In preparation for the meeting and to meet the Pope's request, Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini circulated among the priests of the diocese of Rome a reflection on priestly identity in the light of the Aparecida Document presented by the then Cardinal Bergoglio during the Fifth Conference of Latin American Bishops.
In the paper, the then archbishop of Buenos Aires discussed how in Aparecida one became aware of changing times, “not in the many partial ways that anyone might find in the daily actions one performs, but rather in the meaning that gives unity to all that exists”.
“The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work. The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed. Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before”.
In the document, Bergoglio presents the mission as a proposal and challenge in the face of these changes, and encourages the pastor to be “an ardent missionary who lives the constant desire to seek out the remote, not content with simple administration”, and reiterates that “a transformation in pastoral action and a consequent transforming pastoral action can only occur when mediated by the interior transformation of the agents of pastoral care and the members of the community they form. … To become once again a Church driven by evangelical momentum and audacity, we must again become faithful and evangelised disciples”.