XVI's visit to Brazil (May 2007)
On the Journey to Brazil
"The Church Must Mobilize All of
the Moral and Spiritual Energies"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general
audience in St. Peter's Square. The reflection focused on his recent
trip to Brazil.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters,
In this general audience I would like to reflect on my
recent apostolic journey to Brazil from May 9-14. After the first two
years of my pontificate, I finally had the joy of going to Latin
America, a place I love dearly and where a great number of the world's
The central destination of my journey was Brazil, but I
also extended my embrace to the entire Latin American continent because
the ecclesial event that called me there was the 5th General Conference
of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.
I wish to reiterate my profound gratitude for the welcome
I received from my dear brother bishops, in particular, those of
Paulo and Aparecida. I thank the president of Brazil and the other
civil authorities for their cordial and generous cooperation, with
great affection I thank the Brazilian people for the warmth with which
they welcomed me -- it was great and moving -- and for the attention
they paid to my words.
My journey was an act of praise to God for the "wonders"
he has done in the midst of the peoples of Latin America, for the faith
that has animated their lives and their culture for more than 500
years. It was also a pilgrimage, culminating at the sanctuary of Our
Lady of Aparecida, patroness of Brazil.
The theme of the relationship between faith and culture
was always in the hearts of my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John
Paul II. I also wished to take up this theme to confirm the Church in
Latin America and the Caribbean in their walk of faith that has been
and still is a living history -- as we see in popular piety, art, in
dialogue with the rich pre-Columbian traditions as well as numerous
European influences and influences from other continents.
A look back at a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows
that accompanied the work of evangelization of the Latin American
continent: It is impossible to forget the sufferings and injustices
inflicted by colonizers on the indigenous peoples, who often had their
basic human rights trampled on. But the very mention of these
unjustifiable crimes -- crimes that were condemned at the time by
missionaries such as Bartolomé de Las Casas and theologians such
Francisco de Vitoria of the University of Salamanca -- must not stop us
from expressing gratitude for the wonderful work carried out by divine
grace among those populations in these past five centuries.
Brazil is a great country that has deeply rooted Christian
values, but is experiencing enormous social and economic problems. To
help resolve these problems, the Church must mobilize all of the moral
and spiritual energies of its communities, to find points of
convergence with the healthy energies of the country.
Among the positive elements to point out are the
creativity and the fecundity of the Church there, from which many new
movements and institutes of consecrated life are born. No less worthy
of praise is the generous dedication of the many lay faithful, who show
themselves to be very active in the various initiatives promoted by the
Brazil is also a country that can offer the world a new
model of development: The Christian culture can facilitate a
"reconciliation" between men and creation, beginning with the recovery
of personal dignity in the relationship to God the Father.
An eloquent example of this is the "Fazenda da
a network of rehabilitation centers for young people who wish to come
out of the dark tunnel of drug abuse. At the one I visited, taking away
a profound impression that I will keep alive in my heart, I noticed the
importance of the presence of the Poor Clares.
This appeared symbolic for the world of today, which is in
need of a psychological and social "rehabilitation," but an even deeper
Also symbolic was the canonization, celebrated in joy, of
the first native Brazilian saint: Father Antonio de Sant'Ana
This Franciscan priest of the 18th century, devoted to the Blessed
Virgin, an apostle of the Eucharist and of confession, was called,
while living, "a man of peace and charity." His witness is yet another
confirmation that holiness is the true revolution, which can promote
the authentic reform of the Church and society.
In the cathedral of São Paulo, I met with the
bishops, the largest bishops' conference in the world. Conveying to
them the support of the Successor of Peter was one of the major goals
of my mission, because I know the great challenges that the
proclamation of the Gospel faces in that country.
I encouraged my brother bishops to promote and strengthen
the task of the new evangelization, exhorting them to develop in a
methodical way, the spreading of God's word, so that the innate and
widespread religiosity of populations can deepen and become a mature
faith, adhering personally and communally to the God of Jesus Christ.
I encouraged them to recover the style of life of the
first Christian community, described in the Acts of the Apostles:
dedicated to catechesis, the sacramental life and works of charity.
I know the dedication of these faithful servants of the
Gospel -- the Gospel they wish to present without reductions or
confusion, keeping watch over the deposit of faith with discernment;
and their constant goal of promoting social development mainly through
the formation of the laity, who are called to assume responsibility in
political and economic fields. I thank God for allowing me to deepen my
communion with the Brazilian bishops and I continue to remember them in
Another important moment of the journey was, without a
doubt, the meeting with young people; hope not only for the future, but
a vital force also for the present -- for the Church and for society.
This vigil, animated by them in São Paulo, was a festival of
illuminated by Christ's words to the "rich young man" who asked him:
"Master, what good must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16).
Jesus points out, above all, the commandments as the way
of life, and then invites him to leave everything to follow him. The
Church does the same thing today: First of all, it proposes the
commandments, the true education of freedom for personal and social
good; and, above all, it proposes the "first commandment," that of
love, because without love even the commandments cannot give full
meaning to life and procure true happiness.
Only the person who experiences the love of God in Christ
and places himself on this path to live it among humanity, becomes his
disciple and missionary. I invited the young people to be apostles of
their peers; and to therefore take great care of their own human and
spiritual formation; to have great esteem for marriage and the way that
leads to marriage, in chastity and responsibility; to be open to the
call to consecrated life for God's kingdom. To summarize, I encouraged
them to take advantage of the great "riches" of their youth, to be the
young face of the Church.
The high point of the journey was the inauguration of the
5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the
Caribbean, in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida. The theme for
this important meeting, which will continue until the end of the month,
is "Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so That Our People
Might Have Life in Him -- I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life."
"Disciples and missionaries" corresponds to what the
Gospel of Mark says concerning the call of the Apostles: "(Jesus)
called the twelve that were with him and sent them out to preach" (Mark
The word "disciple" recalls the aspects of formation and
following, in communion and friendship with Jesus; the term
"missionary" expresses the fruit of discipleship, that is, the witness
and communication of the lived experience, of the truth and love that
is known and assimilated.
To be disciples and missionaries implies a close link with
the Word of God, with the Eucharist and the other sacraments, living in
the Church, listening obediently to his teachings. Joyously renewing
the desire to be Jesus' disciples, to "stay with him," is the primary
condition for being his missionaries -- "beginning again with Christ,"
according to John Paul II's mandate to the Church after the Jubilee of
the Year 2000.
My venerated predecessor always insisted on an
evangelization that was "new in its ardor, its methods and its
expression," as he said when speaking to CELAM [the Latin American
bishops' council] on March 9, 1983, in Haiti (Insegnamenti VI/1 ,
With my apostolic journey, I wished to exhort them to
continue along this path, holding up the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est"
as a unified perspective, an inseparable social and theological
perspective, summarized in this expression: "It is love that gives
"God's presence, friendship with the Son of God incarnate,
the light of his Word, are always fundamental conditions for the
presence and efficacy of justice and love in our societies" (Inaugural
speech of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America
and the Caribbean, 4: L'Osservatore Romano, May 14-15, 2007, p. 14).
I entrust the fruits of this unforgettable apostolic
journey to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary who is
venerated as Our Lady of Guadalupe and patroness of all Latin America,
and to the new Brazilian saint, Father Antonio of Sant'Ana
[After the audience, the Pope greeted the people in
several languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My recent Pastoral Visit to Brazil embraced not only that
great nation but all Latin America and the Caribbean, home to many of
the world’s Catholics. My visit was above all a pilgrimage of praise to
God for the faith which has shaped their cultures for over five hundred
years. While we do not overlook the various injustices and sufferings
which accompanied colonization, the Gospel has expressed and continues
to express the identity of the peoples in this region and provides
inspiration to address the challenges of our globalized era. In the
Fazenda da Esperança, a network of centres for young people
from drug addiction, I saw a symbol of that spiritual "recovery" which
our world truly needs, a recovery of our dignity as God’s children and
a reconciled relationship with all creation. The canonization of
Brazil’s first native saint, Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana
us that holiness is the real "revolution" which brings about authentic
reform in Church and society. In Aparecida, I opened the Fifth General
Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is
addressing our need to be convinced "disciples and missionaries" of
Christ and his love. After my joyful meeting with the young people, I
am confident that they will be apostles to their contemporaries, use
their rich gifts in the service of the new evangelization and ensure a
future of hope for the Church in Brazil and in all Latin America.
I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims
here today, including members of the International Catholic Movement
for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, as well as the young artists
from Nairobi. I thank all of you for your prayers during my visit to
Brazil. May God bless you all!
"You Have a Part to Play in
Building Your Nations' Destiny"
APARECIDA, Brazil, MAY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before
reciting the Regina Caeli at the end of the inaugural Mass of the 5th
General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
With great affection I greet all of you who have come from
the four corners of Brazil, from Latin America and the Caribbean, as
well as those who are listening to me via radio and television. During
the celebration of Mass, I invoked the Holy Spirit, asking him to make
fruitful the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America
and the Caribbean, which I shall inaugurate shortly. I ask you all to
pray for the fruits of this great gathering, which opens up a future of
hope for the Latin American family. You have a part to play in building
your Nations' destiny. May God bless you and be with you!
I offer affectionate greetings to the Spanish-speaking
groups and communities present today, and to all those in Spain and
Latin America who are spiritually united with this celebration. May the
Virgin Mary help you to keep alive the flame of faith, love and
harmony, so that by the witness of your lives and by faithfulness to
your baptismal vocation, you may be light and hope for humanity. Let us
also pray that the celebration of this Fifth General Conference of the
Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean will bear many fruits of
authentic spiritual renewal and untiring evangelization. God bless you!
I warmly greet all the English-speaking groups present
today. Families stand at the heart of the Church's mission of
evangelization, for it is in the home that our life of faith is first
expressed and nurtured. Parents, you are the primary witnesses to your
children of the truths and values of our faith: pray with and for your
children; teach them by your example of fidelity and joy! Indeed, every
disciple, spurred on by word and strengthened by sacrament, is called
to mission. It is a duty from which no one should shy away, for nothing
is more beautiful than to know Christ and to make him known to others!
May Our Lady of Guadalupe be your model and guide. God bless you all!
Dear French-speaking families and groups, I greet with all
my heart those of you who live on the South American Continent,
especially in Haiti, in French Guiana and in the Antilles. May you
build, in cooperation with others, a more generous and fraternal
society, taking care to help young people discover the greatness of
Today is the
ninetieth anniversary of the apparitions of
Our Lady of Fatima. With their powerful call to conversion and penance,
they are without doubt the most prophetic of all modern apparitions.
Let us ask the Mother of the Church, who knows the sufferings and hopes
of humanity, to protect our homes and our communities.
In a special way we entrust to her those peoples and
nations that are in particular need, confident that she will not fail
to heed the prayers we make to her with filial devotion. I remember in
a special way those brothers and sisters who suffer from hunger. In
this regard I want to mention the "March against Hunger" promoted by
the World Food Programme, the United Nations agency responsible for
food assistance. This initiative is taking place today in many cities
worldwide, including Ribeirão Preto here in Brazil.
