“Cardinal Lacunza has said that he feels it is his mission as bishop “to work among the poor, with the poorest, that is, the indigenous people of the Ngabe-Bugle region,” a people who “have been forgotten for years.” Upon receiving an honorary degree from a local university in 2012 for the work he had done, he called the degree “an undeserved recognition for a person with so many faults and errors.”‘
Also from the America interview…
Twice elected the President of Episcopal Conference in Panamá, Bishop Lacunza’s episcopal motto is from St. Augustine: “Praesumus si Presumus”—“We Lead if We Serve.”
How do you feel about being named Cardinal? How has your family reacted?
First, surprised: they neither consulted me, nor in my dreams did I ever imagine it. Second, still overwhelmed, not quite processing it. I imagine that when I arrive at the public consistory I will land in reality.
What do you hope for the Church today?
We who are living the Aparecida event [2007 meeting of bishops from Latin America and Caribbean] and who, in one way or another through CELAM [Conference of Catholic Bishops in Latin America and the Caribbean] have shared dreams and hopes for our church. We hope that the church will be faithful to the plan of Jesus: to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Therefore in the church, everyone and everything, people and structures must be seen and project themselves as missionaries in the style of Jesus: close, warm, compassionate. In the church, a Catholic that is not a missionary is a “contradiction in terms.”
What is one message you feel the Church should be offering to today’s world?
It must be like Jesus, a witness to the merciful love of the Father. That is our main contribution. We know that the world hopes and asks for the presence and the word of the church on many cultural, economic, social, political and environmental issues. And we cannot fail, but without forgetting that our fundamental word and our key witness is to make present the Good News: God loves us. Without that, we could be the most skilled, and we would not be the most qualified.