of the chapels built recently in Cancun.|
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
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.
|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.