Our prayers are offered also for the Afro-Brazilian
community, who this Sunday are commemorating the abolition of slavery
in Brazil. May this celebration foster a renewed sense of missionary
outreach towards this highly significant socio-cultural group in the
Land of the Holy Cross.
I also extend my warm greetings, together with my sincere
gratitude, to all the groups and associations gathered here. May God
reward you and keep you firm in the faith.
Let us now proclaim with joy the hymn of our salvation.
Pope's Opening Address for
"Not Only the Continent of Hope, but Also the Continent of
APARECIDA, Brazil, MAY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the
opening session of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of
Latin America and the Caribbean.
* * *
Dear Brother Bishops, beloved priests, religious men and
women and laypeople,
Dear observers from other religious confessions:
It gives me great joy to be here today with you to
inaugurate the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America
and the Caribbean, which is being held close to the Shrine of Our Lady
of Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil. I would like to begin with words of
thanksgiving and praise to God for the great gift of the Christian
faith to the peoples of this Continent.
1. The Christian faith in Latin America
Faith in God has animated the life and culture of these
nations for more than five centuries. From the encounter between that
faith and the indigenous peoples, there has emerged the rich Christian
culture of this Continent, expressed in art, music, literature, and
above all, in the religious traditions and in the peoples’ whole way of
being, united as they are by a shared history and a shared creed that
give rise to a great underlying harmony, despite the diversity of
cultures and languages. At present, this same faith has some serious
challenges to address, because the harmonious development of society
and the Catholic identity of these peoples are in jeopardy. In this
regard, the Fifth General Conference is preparing to reflect upon this
situation, in order to help the Christian faithful to live their faith
with joy and coherence, to deepen their awareness of being disciples
and missionaries of Christ, sent by him into the world to proclaim and
to bear witness to our faith and love.
Yet what did the acceptance of the Christian faith mean
for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean? For them, it meant
knowing and welcoming Christ, the unknown God whom their ancestors were
seeking, without realizing it, in their rich religious traditions.
Christ is the Saviour for whom they were silently longing. It also
meant that they received, in the waters of Baptism, the divine life
that made them children of God by adoption; moreover, they received the
Holy Spirit who came to make their cultures fruitful, purifying them
and developing the numerous seeds that the incarnate Word had planted
in them, thereby guiding them along the paths of the Gospel. In effect,
the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point
involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the
imposition of a foreign culture. Authentic cultures are not closed in
upon themselves, nor are they set in stone at a particular point in
history, but they are open, or better still, they are seeking an
encounter with other cultures, hoping to reach universality through
encounter and dialogue with other ways of life and with elements that
can lead to a new synthesis, in which the diversity of expressions is
always respected as well as the diversity of their particular cultural
Ultimately, it is only the truth that can bring unity, and
the proof of this is love. That is why Christ, being in truth the
incarnate Logos, "love to the end", is not alien to any culture, nor to
any person; on the contrary, the response that he seeks in the heart of
cultures is what gives them their ultimate identity, uniting humanity
and at the same time respecting the wealth of diversity, opening people
everywhere to growth in genuine humanity, in authentic progress. The
Word of God, in becoming flesh in Jesus Christ, also became history and
The Utopia of going back to breathe life into the
pre-Columbus religions, separating them from Christ and from the
universal Church, would not be a step forward: indeed, it would be a
step back. In reality, it would be a retreat towards a stage in history
anchored in the past.
The wisdom of the indigenous peoples fortunately led them
to form a synthesis between their cultures and the Christian faith
which the missionaries were offering them. Hence the rich and profound
popular religiosity, in which we see the soul of the Latin American
-- love for the suffering Christ, the God of compassion,
pardon and reconciliation; the God who loved us to the point of handing
himself over for us;
-- love for the Lord present in the Eucharist, the
incarnate God, dead and risen in order to be the bread of life;
-- the God who is close to the poor and to those who
-- the profound devotion to the most holy Virgin of
Guadalupe, the Aparecida, the Virgin invoked under various national and
local titles. When the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to the native
Indian Saint Juan Diego, she spoke these important words to him: "Am I
not your mother? Are you not under my shadow and my gaze? Am I not the
source of your joy? Are you not sheltered underneath my mantle, under
the embrace of my arms?" (Nican Mopohua, Nos. 118-119).
This religiosity is also expressed in devotion to the
saints with their patronal feasts, in love for the Pope and the other
Pastors, and in love for the universal Church as the great family of
God, that neither can nor ever should leave her children alone or
destitute. All this forms the great mosaic of popular piety which is
the precious treasure of the Catholic Church in Latin America, and must
be protected, promoted and, when necessary, purified.
2. Continuity with the other Conferences
This Fifth General Conference is being celebrated in
continuity with the other four that preceded it: in Rio de Janeiro,
Medellín, Puebla and Santo Domingo. With the same spirit that
work there, the Bishops now wish to give a new impetus to
evangelization, so that these peoples may continue to grow and mature
in their faith in order to be the light of the world and witnesses to
Jesus Christ with their own lives.
After the Fourth General Conference, in Santo Domingo,
many changes took place in society. The Church which shares in the
achievements and the hopes, the sufferings and the joys of her
children, wishes to walk alongside them at this challenging time, so as
to inspire them always with hope and comfort (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," 1).
Today’s world experiences the phenomenon of globalization
as a network of relationships extending over the whole planet. Although
from certain points of view this benefits the great family of humanity,
and a sign of its profound aspiration towards unity, nevertheless it
also undoubtedly brings with it the risk of vast monopolies and of
treating profit as the supreme value. As in all areas of human
activity, globalization too must be led by ethics, placing everything
at the service of the human person, created in the image and likeness
In Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in other
regions, there has been notable progress towards democracy, although
there are grounds for concern in the face of authoritarian forms of
government and regimes wedded to certain ideologies that we thought had
been superseded, and which do not correspond to the Christian vision of
man and society as taught by the Social Doctrine of the Church. On the
other side of the coin, the liberal economy of some Latin American
countries must take account of equity, because of the ever increasing
sectors of society that find themselves oppressed by immense poverty or
even despoiled of their own natural resources.
In the ecclesial communities of Latin America there is a
notable degree of maturity in faith among the many active lay men and
women devoted to the Lord, and there are also many generous catechists,
many young people, new ecclesial movements and recently established
Institutes of consecrated life. Many Catholic educational, charitable
or housing initiatives have proved essential. Yet it is true that one
can detect a certain weakening of Christian life in society overall and
of participation in the life of the Catholic Church, due to secularism,
hedonism, indifferentism and proselytism by numerous sects, animist
religions and new pseudo-religious phenomena.
All of this constitutes a new situation which will be
analyzed here at Aparecida. Faced with new and difficult choices, the
faithful are looking to this Fifth Conference for renewal and
revitalization of their faith in Christ, our one Teacher and Saviour,
who has revealed to us the unique experience of the infinite love of
God the Father for mankind. From this source, new paths and creative
pastoral plans will be able to emerge, capable of instilling a firm
hope for living out the faith joyfully and responsibly, and thus
spreading it in one’s own surroundings.
3. Disciples and Missionaries
This General Conference has as its theme: "Disciples and
Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our peoples may have life in him
-- I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).
The Church has the great task of guarding and nourishing
the faith of the People of God, and reminding the faithful of this
Continent that, by virtue of their Baptism, they are called to be
disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ. This implies following him,
living in intimacy with him, imitating his example and bearing witness.
Every baptized person receives from Christ, like the Apostles, the
missionary mandate: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the
whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized, will be saved" (Mark
16:15). To be disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ and to seek
life "in him" presupposes being deeply rooted in him.
What does Christ actually give us? Why do we want to be
disciples of Christ? The answer is: because, in communion with him, we
hope to find life, the true life that is worthy of the name, and thus
we want to make him known to others, to communicate to them the gift
that we have found in him. But is it really so? Are we really convinced
that Christ is the way, the truth and the life?
In the face of the priority of faith in Christ and of life
"in him", formulated in the title of this Fifth Conference, a further
question could arise: could this priority not perhaps be a flight
towards emotionalism, towards religious individualism, an abandonment
of the urgent reality of the great economic, social and political
problems of Latin America and the world, and a flight from reality
towards a spiritual world?
As a first step, we can respond to this question with
another: what is this "reality"? What is real? Are only material goods,
social, economic and political problems "reality"? This was precisely
the great error of the dominant tendencies of the last century, a most
destructive error, as we can see from the results of both Marxist and
capitalist systems. They falsify the notion of reality by detaching it
from the foundational and decisive reality which is God. Anyone who
excludes God from his horizons falsifies the notion of "reality" and,
in consequence, can only end up in blind alleys or with recipes for
The first basic point to affirm, then, is the following:
only those who recognize God know reality and are able to respond to it
adequately and in a truly human manner. The truth of this thesis
becomes evident in the face of the collapse of all the systems that
Yet here a further question immediately arises: who knows
God? How can we know him? We cannot enter here into a complex
discussion of this fundamental issue. For a Christian, the nucleus of
the reply is simple: only God knows God, only his Son who is God from
God, true God, knows him. And he "who is nearest to the Father’s heart
has made him known" (John 1:18). Hence the unique and irreplaceable
importance of Christ for us, for humanity. If we do not know God in and
with Christ, all of reality is transformed into an indecipherable
enigma; there is no way, and without a way, there is neither life nor
God is the foundational reality, not a God who is merely
imagined or hypothetical, but God with a human face; he is God-with-us,
the God who loves even to the Cross. When the disciple arrives at an
understanding of this love of Christ "to the end", he cannot fail to
respond to this love with a similar love: "I will follow you wherever
you go" (Luke 9:57).
We can ask ourselves a further question: what does faith
in this God give us? The first response is: it gives us a family, the
universal family of God in the Catholic Church. Faith releases us from
the isolation of the "I", because it leads us to communion: the
encounter with God is, in itself and as such, an encounter with our
brothers and sisters, an act of convocation, of unification, of
responsibility towards the other and towards others. In this sense, the
preferential option for the poor is implicit in the Christological
faith in the God who became poor for us, so as to enrich us with his
poverty (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).
Yet before we consider what is entailed by the realism of
our faith in the God who became man, we must explore the question more
deeply: how can we truly know Christ so as to be able to follow him and
live with him, so as to find life in him and to communicate that life
to others, to society and to the world? First and foremost, Christ
makes his person, his life and his teaching known to us through the
word of God. At the beginning of this new phase that the missionary
Church of Latin America and the Caribbean is preparing to enter,
starting with this Fifth General Conference in Aparecida, an
indispensable pre-condition is profound knowledge of the word of God.
To achieve this, we must train people to read and meditate
on the word of God: this must become their staple diet, so that,
through their own experience, the faithful will see that the words of
Jesus are spirit and life (cf. John 6:63). Otherwise, how could they
proclaim a message whose content and spirit they do not know
thoroughly? We must build our missionary commitment and the whole of
our lives on the rock of the word of God. For this reason, I encourage
the Bishops to strive to make it known.
