Pope: Faith Is Latin America's No. 1 Resource
Celebrates Inaugural Mass of Aparecida Conference
APARECIDA, Brazil, MAY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).-
Latin America's primary treasure is its faith in God, Benedict XVI
said at the inaugural Mass of the general conference of the
More than 150,000 listened to the Pope's homily during the open-air
Mass celebrated today at the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, prior
to the opening session of the 5th General Conference of the
Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Bishops representing more than half the world's Catholics will meet
through the end of May. The theme of the assembly is "Disciples and
Missionaries of Jesus Christ, So That Our Peoples May Have Life in
The Holy Father said in his homily: "This is the priceless treasure
that is so abundant in Latin America, this is her most precious
inheritance: faith in the God who is love, who has shown us his face
in Jesus Christ."
Benedict XVI added that in his first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est,"
he "sought to point out to everyone the essence of the Christian
"The Church considers herself the disciple and missionary of this
love: missionary only insofar as she is a disciple, capable of being
attracted constantly and with renewed wonder by the God who has
loved us and who loves us first," he emphasized.
Speaking in a country that in recent years has seen the rapid
proliferation of some fundamentalist sects, the Bishop of Rome
wanted to make it clear that "the Church does not engage in
"Instead, she grows by 'attraction': Just as Christ 'draws all to
himself' by the power of his love, culminating in the sacrifice of
the Cross, so the Church fulfills her mission to the extent that, in
union with Christ, she accomplishes every one of her works in
spiritual and practical imitation of the love of her Lord," the Pope
Touching on a central theme of the episcopal meeting, Benedict XVI
said: "You believe in the God who is love: This is your strength,
which overcomes the world, the joy that nothing and no one can ever
take from you, the peace that Christ won for you by his Cross!
"This is the faith that has made America the 'continent of hope.'
"Not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic
system: Faith in the God who is love -- who took flesh, died and
rose in Jesus Christ -- is the authentic basis for this hope which
has brought forth such a magnificent harvest from the time of the
first evangelization until today."
At the end of his homily, Benedict XVI reiterated Pope John Paul
II's call for a new evangelization of the Americans.
The current Pope said: "I now confirm it with you, and in the words
of this fifth conference I say to you: Be faithful disciples, so as
to be courageous and effective missionaries."
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