Brazil Conference to Address Life and Faith Pope's Presence Will Deepen Communion, Prelate Says

APARECIDA, Brazil, MAY 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- When Benedict XVI travels to Brazil this week, his primary mission will be confirming believers in their faith in Christ, says the archbishop of Aparecida.

Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis told ZENIT: "The Holy Father is coming to deepen the communion between the bishops and the Successor of Peter. And also to deepen the communion between our bishops' conferences and the universal Church."

The Pope will open the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean next Sunday.

"The efficacy of the mission and work of the Church depends on the communion of the Church itself -- a communion that is moved by the Holy Spirit in the diversity of the gifts and charisms that he distributes in his Church," Archbishop Damasceno added.

The May 13-31 conference is set to highlight three issues: discipleship, mission and life.

A pro-life theme

The archbishop said, "When we speak about life we are not only talking about spiritual life, the supernatural life of grace lived in communion with the Holy Trinity, but we are also speaking about life in the natural sense, human [life]."

"This life," he added, "which is a gift from God, must be welcomed, respected and defended from its beginning to its natural end."

According to Archbishop Damasceno, a dignified life "presupposes everything that a person has a right to for a worthy life, such as education, work, health, a home and a just wage."

The prelate explained that the conference will outline the pastoral work and evangelization that needs to be done in the upcoming years.

"All bishops' conferences, after the general conference, will try to apply what they have learned to the directives for evangelization," he said. "The results from the conference have a strong influence in the concrete life of the Church on our continent."

The 70-year-old prelate explained: "We are gathering together as bishops of Latin America because we have the same problems and challenges. And that is why the answers are the same.

"We must be attentive and open to the will of God, to that which he wants to say through his Church that will gather together in Aparecida.

"The Church wants to be attentive to what God wants to say today to Latin America and to respond to the challenges before us."

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