An important way of introducing the People of God to the
mystery of Christ is through catechesis. Here, the message of Christ is
transmitted in a simple and substantial form. It is therefore necessary
to intensify the catechesis and the faith formation not only of
children but also of young people and adults. Mature reflection on
faith is a light for the path of life and a source of strength for
witnessing to Christ. Most valuable tools with which to achieve this
are the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its abridged version, the
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In this area, we must not limit ourselves solely to
homilies, lectures, Bible courses or theology courses, but we must have
recourse also to the communications media: press, radio and television,
websites, forums and many other methods for effectively communicating
the message of Christ to a large number of people.
In this effort to come to know the message of Christ and
to make it a guide for our own lives, we must remember that
evangelization has always developed alongside the promotion of the
human person and authentic Christian liberation. "Love of God and love
of neighbour have become one; in the least of the brethren we find
Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God" (Encyclical Letter "Deus
Caritas Est," 15). For the same reason, there will also need to be
social catechesis and a sufficient formation in the social teaching of
the Church, for which a very useful tool is the Compendium of the
Social Doctrine of the Church. The Christian life is not expressed
solely in personal virtues, but also in social and political virtues.
The disciple, founded in this way upon the rock of God’s
word, feels driven to bring the Good News of salvation to his brothers
and sisters. Discipleship and mission are like the two sides of a
single coin: when the disciple is in love with Christ, he cannot stop
proclaiming to the world that only in him do we find salvation (cf.
Acts 4:12). In effect, the disciple knows that without Christ there is
no light, no hope, no love, no future.
4. "So that in him they may have life"
The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean have the
right to a full life, proper to the children of God, under conditions
that are more human: free from the threat of hunger and from every form
of violence. For these peoples, their Bishops must promote a culture of
life which can permit, in the words of my predecessor Paul VI, "the
passage from misery towards the possession of necessities … the
acquisition of culture … cooperation for the common good … the
acknowledgement by man of supreme values, and of God, their source and
their finality" ("Populorum Progressio," 21).
In this context I am pleased to recall the Encyclical
"Populorum Progressio," the fortieth anniversary of which we celebrate
this year. This Papal document emphasizes that authentic development
must be integral, that is, directed to the promotion of the whole
person and of all people (cf. No. 14), and it invites all to overcome
grave social inequalities and the enormous differences in access to
goods. These peoples are yearning, above all, for the fullness of life
that Christ brought us: "I came that they may have life, and have it
abundantly" (John 10:10). With this divine life, human existence is
likewise developed to the full, in its personal, family, social and
In order to form the disciple and sustain the missionary
in his great task, the Church offers him, in addition to the bread of
the word, the bread of the Eucharist. In this regard, we find
inspiration and illumination in the passage from the Gospel about the
disciples on the road to Emmaus. When they sit at table and receive
from Jesus Christ the bread that has been blessed and broken, their
eyes are opened and they discover the face of the Risen Lord, they feel
in their hearts that everything he said and did was the truth, and that
the redemption of the world has already begun to unfold. Every Sunday
and every Eucharist is a personal encounter with Christ. Listening to
God’s word, our hearts burn because it is he who is explaining and
proclaiming it. When we break the bread at the Eucharist, it is he whom
we receive personally. The Eucharist is indispensable nourishment for
the life of the disciple and missionary of Christ.
Sunday Mass, Centre of Christian life
Hence the need to give priority in pastoral programmes to
appreciation of the importance of Sunday Mass. We must motivate
Christians to take an active part in it, and if possible, to bring
their families, which is even better. The participation of parents with
their children at Sunday Mass is an effective way of teaching the faith
and it is a close bond that maintains their unity with one another.
Sunday, throughout the Church’s life, has been the privileged moment of
the community’s encounter with the risen Lord.
Christians should be aware that they are not following a
character from past history, but the living Christ, present in the
today and the now of their lives. He is the living one who walks
alongside us, revealing to us the meaning of events, of suffering and
death, of rejoicing and feasting, entering our homes and remaining
there, feeding us with the bread that gives life. For this reason
Sunday Mass must be the centre of Christian life.
The encounter with Christ in the Eucharist calls forth a
commitment to evangelization and an impulse towards solidarity; it
awakens in the Christian a strong desire to proclaim the Gospel and to
bear witness to it in the world so as to build a more just and humane
society. From the Eucharist, in the course of the centuries, an immense
wealth of charity has sprung forth, of sharing in the difficulties of
others, of love and of justice. Only from the Eucharist will the
civilization of love spring forth which will transform Latin America
and the Caribbean, making them not only the Continent of Hope, but also
the Continent of Love!
Social and Political problems
Having arrived at this point, we can ask ourselves a
question: how can the Church contribute to the solution of urgent
social and political problems, and respond to the great challenge of
poverty and destitution? The problems of Latin America and the
Caribbean, like those of today’s world, are multifaceted and complex,
and they cannot be dealt with through generic programmes. Undoubtedly,
the fundamental question about the way that the Church, illuminated by
faith in Christ, should react to these challenges, is one that concerns
us all. In this context, we inevitably speak of the problem of
structures, especially those which create injustice. In truth, just
structures are a condition without which a just order in society is not
possible. But how do they arise? How do they function? Both capitalism
and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just
structures, and they declared that these, once established, would
function by themselves; they declared that not only would they have no
need of any prior individual morality, but that they would promote a
communal morality. And this ideological promise has been proved false.
The facts have clearly demonstrated it. The Marxist system, where it
found its way into government, not only left a sad heritage of economic
and ecological destruction, but also a painful destruction of the human
spirit. And we can also see the same thing happening in the West, where
the distance between rich and poor is growing constantly, and giving
rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs,
alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness.
Just structures are, as I have said, an indispensable
condition for a just society, but they neither arise nor function
without a moral consensus in society on fundamental values, and on the
need to live these values with the necessary sacrifices, even if this
goes against personal interest.
Where God is absent -- God with the human face of Jesus
Christ -- these values fail to show themselves with their full force,
nor does a consensus arise concerning them. I do not mean that
non-believers cannot live a lofty and exemplary morality; I am only
saying that a society in which God is absent will not find the
necessary consensus on moral values or the strength to live according
to the model of these values, even when they are in conflict with
On the other hand, just structures must be sought and
elaborated in the light of fundamental values, with the full engagement
of political, economic and social reasoning. They are a question of
recta ratio and they do not arise from ideologies nor from their
premises. Certainly there exists a great wealth of political experience
and expertise on social and economic problems that can highlight the
fundamental elements of a just state and the paths that must be
avoided. But in different cultural and political situations, amid
constant developments in technology and changes in the historical
reality of the world, adequate answers must be sought in a rational
manner, and a consensus must be created -- with the necessary
commitments -- on the structures that must be established.
This political task is not the immediate competence of the
Church. Respect for a healthy secularity -- including the pluralism of
political opinions -- is essential in the authentic Christian
tradition. If the Church were to start transforming herself into a
directly political subject, she would do less, not more, for the poor
and for justice, because she would lose her independence and her moral
authority, identifying herself with a single political path and with
debatable partisan positions. The Church is the advocate of justice and
of the poor, precisely because she does not identify with politicians
nor with partisan interests. Only by remaining independent can she
teach the great criteria and inalienable values, guide consciences and
offer a life choice that goes beyond the political sphere. To form
consciences, to be the advocate of justice and truth, to educate in
individual and political virtues: that is the fundamental vocation of
the Church in this area. And lay Catholics must be aware of their
responsibilities in public life; they must be present in the formation
of the necessary consensus and in opposition to injustice.
Just structures will never be complete in a definitive
way. As history continues to evolve, they must be constantly renewed
and updated; they must always be imbued with a political and humane
ethos -- and we have to work hard to ensure its presence and
effectiveness. In other words, the presence of God, friendship with the
incarnate Son of God, the light of his word: these are always
fundamental conditions for the presence and efficacy of justice and
love in our societies.
This being a Continent of baptized Christians, it is time
to overcome the notable absence -- in the political sphere, in the
world of the media and in the universities -- of the voices and
initiatives of Catholic leaders with strong personalities and generous
dedication, who are coherent in their ethical and religious
convictions. The ecclesial movements have plenty of room here to remind
the laity of their responsibility and their mission to bring the light
of the Gospel into public life, into culture, economics and politics.
5. Other priority areas
In order to bring about this renewal of the Church that
has been entrusted to your care in these lands, let me draw your
attention to some areas that I consider priorities for this new phase.
The family, the "patrimony of humanity", constitutes one
of the most important treasures of Latin American countries. The family
was and is the school of faith, the training-ground for human and civil
values, the hearth in which human life is born and is generously and
responsibly welcomed. Undoubtedly, it is currently suffering a degree
of adversity caused by secularism and by ethical relativism, by
movements of population internally and externally, by poverty, by
social instability and by civil legislation opposed to marriage which,
by supporting contraception and abortion, is threatening the future of
In some families in Latin America there still
unfortunately persists a chauvinist mentality that ignores the
"newness" of Christianity, in which the equal dignity and
responsibility of women relative to men is acknowledged and affirmed.
The family is irreplaceable for the personal serenity it
provides and for the upbringing of children. Mothers who wish to
dedicate themselves fully to bringing up their children and to the
service of their family must enjoy conditions that make this possible,
and for this they have the right to count on the support of the State.
In effect, the role of the mother is fundamental for the future of
The father, for his part, has the duty to be a true
father, fulfilling his indispensable responsibility and cooperating in
bringing up the children. The children, for their integral growth, have
a right to be able to count on their father and mother, who take care
of them and accompany them on their way towards the fullness of life.
Consequently there has to be intense and vigorous pastoral care of
families. Moreover, it is indispensable to promote authentic family
policies corresponding to the rights of the family as an essential
subject in society. The family constitutes part of the good of peoples
and of the whole of humanity.
The first promoters of discipleship and mission are those
who have been called "to be with Jesus and to be sent out to preach"
(cf. Mark 3:14), that is, the priests. They must receive preferential
attention and paternal care from their Bishops, because they are the
primary instigators of authentic renewal of Christian life among the
People of God. I should like to offer them a word of paternal
affection, hoping that "the Lord will be their portion and cup" (cf.
Psalm 16:5). If the priest has God as the foundation and centre of his
life, he will experience the joy and the fruitfulness of his vocation.
The priest must be above all a "man of God" (1 Timothy 6:11) who knows
God directly, who has a profound personal friendship with Jesus, who
shares with others the same sentiments that Christ has (cf. Philippians
2:5). Only in this way will the priest be capable of leading men to
God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, and of being the representative of his
love. In order to accomplish his lofty task, the priest must have a
solid spiritual formation, and the whole of his life must be imbued
with faith, hope and charity. Like Jesus, he must be one who seeks,
through prayer, the face and the will of God, and he must be attentive
to his cultural and intellectual preparation.
Dear priests of this Continent, and those of you who have
come here to work as missionaries, the Pope accompanies you in your
pastoral work and wants you to be full of joy and hope; above all he
prays for you.
Religious men and women and consecrated persons
I now want to address the religious men and women and
consecrated members of the lay faithful. Latin American and Caribbean
society needs your witness: in a world that so often gives priority to
seeking well-being, wealth and pleasure as the goal of life, exalting
freedom to the point where it takes the place of the truth of man
created by God, you are witnesses that there is another meaningful way
to live; remind your brothers and sisters that the Kingdom of God has
already arrived; that justice and truth are possible if we open
ourselves to the loving presence of God our Father, of Christ our
brother and Lord, and of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter. With
generosity and with heroism, you must continue working to ensure that
society is ruled by love, justice, goodness, service and solidarity in
conformity with the charism of your founders. With profound joy,
embrace your consecration, which is an instrument of sanctification for
you and of redemption for your brothers and sisters.
The Church in Latin America thanks you for the great work
that you have accomplished over the centuries for the Gospel of Christ
in favour of your brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and most
deprived. I invite you always to work together with the Bishops and to
work in unity with them, since they are the ones responsible for
pastoral action. I exhort you also to sincere obedience towards the
authority of the Church. Set yourselves no other goal than holiness, as
you have learned from your founders.
The lay faithful
At this time when the Church of this Continent is
committing herself whole-heartedly to her missionary vocation, I remind
the lay faithful that they too are the Church, the assembly called
together by Christ so as to bring his witness to the whole world. All
baptized men and women must become aware that they have been configured
to Christ, the Priest, Prophet and Shepherd, by means of the common
priesthood of the People of God. They must consider themselves jointly
responsible for building society according to the criteria of the
Gospel, with enthusiasm and boldness, in communion with their Pastors.
There are many of you here who belong to ecclesial
movements, in which we can see signs of the varied presence and
sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in today’s
society. You are called to bring to the world the testimony of Jesus
Christ, and to be a leaven of God’s love among others.
Young people and pastoral care of vocations
In Latin America the majority of the population is made up
of young people. In this regard, we must remind them that their
vocation is to be Christ’s friends, his disciples. Young people are not
afraid of sacrifice, but of a meaningless life. They are sensitive to
Christ’s call inviting them to follow him. They can respond to that
call as priests, as consecrated men and women, or as fathers and
mothers of families, totally dedicated to serving their brothers and
sisters with all their time and capacity for dedication: with their
whole lives. Young people must treat life as a continual discovery,
never allowing themselves to be ensnared by current fashions or
mentalities, but proceeding with a profound curiosity over the meaning
of life and the mystery of God, the Creator and Father, and his Son,
our Redeemer, within the human family. They must also commit themselves
to a constant renewal of the world in the light of the Gospel. More
still, they must oppose the facile illusions of instant happiness and
the deceptive paradise offered by drugs, pleasure, and alcohol, and
they must oppose every form of violence.
6. "Stay with us"
The deliberations of this Fifth General Conference lead us
to make the plea of the disciples on the road to Emmaus our own: "Stay
with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent" (Luke
Stay with us, Lord, keep us company, even though we have
not always recognized you. Stay with us, because all around us the
shadows are deepening, and you are the Light; discouragement is eating
its way into our hearts: make them burn with the certainty of Easter.
We are tired of the journey, but you comfort us in the breaking of
bread, so that we are able to proclaim to our brothers and sisters that
you have truly risen and have entrusted us with the mission of being
witnesses of your resurrection.
Stay with us, Lord, when mists of doubt, weariness or
difficulty rise up around our Catholic faith; you are Truth itself, you
are the one who reveals the Father to us: enlighten our minds with your
word, and help us to experience the beauty of believing in you.
Remain in our families, enlighten them in their doubts,
sustain them in their difficulties, console them in their sufferings
and in their daily labours, when around them shadows build up which
threaten their unity and their natural identity. You are Life itself:
remain in our homes, so that they may continue to be nests where human
life is generously born, where life is welcomed, loved and respected
from conception to natural death.
Remain, Lord, with those in our societies who are most
vulnerable; remain with the poor and the lowly, with indigenous peoples
and Afro-Americans, who have not always found space and support to
express the richness of their culture and the wisdom of their identity.
Remain, Lord, with our children and with our young people, who are the
hope and the treasure of our Continent, protect them from so many
snares that attack their innocence and their legitimate hopes. O Good
Shepherd, remain with our elderly and with our sick. Strengthen them
all in faith, so that they may be your disciples and missionaries!
As I conclude my stay among you, I wish to invoke the
protection of the Mother of God and Mother of the Church on you and on
the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean. I beseech Our Lady in
particular, under the title of Guadalupe, Patroness of America, and
under the title of Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil, to accompany you in
your exciting and demanding pastoral task. To her I entrust the People
of God at this stage of the third Christian millennium. I also ask her
to guide the deliberations and reflections of this General Conference
and I ask her to bless with copious gifts the beloved peoples of this
Pope's Address to "Fazenda
"You Must Be Ambassadors of Hope"
GUARATINGUETA, Brazil, MAY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is
a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave during his visit
Saturday to "Fazenda da Esperança" in Guaratingueta, a
center for youth with drug addictions.
* * *
At last I am here with you at "Fazenda da Esperança
1. I greet with particular affection Brother Hans Stapel,
founder of the charity "Nossa Senhora da Glória", which is also
as "Fazenda da Esperança ". Firstly I wish to rejoice with each
for having believed in the ideals of good and of peace which define
To all of you who have come here today from the various
"fazendas" to be with the Pope -- those undergoing treatment and those
who have been cured, volunteers, families, those who have already been
through the programme, and benefactors -- I wish to say: "pax et bonum!"
I know that there are representatives here from other
places where the "Fazenda da Esperança " has opened centres. You
come to see the Pope. You have come to listen and to assimilate what I
wish to say to you.
2. The Church of today needs a renewed awareness of its
task to draw the world's attention to the voice of him who says: "I am
the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). It is the Pope's mission
to renew in the hearts of people everywhere that light which does not
grow dim, because it seeks to illumine the depths of every soul that
seeks the true good and peace that the world cannot give. All that this
light needs is a heart open to the desire for God. God does not force
us, he does not oppress our individual freedom; he simply asks for
openness in the inner sanctum of our conscience, through which pass all
our noblest aspirations, as well as the affections and disordered
passions which tend to obscure the message of the Almighty.
3. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears
my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him,
and he with me" (Revelation 3:20). These are divine words which
penetrate to the depths of our souls and shake us at our deepest roots.
At some stage in people's lives, Jesus comes and gently
knocks at the hearts of those properly disposed. Perhaps for you, he
did this through a friend or a priest, or, who knows, perhaps he
arranged a series of coincidences which enabled you to realize that you
are loved by God. Through the institution which has welcomed you, the
Lord has given you this opportunity for physical and spiritual
recovery, so vital for you and your families. In turn, society expects
you to spread this precious gift of health among your friends and all
the members of the community.
You must be Ambassadors of hope! Brazil's statistics
concerning drug abuse and other forms of chemical dependency are very
high. The same is true of Latin America in general. I therefore urge
the drug-dealers to reflect on the grave harm they are inflicting on
countless young people and on adults from every level of society: God
will call you to account for your deeds. Human dignity cannot be
trampled upon in this way. The harm done will receive the same censure
that Jesus reserved for those who gave scandal to the "little ones",
the favourites of God (cf. Matthew 18:7-10).
4. Through treatment, which includes medical,
psychological and educational assistance, and through much prayer,
manual work and discipline, many people -- especially young people --
have already succeeded in freeing themselves from alcohol and drug
dependency, thereby recovering meaning in their lives.
I wish to express my appreciation for this work, which has
the charism of Saint Francis and the spirituality of the Focolare
Movement as its spiritual foundation.
Reintegration in society undoubtedly demonstrates the
effectiveness of your initiative. Yet it is the conversions, the
rediscovery of God and active participation in the life of the Church
which attract even greater attention and which confirm the importance
of your work. It is not enough to care for the body, we must adorn the
soul with the most precious divine gifts acquired through Baptism.
Let us thank God for all those who have set out along the
path of renewed hope, with the help of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
and the celebration of the Eucharist.
5. Dear friends, I cannot let this opportunity pass
without thanking all those who contribute materially and spiritually to
enable the charity "Nossa Senhora da Glória" to continue its
God bless Brother Hans Stapel and Nelson Giovanelli Ros for having
answered his call to devote their lives to you. I ask the Lord also to
bless all those who work here: the consecrated men and women, and the
volunteers. We ask God's special blessing too on all those friends,
support groups and authorities who supply your needs, and on all those
who love Christ present in these beloved children of his.
My thoughts turn now to those many other institutions
throughout the world which work to rebuild and renew the lives of these
brothers and sisters of ours present in our midst, whom God loves with
a preferential love. I am thinking of groups such as Alcoholics
Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as well as the sobriety associations
working generously in many communities so as to build up the lives of
6. The proximity of the Shrine of Aparecida assures us
that the "Fazenda da Esperança " came into being under her
and maternal gaze. For a long time now, in my prayers, I have been
asking Our Lady, Queen and Patron of Brazil, to extend her protective
mantle over the participants in the Fifth General Conference of the
Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. Your presence here provides
a considerable help for the success of this great gathering; offer your
prayers, sacrifices, and renunciations on the altar of the Chapel, in
the certainty that they will rise up to heaven in the Holy Sacrifice of
the Mass as a fragrant offering to Almighty God. I am counting on your
help! May Saint Frei Galvão and Saint Crescentia keep watch over
and protect each one of you. I bless you all in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Benedict XVI's Greeting to
"Proclaim the Message of Love That Conquers Sorrow"
GUARATINGUETA, Brazil, MAY 13, 2007- Here is a Vatican
translation of Benedict XVI's greetings to the Poor Clares during his
visit Saturday to "Fazenda da Esperança " in
* * *
Be praised, my Lord, for all your creatures! -- With these
words, addressed to the Almighty and Good Lord, the Poor Saint of
Assisi acknowledged the unique bounty of God the Creator, and the
tenderness, strength and beauty that gently flows out upon all his
creatures, making them mirrors of the Creator's omnipotence.
Dear Sisters, spiritual daughters of Saint Clare, our
gathering here in this "Fazenda da Esperança " is meant to be a
the affection of the Successor of Peter towards the cloistered Sisters,
and also a serene manifestation of love, echoing through the hills and
valleys of the Mantiqueira mountain-range and spreading throughout the
whole land: "No speech, no word, no voice is heard; yet their span
extends through all the earth, their words to the utmost bounds of the
world" (Psalm 18:4-5). From this place, the daughters of Saint Clare
proclaim: "Be praised, my Lord, for all your creatures!"
In places where society no longer sees any future or hope,
Christians are called to proclaim the power of the Resurrection: it is
here, in this "Fazenda da Esperança " -- home to so many,
young people, who are seeking to overcome drug addiction, alcoholism,
and chemical dependency -- that a clear witness is given to the Gospel
of Christ amid a consumer society far removed from God. What a contrast
from the prospect of the Creator beholding his work! In their
contemplative lives, the Poor Clare Sisters and other cloistered
religious gaze upon the greatness of God and also discover the beauty
of his creation; hence they can picture him as the sacred author
indicates, caught up in wonder at his handiwork, his beloved creation:
"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very
good!" (Genesis 1:31).
When sin entered the world, and with sin, death, God's
beloved creation, though wounded, was not totally deprived of beauty:
on the contrary, a still greater love was received: "O happy fault,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!" -- as the Church proclaims in
the Exsultet during the mysterious and radiant night of Easter. It is
the risen Christ who heals the wounds and saves the sons and daughters
of God, saves humanity from death, from sin and from slavery to
passions. The Passover of Christ unites heaven and earth. In this
"Fazenda da Esperança ", the prayers of the Poor Clare Sisters
united with the demanding work of medicine and therapy in order to
vanquish the prisons and break the chains of drugs that bring so much
suffering to God's beloved children.
In this way God's creation is restored to the beauty that
so delights and amazes its Creator. He is the Almighty Father, it is he
alone whose essence is love and whose glory is man fully alive, in the
expression of Saint Irenaeus. He "so loved the world that he gave his
only Son" (John 3:16), in order to raise up the one who had fallen
along the roadside, attacked and wounded by thieves on the way from
Jerusalem to Jericho. On the pathways of the world, Jesus is "the hand"
that the Father stretches out to sinners; he is the way that leads to
peace (cf. Second Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation). Truly we
discover here that the beauty of creation and the love of God are
inseparable. Francis and Clare of Assisi also discover this secret and
they propose to their beloved sons and daughters one very simple thing:
to live the Gospel. This is their norm of conduct and their rule of
life. Clare expressed it very well when she said to her sisters: "Among
yourselves, my daughters, let there be the same love with which Christ
has loved you" (Testament).
In this same love, Brother Hans invited them to be the
guarantors of all the work carried out in the "Fazenda da
Through the strength of silent prayer, through fasting and penance, the
daughters of Saint Clare live out the commandment of love for God and
neighbour in its supreme form, loving to the end.
This means that we must never lose hope! Hence the name
given to this work by Brother Hans: "Fazenda da Esperança ". We
build up hope, weaving the fabric of a society that, by relaxing its
grip on the threads of life, is losing the true sense of hope. This
loss, according to Saint Paul, is the self-imposed curse of "heartless
persons" (cf. Romans 1:31).
My dear Sisters, make it your task to proclaim that "hope
does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5). May the sorrow of the Crucified
Lord, which filled Mary's soul at the foot of the Cross, console the
hearts of many mothers and fathers who weep with sorrow because of
their children's continuing dependency on drugs. By your silent
prayerful self-offering, an eloquent silence that the Father hears,
proclaim the message of love that conquers sorrow, drugs and death.
Proclaim Jesus Christ, a human being like us, who suffers like
ourselves, who took our sins upon himself in order to deliver us from
Soon we shall begin the Fifth General Conference of the
Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Shrine of
Aparecida, so close to the "Fazenda da Esperança ". I trust in
prayers, that our peoples may have life in Jesus Christ and that we may
all be his disciples and missionaries. I implore Mary, the Mother
Aparecida, the Virgin of Nazareth who, in following Christ, kept all
these things in her heart, to keep you in the fruitful silence of
To all cloistered Sisters, especially to the Poor Clares
present in this institution, I impart my blessing with great affection.
Pope's Address at Rosary
"Remain in the School of Mary"
APARECIDA, Brazil, MAY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday evening
at the Shrine of Our Lady of Conceição Aparecida, after
rosary with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons of Brazil and
the delegates of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin
America and the Caribbean.
* * *
My Venerable Brothers in the College of Cardinals, in the
Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Beloved Religious and all of you who have lovingly
followed Christ in response to sound of his voice,
Dear Seminarians, preparing for the priestly ministry,
Dear Members of Ecclesial Movements and all you lay people
who bring the power of the Gospel into the world of work and culture,
in the heart of your families and your parishes!
1. Just as the Apostles, together with Mary, "went up to
the upper room" and there, "with one accord devoted themselves to
prayer" (Acts 1:13-14), so too we are gathered here today at the Shrine
of Our Lady of Aparecida, which at this time is our "upper room" where
Mary, Mother of the Lord, is in our midst. Today it is she who leads
our meditation; it is she who teaches us to pray. It is she who shows
us the way to open our minds and hearts to the power of the Holy
Spirit, who comes to fill the whole world.
We have just prayed the rosary. Through these sequences of
meditations, the divine Comforter seeks to initiate us in the knowledge
of Christ that issues forth from the clear source of the Gospel text.
For her part, the Church of the third millennium proposes to offer
Christians the capacity for "knowledge -- according to the words of
Saint Paul -- of God's mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3). Mary Most Holy,
the pure and immaculate Virgin, is for us a school of faith destined to
guide us and give us strength on the path that leads us to the Creator
of Heaven and Earth. The Pope has come to Aparecida with great joy so
as to say to you first of all: "Remain in the school of Mary." Take
inspiration from her teachings, seek to welcome and to preserve in your
hearts the enlightenment that she, by divine mandate, sends you from on
How beautiful it is to be gathered here in the name of
Christ, in faith, in fraternity, in joy, in peace and in prayer,
together with "Mary, the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1:14). How beautiful it
is, my dear Priests, Deacons, Consecrated men and women, Seminarians
and Christian families, to be here in the National Shrine of Our Lady
of Aparecida, which is God's Dwelling-place, the House of Mary and the
House of the Brothers; and in the coming days it is also to serve as
the setting for the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin
America and the Caribbean. How beautiful it is to be here in this
Marian Basilica, towards which, at this time, the gaze and the hopes of
the Christian world are turned, especially for the Christians of Latin
America and the Caribbean!
2. I am glad to be here with you, in your midst! The Pope
loves you! The Pope greets you affectionately! He is praying for you!
And he implores the Lord's choicest blessings upon the Movements,
Associations and new ecclesial realities, a living expression of the
perennial youth of the Church! Be truly blessed! From here I address my
truly affectionate greeting to the families who are gathered here to
represent all the dearly beloved Christian families present throughout
the world. I rejoice especially with you and I offer you an embrace of
I am grateful for the welcome and the hospitality of the
Brazilian people. Ever since my arrival I have been received with great
affection! The various manifestations of appreciation and the greetings
show how much you love, esteem and respect the Successor of the Apostle
Peter. My Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, mentioned on
numerous occasions your affability and your spirit of fraternal
welcome. He was completely right!
3. I greet the dear priests who are present, and I keep in
my thoughts and prayers all the priests spread throughout the world,
especially those in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the
Fidei donum priests. What great challenges, what difficult situations
you have to face, with such generosity, self-denial, sacrifices and
renunciations! Your faithfulness in the exercise of the ministry and
the life of prayer, your search for holiness, your total self-giving to
God at the service of your brothers and sisters, as you expend your
lives and energy in order to promote justice, fraternity, solidarity
and sharing -- all this speaks powerfully to my pastoral heart. The
witness of a priestly life well lived brings nobility to the Church,
calls forth admiration among the faithful, and is a source of blessings
for the community; it is the best way to promote vocations, the most
authentic invitation to other young people to respond positively to the
Lord's call. It is true collaboration in building the Kingdom of God!
I thank you sincerely and I encourage you to continue
living in a manner worthy of the vocation you have received. May the
missionary fervour, the passion for an increasingly contemporary
approach to evangelization, the authentic apostolic spirit and the zeal
for souls always be present in your lives! My affection, my prayers and
my thanks go also to the elderly and infirm priests. Your conformation
to Christ Suffering and Risen is the most fruitful apostolate. Many
4. Dear Deacons and Seminarians, you have a special place
in the Pope's heart, and so I extend to you too my most fraternal and
heartfelt greetings. Your exuberance, enthusiasm, idealism and
encouragement to face new challenges boldly serve to give the People of
God a renewed openness, make the faithful more dynamic and help the
community to grow, to progress, and to become more trusting, joyful and
optimistic. I thank you for the witness that you bear, working together
with your Bishops in the pastoral activities of your dioceses. Always
keep before your eyes the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who "came
not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for
many" (Matthew 20:28). Be like the first deacons of the Church: men of
good reputation, filled with the Holy Spirit, with wisdom and with
faith (cf. Acts 6:3-5). And you, seminarians, give thanks to God for
the call that he addresses to you. Remember that the Seminary is the
cradle of your vocation and the first place where you experience
communal life (cf. Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests, 32).
I ask you, with God's help, to be holy faithful and happy priests in
the service of the Church!
5. I now turn my gaze and my attention to you, dear
consecrated men and women, gathered here in the Shrine of the Mother,
Queen and Patron of the Brazilian people, and also to those who are
spread throughout the whole world.
Dear religious men and women, you are an offering, a
present, a divine gift that the Church has received from her Lord. I
give thanks to God for your lives and for the witness that you offer
the world of faithful love for God and for your brethren. This
unreserved, totally, definitive, unconditional and impassioned love is
manifested in silence, in contemplation, in prayer and in the most
varied activities that you undertake in your religious families, in
favour of humanity and especially of the poorest and most abandoned.
All this calls forth in the hearts of the young the desire to follow
Christ the Lord more closely and radically, and to offer their lives so
as to bear witness before the men and women of our day to the fact that
God is Love, and that it is worth allowing oneself to be conquered and
entranced in order to devote one's life exclusively to him (cf.
"Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata," 15).
Religious life in Brazil has always been important and has
had a key role in the work of evangelization, from the very beginnings
of the colonial era. Only yesterday, I had the great joy of presiding
at the eucharistic celebration which included the canonization of Saint
Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão, a Franciscan priest and
religious and the
first saint to have been born in Brazil. Alongside him, another
admirable witness to the consecrated life is Saint Pauline, foundress
of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. I could quote many
other examples. May all of them together serve as an incentive to you
to live out your total consecration. God bless you!
6. Today, on the eve of the opening of the Fifth General
Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, at which
it will be my pleasure to preside, I want to tell each of you how
important it is to maintain our sense of belonging to the Church, which
leads us to grow and to mature as brothers and sisters, children of the
one God and Father. My dear men and women of Latin America, I know that
you have a great thirst for God. I know that you follow the Lord Jesus
who said: "No one comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). The Pope
therefore wants to say to all of you: The Church is our home! This is
our home! In the Catholic Church we find all that is good, all that
gives grounds for security and consolation! Anyone who accepts Christ,
"the way, the truth and the life" in his totality, is assured of peace
and happiness, in this life and in the next! For this reason, the Pope
has come here to pray and to bear witness with you all: It is worth
being faithful, it is worth persevering in our faith! The coherence of
the faith also requires, however, a solid doctrinal and spiritual
formation, which thus contributes to building a more just, humane and
Christian society. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, together with
its abridged version published under the title of "Compendium", will be
of help here because of the clear notions it provides concerning our
faith. Let us ask straight away that the coming of the Holy Spirit may
be for all people like a new Pentecost, so that it may illumine our
hearts and our faith with the light that comes down from above.
7. It is with great hope that I turn to all of you
assembled here within this majestic Basilica, and to all who took part
in the Holy Rosary from outside, to invite you to become profoundly
missionary and to bring the Good News of the Gospel to every point of
the compass in Latin America and in the world.
Let us ask the Mother of God, Our Lady of Aparecida, to
protect the lives of all Christians. May she, who is the Star of
Evangelization, guide our steps along the path towards the heavenly
"Our Mother, protect the Brazilian and Latin American
family! Guard under your protective mantle the children of this beloved
land that welcomes us. As the Advocate with your Son Jesus, give to the
Brazilian people constant peace and full prosperity. Pour out upon our
brothers and sisters throughout Latin America a true missionary ardor,
to spread faith and hope, make the resounding plea that you uttered in
Fatima for the conversion of sinners become a reality that transforms
the life of our society, and as you intercede, from the Shrine of
Guadalupe, for the people of the Continent of Hope, bless its lands and
its homes. Amen."
XVI's Address to
"Become Messengers of Eternal
SÃO PAULO, Brazil, MAY 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to 400 Brazilian
bishops who gathered today in the Cathedral of São Paulo to pray
vespers with the Holy Father.
* * *
Dear Brother Bishops!
Although he was the Son of God, he learned obedience
through what he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the source
of eternal salvation to all who obey him." (cf. Hebrews 5:8-9).
1. The text we have just heard in the Lesson for Vespers
contains a profound teaching. Once again we realize that God's word is
living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword; it penetrates to
the depths of the soul and it grants solace and inspiration to his
faithful servants (cf. Hebrews 4:12).
I thank God for the opportunity to be with this
distinguished Episcopate, which presides over one of the largest
Catholic populations in the world. I greet you with a sense of deep
communion and sincere affection, well aware of your devotion to the
communities entrusted to your care. The warm reception given to me by
the Rector of the Catedral da Sé and by all present has made me
home in this great common House which is our Holy Mother, the Catholic
I extend a special greeting to the new Officers of the
National Conference of Brazilian Bishops and, with gratitude for the
kind words of its President, Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, I offer
prayerful good wishes for his work in deepening communion among the
Bishops and in promoting common pastoral activity in a territory of
2. With its traditional hospitality, Brazil is hosting the
participants in the Fifth Conference of Latin American Bishops. I
express my gratitude for the kind welcome given to its members, and my
deep appreciation for the prayers of the Brazilian people, particularly
their prayers for the success of the Bishops' meeting in Aparecida.
This meeting is a great ecclesial event and part of the
missionary outreach which Latin America needs to undertake, beginning
here -- on Brazilian soil. That is why I wished to speak first to you,
the Bishops of Brazil, evoking these words, so rich in content, from
the Letter to the Hebrews: Although he was Son, he learned obedience
through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source
of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:8-9). Filled with
meaning, these verses speak of God's compassion for us, as expressed in
the passion of his Son. They speak of Christ's obedience and his free,
conscious acceptance of the Father's plan, which appears most clearly
in his prayer on the Mount of Olives: "Not my will, but yours, be done"
(Luke 22:42). Jesus himself teaches us that the true way of salvation
lies in conforming our will to the will of God. This is what we pray
for in the third petition of the "Our Father": that God's will be done
on earth as it is in heaven, since wherever God's will reigns, there
the Kingdom of God is present. Jesus attracts us by his will, his
filial will, and so he leads us to salvation. By freely accepting the
will of God, in union with Jesus Christ, we open the world to God's
We Bishops have come together to manifest this central
truth, since we are directly bound to Christ, the Good Shepherd. The
mission entrusted to us as teachers of the faith consists in recalling,
in the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, that our Saviour "desires
all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1
Timothy 2:4). This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church: the
salvation of individual souls. For this reason the Father sent his Son,
and in the Lord's own words transmitted to us in the Gospel of Saint
John, "as the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (John 20:21).
Hence the mandate to preach the Gospel: "Go therefore and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I
have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the
age" (Matthew 28:19-20). These words are simple yet sublime; they speak
of our duty to proclaim the truth of the faith, the urgent need for the
sacramental life, and the promise of Christ's continual assistance to
his Church. These are fundamental realities: they speak of instructing
people in the faith and in Christian morality, and of celebrating the
sacraments. Wherever God and his will are unknown, wherever faith in
Jesus Christ and in his sacramental presence is lacking, the essential
element for the solution of pressing social and political problems is
also missing. Fidelity to the primacy of God and of his will, known and
lived in communion with Jesus Christ, is the essential gift that we
Bishops and priests must offer to our people (cf. "Populorum
3. Our ministry as Bishops thus impels us to discern God's
saving will and to devise a pastoral plan capable of training God's
People to recognize and embrace transcendent values, in fidelity to the
Lord and to the Gospel.
Certainly the present is a difficult time for the Church,
and many of her children are experiencing difficulty. Society is
experiencing moments of worrying disorientation. The sanctity of
marriage and the family are attacked with impunity, as concessions are
made to forms of pressure which have a harmful effect on legislative
processes; crimes against life are justified in the name of individual
freedom and rights; attacks are made on the dignity of the human
person; the plague of divorce and extra-marital unions is increasingly
widespread. Even more: when, within the Church herself, people start to
question the value of the priestly commitment as a total entrustment to
God through apostolic celibacy and as a total openness to the service
of souls, and preference is given to ideological, political and even
party issues, the structure of total consecration to God begins to lose
its deepest meaning. How can we not be deeply saddened by this? But be
confident: the Church is holy and imperishable (cf. Ephesians 5:27). As
Saint Augustine said: "The Church will be shaken if its foundation is
shaken; but will Christ be shaken? Since Christ cannot be shaken, the
Church will remain firmly established to the end of time"
("Enarrationes in Psalmos," 103,2,5: PL 37,1353).
A particular problem which you face as Pastors is surely
the issue of those Catholics who have abandoned the life of the Church.
It seems clear that the principal cause of this problem is to be found
in the lack of an evangelization completely centered on Christ and his
Church. Those who are most vulnerable to the aggressive proselytizing
of sects -- a just cause for concern -- and those who are incapable of
resisting the onslaught of agnosticism, relativism and secularization
are generally the baptized who remain insufficiently evangelized; they
are easily influenced because their faith is weak, confused, easily
shaken and naive, despite their innate religiosity. In the Encyclical
"Deus Caritas Est," I stated that "being Christian is not the result of
an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a
person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (No.
1). Consequently, there is a need to engage in apostolic activity as a
true mission in the midst of the flock that is constituted by the
Church in Brazil, and to promote on every level a methodical
evangelization aimed at personal and communal fidelity to Christ. No
effort should be spared in seeking out those Catholics who have fallen
away and those who know little or nothing of Jesus Christ, by
implementing a pastoral plan which welcomes them and helps them realize
that the Church is a privileged place of encounter with God, and also
through a continuing process of catechesis.
What is required, in a word, is a mission of
evangelization capable of engaging all the vital energies present in
this immense flock. My thoughts turn to the priests, the men and women
religious and the laity who work so generously, often in the face of
immense difficulties, in order to spread the truth of the Gospel. Many
of them cooperate with or actively participate in the associations,
movements and other new ecclesial realities that, in communion with the
Pastors and in harmony with diocesan guidelines, bring their spiritual,
educational and missionary richness to the heart of the Church, as a
precious experience and a model of Christian life.
In this work of evangelization the ecclesial community
should be clearly marked by pastoral initiatives, especially by sending
missionaries, lay or religious, to homes on the outskirts of the cities
and in the interior, to enter into dialogue with everyone in a spirit
of understanding, sensitivity and charity. On the other hand, if the
persons they encounter are living in poverty, it is necessary to help
them, as the first Christian communities did, by practising solidarity
and making them feel truly loved. The poor living in the outskirts of
the cities or the countryside need to feel that the Church is close to
them, providing for their most urgent needs, defending their rights and
working together with them to build a society founded on justice and
peace. The Gospel is addressed in a special way to the poor, and the
Bishop, modelled on the Good Shepherd, must be particularly concerned
with offering them the divine consolation of the faith, without
overlooking their need for "material bread". As I wished to stress in
the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, "the Church cannot neglect the service
of charity any more than she can neglect the sacraments and the word"
The sacramental life, especially in the celebration of
Confession and the Eucharist, here takes on a particular importance. As
Pastors, it is your primary task to ensure that the faithful share in
the eucharistic life and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You must
be vigilant to ensure that the confession and absolution of sins is
ordinarily individual, inasmuch as sin itself is something profoundly
personal (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Reconciliatio et
Paenitentia," 31, III). Only physical or moral impossibility exempts
the faithful from this form of confession, in which case reconciliation
can be obtained by some other means (cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 960,
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 311). It is
appropriate, therefore, to instil in priests the practice of generously
making themselves available to the faithful who have recourse to the
sacrament of God's mercy (cf. Apostolic Letter "Misericordia Dei," 2).
4. Starting afresh from Christ in every area of missionary
activity; rediscovering in Jesus the love and salvation given to us by
the Father through the Holy Spirit: this is the substance and lifeline
of the episcopal mission which makes the Bishop the person primarily
responsible for catechesis in his diocese. Indeed, it falls ultimately
to him to direct catechesis, surrounding himself with competent and
trustworthy co-workers. It is therefore clear that the catechist's task
is not simply to communicate faith-experiences; rather -- under the
guidance of the Pastor -- it is to be an authentic herald of revealed
truths. Faith is a journey led by the Holy Spirit which can be summed
up in two words: conversion and discipleship. In the Christian
tradition, these two key words clearly indicate that faith in Christ
implies a way of living based on the twofold command to love God and
neighbour -- and they also express life's social dimension.
Truth presupposes a clear understanding of Jesus' message
transmitted by means of an intelligible, inculturated language, which
must nevertheless remain faithful to the Gospel's intent. At this time,
there is an urgent need for an adequate knowledge of the faith as it is
presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its accompanying
Compendium. Education in Christian personal and social virtues is also
an essential part of catechesis, as is education in social
responsibility. Precisely because faith, life, and the celebration of
the sacred liturgy -- the source of faith and life -- are inseparable,
there is need for a more correct implementation of the liturgical
principles as indicated by the Second Vatican Council, as well as those
contained in the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops (cf.
145-151), so as to restore to the liturgy its sacred character. It was
with this end in view that my Venerable Predecessor on the Chair of
Peter, John Paul II, wished "to appeal urgently that the liturgical
norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great
fidelity ... Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the
celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated"
(Encyclical Letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," 52). For Bishops, who are
the "moderators of the Church's liturgical life", the rediscovery and
appreciation of obedience to liturgical norms is a form of witness to
the one, universal Church, that presides in charity.
5. A leap forward in the quality of people's Christian
lives is needed, so that they can bear witness to their faith in a
clear and transparent way. This faith, as it is celebrated and shared
in the liturgy and in works of charity, nourishes and reinvigorates the
community of the Lord's disciples while building them up as the
missionary and prophetic Church. The Brazilian Episcopate has an
impressive structure based on recently revised and more easily
implemented statutes which focus more directly on the good of the
Church. The Pope has come to Brazil to ask that, through following the
word of God, all these Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate truly
become messengers of eternal salvation for all those who obey Christ
(cf. Hebrews 5:10). If we are to stay true to our solemn commitment as
successors of the Apostles, we Pastors must be faithful servants of the
word, eschewing any reductive or mistaken vision of the mission
entrusted to us. It is not enough to look at reality solely from the
viewpoint of personal faith; we must work with the Gospel in our hands
and anchor ourselves in the authentic heritage of the Apostolic
Tradition, free from any interpretations motivated by rationalistic
Indeed, "within the particular Churches, it is the
Bishop's responsibility to guard and interpret the word of God and to
make authoritative judgments as to what is or is not in conformity with
it" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the
Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, 19). As the primary Teacher of
faith and doctrine, the Bishop will rely on collaboration with the
theologian, who, in order "to be faithful to his role of service to the
truth, must take into account the proper mission of the Magisterium and
collaborate with it" (ibid., 20). The duty to preserve the deposit of
faith and safeguard its unity calls for strict vigilance so that the
faith may be "preserved and handed down with fidelity and so that
particular insights are clearly integrated into the one Gospel of
Christ" (Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 126).
This, therefore, is the enormous responsibility you have
assumed as formators of your people, and especially of the priests and
religious under your care. They are you faithful co-workers. I am aware
of your commitment to seeking ways of forming new vocations to the
priesthood and religious life. Theological formation, as well as
education in sacred sciences, needs to be constantly updated, but this
must always done in accord with the Church's authentic Magisterium.
I appeal to your priestly zeal and your sense of
vocational discernment, especially so that you will know how to bring
to completion the spiritual, psychological and affective, intellectual
and pastoral formation needed to prepare young people for mature,
generous service to the Church. Good and assiduous spiritual direction
is indispensable for fostering human growth and eliminating the risk of
going astray in the area of sexuality. Always keep in mind that
priestly celibacy "is a gift which the Church has received and desires
to retain, convinced that it is a good for the Church itself and for
the world" (Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 57).
I would also like to commend to your care the religious
communities which play such an important role in the lives of your
dioceses. They offer their own valuable contribution since "there are
varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:4). The
Church cannot help but show its joy and gratitude for all that
religious men and women are able to contribute in universities,
schools, hospitals, and other works and institutions.
6. I am familiar with the dynamic of your Assemblies and
the efforts involved in formulating the various pastoral plans so that
they give priority to the formation of clergy and those who assist them
in their pastoral work. Some of you have encouraged evangelization
movements to assist in the work of gathering groups of faithful
together to carry out certain types of action. The Successor of Peter
is relying on you to ensure that the preparation you give them is
always based on a spirituality of communion and fidelity to the See of
Peter, so that the work of the Spirit is never in vain. In fact, the
integrity of the faith, together with ecclesiastical discipline, is and
will always be an area requiring careful oversight on your part,
especially when it comes to living out the consequences of the fact
that "there is only one faith and one baptism".
As you know, among the various documents dealing with
Christian unity, there is the Directory for Ecumenism published by the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Ecumenism -- or the
search for unity among Christians -- has become in our time an
increasingly urgent task for the Catholic Church, as is evident from
the growth of intercultural exchange and the challenge of secularism.
Consequently, given the rapidly growing number of new Christian
denominations, and especially certain forms of often aggressive
proselytism, the work of ecumenism has become more complex. In this
context, a good historical and doctrinal formation is absolutely
essential, so as to foster necessary discernment and lead to a better
understanding of the specific identity of each of these communities,
the elements that divide them, and those elements that can be helpful
on the road to greater unity. The greatest area of common ground for
collaboration should be the defence of fundamental moral values --
transmitted by the biblical tradition -- against the relativistic and
consumerist cultural forces that seek to destroy them. Another such
area is faith in God the Creator and in Jesus Christ his incarnate Son.
Moreover, there will always be the principle of fraternal love and the
search for mutual understanding and rapprochement. Yet we must also be
concerned with defending the faith of our people, confirming them in
the joyful certitude that "unica Christi Ecclesia … subsistit in
Ecclesia catholica, a successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione
gubernata" ["The one Church of Christ … subsists in the Catholic Church
which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in
communion with him"] ("Lumen Gentium," 8).
In this way, through the National Council of Christian
Churches, you will be able to move towards candid ecumenical dialogue,
committing yourselves to complete respect for those other religious
confessions that wish to remain in contact with the Catholic Church in
7. There is nothing new in the observation that your
country is living through a historic deficit in social development,
whose extreme effects can seen in the vast cross-section of Brazilians
living in need and the great inequalities in income, even at the
highest levels of society. It is your task, my dear Brothers, as the
hierarchy of the people of God, to promote the search for new solutions
imbued with the Christian spirit. A vision of the economy and social
problems from the perspective of the Church's social teaching should
always bring us to consider things from the viewpoint of human dignity,
which transcends the simple interplay of economic factors. Hence, it is
necessary to work untiringly to form politicians, and all Brazilians
who wield a certain influence, be it great or small, as well as all
members of society, so that they can fully assume their
responsibilities and learn to give the economy a truly human and
There is a need to form a genuine spirit of truthfulness
and honesty among the political and commercial classes. Those who take
on leadership roles in society must try to foresee the social
consequences -- direct and indirect, short-term and long-term -- of
their own decisions, always acting according to the criteria that will
maximize the common good, rather than merely seeking personal profit.
8. God willing, my dear Brothers, we will find other
opportunities to explore these questions that call for our joint
pastoral concern. For now, without pursuing them in an exhaustive way,
I have tried to put forward the more significant themes that clamour
for my attention as Pastor of the universal Church. I offer you my
affectionate encouragement, which is at the same time a fraternal and
heart-felt plea: that you will always work and act -- as indeed you are
doing now -- in a spirit of harmony, building yourselves on the
communion that finds its highest expression and inexhaustible source in
the Eucharist. Entrusting all of you to Mary Most Holy, Mother of
Christ and Mother of the Church, I cordially impart to each of you, as
well as your respective communities, my Apostolic Blessing.
Pope's Address at
Canonization of 1st Brazilian
"His Immense Charity Knew No Bounds"
SÃO PAULO, Brazil, MAY 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the
canonization Mass of Blessed Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão
the first Brazilian to be proclaimed a saint.
* * *
My Venerable Brothers in the College of Cardinals,
Archbishop Scherer of São Paulo,
Bishops of Brazil and Latin America,
Sisters and Brothers in Christ!
I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise always on
my lips (Psalms 32:2)
1. Let us rejoice in the Lord, on this day when we
contemplate another marvel of God, who in his admirable providence
allows us to taste a trace of his presence in this act of self-giving
Love that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.
Yes, we cannot fail to praise our God. Let all of us
praise him, peoples of Brazil and America, let us sing to the Lord of
his wonders, because he has done great things for us. Today, Divine
Wisdom allows us to gather around his altar with praise and
thanksgiving for the grace granted to us in the canonization of Frei
Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão.
I would like to express my thanks for the affectionate
words spoken on behalf of all of you by the Archbishop of São
thank each one of you for your presence here, whether you come from
this great city or from other cities and nations. I rejoice that,
through the communications media, my words and expressions of affection
can enter every house and every heart. Be sure of this: the Pope loves
you, and he loves you because Jesus Christ loves you.
In this solemn eucharistic celebration, we have listened
to the Gospel in which Jesus exultantly proclaims: "I thank you,
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things
from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes" (Matthew
11:25). I am glad that the elevation to the altars of Frei
always remain framed in the liturgy that the Church presents to us
I greet with affection all the Franciscan community, and
especially the Conceptionist Sisters who, from the Monastery of Light,
from the capital of the State of São Paulo, spread the
the charism of the first Brazilian to be raised to the glory of the
2. Let us give thanks to God for the lasting benefits
obtained through the powerful evangelizing influence that the Holy
Spirit impressed upon so many souls through Frei Galvão. The
charism, lived out in the spirit of the Gospel, has borne significant
fruits through his witness as an ardent adorer of the Eucharist, as a
prudent and wise guide of the souls who sought his counsel, and as a
man with a great devotion to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, whose
"son and perpetual servant" he considered himself to be.
God comes towards us, "he seeks to win our hearts, all the
way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the Cross, to
his appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which,
through the activity of the Apostles, he guided the nascent Church
along its path" (Encyclical Letter "Deus Caritas Est," 17). He reveals
himself through his word, in the sacraments and especially in the
Eucharist. The life of the Church, therefore, is essentially
eucharistic. In his loving providence, the Lord has left us a visible
sign of his presence.
When we contemplate the Lord at Mass, raised up by the
priest after the consecration of the bread and wine, or when we
devoutly adore him exposed in the monstrance, we renew our faith with
profound humility, as Frei Galvão did in "laus perennis", in a
attitude of adoration. The Holy Eucharist contains all the spiritual
wealth of the Church, that is to say Christ himself, our Passover, the
living bread come down from heaven, given life by the Holy Spirit and
in turn life-giving because it is the source of Life for mankind. This
mysterious and ineffable manifestation of God's love for humanity
occupies a privileged place in the heart of Christians. They must come
to know the faith of the Church through her ordained ministers, through
the exemplary manner in which they carry out the prescribed rites that
always point to the eucharistic liturgy as the centre of the entire
task of evangelization. The faithful, in their turn, must seek to
receive and to venerate the Most Holy Sacrament with piety and
devotion, eager to welcome the Lord Jesus with faith, and having
recourse, whenever necessary, to the sacrament of reconciliation so as
to purify the soul from every grave sin.
3. The significance of Frei Galvão's example lies
willingness to be of service to the people whenever he was asked. He
was renowned as a counsellor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and
families, and a dispenser of charity especially towards the poor and
the sick. He was greatly sought out as a confessor, because he was
zealous, wise and prudent. It is characteristic of those who truly love
that they do not want the Beloved to be offended; the conversion of
sinners was therefore the great passion of our saint. Sister Helena
Maria, the first religious sister destined to belong to the
Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, witnessed to
Galvão had said to her: "Pray that the Lord our God will raise
with his mighty arm from the wretched depths of the sins in which they
find themselves." May this insightful admonition serve as a stimulus to
us to recognize in the Divine Mercy the path towards reconciliation
with God and our neighbour, for the peace of our consciences.
4. United with the Lord in the supreme communion of the
Eucharist and reconciled with him and our neighbour, we will thus
become bearers of that peace which the world cannot give. Will the men
and women of this world be able to find peace if they are not aware of
the need to be reconciled with God, with their neighbour and with
themselves? Highly significant in this regard are the words written by
the Assembly of the Senate of São Paulo to the Minister
the Franciscans at the end of the eighteenth century, describing Frei
Galvão as a "man of peace and charity". What does the Lord ask
"Love one another as I have loved you." But immediately afterwards he
adds: "Go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last" (cf. John
15:12,16). And what fruit does he ask of us, if not that of knowing how
to love, drawing inspiration from the example of the Saint of
The renown of his immense charity knew no bounds. People
from all over the country went to Frei Galvão, who offered a
welcome to everyone. Among those who came to implore his help were the
poor and the sick in body and spirit.
Jesus opens his heart and reveals to us the core of his
entire saving message: "No one has greater love than this: to lay down
his life for his friends" (John 15:13). He himself loved even to the
extent of giving his life for us on the Cross. The action of the Church
and of Christians in society must have this same inspiration. Pastoral
initiatives for the building up of society, if directed towards the
good of the poor and the sick, bear within themselves this divine seal.
The Lord counts on us and calls us his friends, because it is only to
those we love in this way that we are capable of giving the life
offered by Jesus through his grace.
As we know, the Fifth General Conference of the
Latin-American Episcopate will take as its fundamental theme:
"Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our Peoples may
have Life in Him". How can we fail to see, then, the need to listen
with renewed fervour to God's call, so as to be able to respond
generously to the challenges facing the Church in Brazil and in Latin
5. "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest", says the Lord in the Gospel (Matthew 11:28). This
is the final recommendation that he makes to us. How can we fail to
recognize here God's fatherly and at the same time motherly care
towards all his children? Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, stands
particularly close to us at this moment. Frei Galvão
affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception. She, the Tota Pulchra,
the Virgin Most Pure, who conceived in her womb the Redeemer of mankind
and was preserved from all stain of original sin, wishes to be the
definitive seal of our encounter with God our Saviour. There is no
fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its
necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady.
In fact, the saint that we are celebrating gave himself
irrevocably to the Mother of Jesus from his youth, desiring to belong
to her for ever and he chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother and
Protector of his spiritual daughters.
My dearest friends, what a fine example Frei Galvão
left for us to follow! There is a phrase included in the formula of his
consecration which sounds remarkably contemporary to us, who live in an
age so full of hedonism: "Take away my life before I offend your
blessed Son, my Lord!" They are strong words, the words of an
impassioned soul, words that should be part of the normal life of every
Christian, whether consecrated or not, and they enkindle a desire for
fidelity to God in married couples as well as in the unmarried. The
world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to
be perceived as mere objects of pleasure. It is necessary to oppose
those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and
virginity before marriage.
In our day, Our Lady has been given to us as the best
defence against the evils that afflict modern life; Marian devotion is
the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour
of temptation. And what an unfailing support is this mysterious
presence of the Virgin Most Pure, when we invoke the protection and the
help of the Senhora Aparecida! Let us place in her most holy hands the
lives of priests and consecrated laypersons, seminarians and all who
are called to religious life.
6. My dear friends, allow me to finish by recalling the
Vigil of Prayer at Marienfeld in Germany: in the presence of a
multitude of young people, I spoke of the saints of our epoch as true
reformers. And I added: "Only from the saints, only from God does true
revolution come, the definitive way to change the world" (Homily, 25
August 2005). This is the invitation that I address to all of you
today, from the first to the last, in this Eucharist without frontiers.
God said: "Be holy, as I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44). Let us give thanks
to God the Father, to God the Son, to God the Holy Spirit from whom,
through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we receive all the
blessings of heaven; from whom we receive this gift which, together
with faith, is the greatest grace that can be bestowed upon a creature:
the firm desire to attain the fullness of charity, in the conviction
that holiness is not only possible but also necessary for every person
in his or her own state of life, so as to reveal to the world the true
face of Christ, our friend! Amen!
Address to Youth
"I Send You Out on the Great
Mission of Evangelizing"
PACAEMBU, Brazil, MAY 10, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered to youth,
during the first full day of his visit to Brazil.
* * *
My dear young friends!
"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and
give to the poor … and come, follow me" (Mt 19:21).
1. I was particularly eager to include a meeting with you
during this my first journey to Latin America. I have come to
inaugurate the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America
which, according to my wish, will take place at Aparecida, here in
Brazil, at the Shrine of Our Lady. It is she who leads us to the feet
of Jesus so that we can learn his teachings about the Kingdom, and it
is she who stirs us up to be his missionaries so that the people of
this "Continent of Hope" may have full life in him.
In their General Assembly last year, your Bishops here in
Brazil reflected on the theme of the evangelization of youth and they
placed a document into your hands. They asked you to receive that
document and add your own reflections to it in the course of the year.
At their most recent Assembly, the Bishops returned to the theme,
enriched now by your collaboration, in the hope that the reflections
and guidelines proposed therein would serve as a stimulus and a beacon
for your journey. The words offered by the Archbishop of São
the Director of Pastoral Care for Young People, both of whom I thank,
confirm the spirit that moves your hearts.
While flying over the land of Brazil yesterday evening, I
was already anticipating our encounter here in the Stadium of Pacaembu,
anxious to extend to all of you a warm Brazilian embrace and to share
with you the sentiments which I carry in the depths of my heart, and
which are very appropriately indicated to us in today's Gospel.
I have always felt a very special joy at these encounters.
I remember especially the Twentieth World Youth Day at which I was able
to preside two years ago in Germany. Some of you gathered here today
were also present! It is an emotional memory for me on account of the
abundant fruits of the Lord's grace poured out upon those who were
there. Among the many fruits which I could point to, there is little
doubt that the first was the exemplary sense of fraternity that stood
as a clear witness to the Church's perennial vitality throughout the
2. For this reason, my dear friends, I am certain that
today the same impressions I received in Germany will be renewed here.
In 1991, during his visit to Mato Grosso, the Servant of God Pope John
Paul II, of venerable memory, said that "youth are the first
protagonists of the third millennium … they are the ones who will be
charged with the destiny of this new phase in human history" (16
October 1991). Today, I feel moved to make the same observation
regarding all of you.
The Christian life you lead in numerous parishes and small
ecclesial communities, in universities, colleges and schools, and most
of all, in places of work both in the city and in the countryside, is
undoubtedly pleasing to the Lord. But it is necessary to go even
further. We can never say "enough", because the love of God is
infinite, and the Lord asks us -- or better --requires us to open our
hearts wider so that there will be room for even more love, goodness,
and understanding for our brothers and sisters, and for the problems
which concern not only the human community, but also the effective
preservation and protection of the natural environment of which we are
all a part. "Our forests have more life": do not allow this flame of
hope which your National Hymn places on your lips to die out. The
devastation of the environment in the Amazon Basin and the threats
against the human dignity of peoples living within that region call for
greater commitment in the different areas of activity than society
tends to recognize.
3. Today I would like to reflect on the text we have just
heard from Saint Matthew (cf. 19:16-22). It speaks of a young man who
ran to see Jesus. His impatience merits special attention. In this
young man I see all of you young people of Brazil and Latin America.
You have "run" here from various regions of this Continent for this
meeting of ours. You want to listen to the words of Jesus himself --
spoken through the voice of the Pope.
You have a crucial question -- a question that appears in
this Gospel -- to put to him. It is the same question posed by the
young man who ran to see Jesus: What good deed must I do, to have
eternal life? I would like to take a deeper look at this question with
you. It has to do with life. A life which -- in all of you -- is
exuberant and beautiful. What are you to do with it? How can you live
it to the full?
We see at once that in the very formulation of the
question, the "here" and "now" are not enough; to put it another way,
we cannot limit our life within the confines of space and time, however
much we might try to broaden their horizons. Life transcends them. In
other words: we want to live, not die. We have a sense of something
telling us that life is eternal and that we must apply ourselves to
reach it. In short, it rests in our hands and is dependent, in a
certain way, on our own decision.
The question in the Gospel does not regard only the
future. It does not regard only a question about what will happen after
death. On the contrary, it exists as a task in the present, in the
"here" and "now", which must guarantee authenticity and consequently
the future. In short, the young man's question raises the issue of
life's meaning. It can therefore be formulated in this way: what must I
do so that my life has meaning? How must I live so as to reap the full
fruits of life? Or again: what must I do so that my life is not wasted?
Jesus alone can give us the answer, because he alone can
guarantee us eternal life. He alone, therefore, can show us the meaning
of this present life and give it fullness.
4. But before giving his response, Jesus asks about a very
important aspect of the young man's enquiry: why do you ask me about
what is good? In this question, we find the key to the answer. This
young man perceives that Jesus is good and that he is a teacher -- a
teacher who does not deceive. We are here because we have the very same
conviction: Jesus is good. It may be that we do not know how to explain
fully the reason for this perception, but it undoubtedly draws us to
him and opens us up to his teaching: he is a good teacher. To recognize
the good means to love. And whoever loves -- to use a felicitous
expression of Saint John -- knows God (cf. 1 Jn 4:7). The young man in
the Gospel has perceived God in Jesus Christ.
Jesus assures us that God alone is good. To be open to
goodness means to receive God. In this way, he invites us to see God in
all things and in everything that happens, even where most people see
only God's absence. When we see the beauty of creation and recognize
the goodness present there, it is impossible not to believe in God and
to experience his saving and reassuring presence. If we came to see all
the good that exists in the world -- and moreover, experience the good
that comes from God himself -- we would never cease to approach him,
praise him, and thank him. He continually fills us with joy and good
things. His joy is our strength.
But we can only know in an imperfect, partial way. To
understand what is good, we need help, which the Church offers us on
many occasions, especially through catechesis. Jesus himself shows what
is good for us by giving us the first element in his catechesis: "If
you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17). He begins with
the knowledge that the young man has surely already acquired from his
family and from the synagogue: he knows the commandments. These lead to
life, which means that they guarantee our authenticity. They are the
great signs which lead us along the right path. Whoever keeps the
commandments is on the way that leads to God.
It is not enough, however, simply to know them. Witness is
even more important than knowledge; or rather, it is applied knowledge.
The commandments are not imposed upon us from without; they do not
diminish our freedom. On the contrary: they are strong internal
incentives leading us to act in a certain way. At the heart of them we
find both grace and nature, which do not allow us to stay still. We
must walk. We are motivated to do something in order fulfil our
potential. To find fulfilment through action is, in reality, to become
real. To a large extent, from the time of our youth, we are whatever we
want to be. We are, so to speak, the work of our own hands.
5. At this point, I turn once more to you, young people,
because I want to hear you give the same response that the young man in
the Gospel gave: all these I have observed from my youth. The young man
in the Gospel was good. He kept the commandments. He was walking along
the way of God. Jesus, therefore, gazing at him, loved him. By
recognizing that Jesus was good, he showed that he too was good. He had
an experience of goodness, and therefore of God. And you, young people
of Brazil and Latin America, have you already discovered what is good?
Do you follow the Lord's commandments? Have you discovered that this is
the one true road to happiness?
These years of your life are the years which will prepare
you for your future. Your "tomorrow" depends much on how you are living
the "today" of your youth. Stretching out in front of you, my dear
young friends, is a life that all of us hope will be long; yet it is
only one life, it is unique: do not let it pass it vain; do not
squander it. Live it with enthusiasm and with joy, but most of all,
with a sense of responsibility.
Many times, we who are pastors feel a sense of trepidation
as we take stock of the situation in today's world. We hear talk of the
fears of today's youth. These fears reveal an enormous lack of hope: a
fear of death, at the very moment when life is blossoming and the young
are searching to find how to fulfil their potential; fear of failure,
through not having discovered the meaning of life; fear of remaining
detached in the face of a disconcerting acceleration of events and
communications. We see the high death rate among young people, the
threat of violence, the deplorable proliferation of drugs which strike
at the deepest roots of youth today. For these reasons, we hear talk of
a "lost youth".
But as I gaze at you young people here present -- you who
radiate so much joy and enthusiasm -- I see you as Christ sees you:
with a gaze of love and trust, in the certainty that you have found the
true way. You are the youth of the Church. I send you out, therefore,
on the great mission of evangelizing young men and women who have gone
astray in this world like sheep without a shepherd. Be apostles of
youth. Invite them to walk with you, to have the same experience of
faith, hope, and love; to encounter Jesus so that they may feel truly
loved, accepted, able to realize their full potential. May they too may
discover the sure ways of the commandments, and, by following them,
come to God.
You can be the builders of a new society if you seek to
put into practice a conduct inspired by universal moral values, but
also a personal commitment to a vitally important human and spiritual
formation. Men and women who are ill-prepared for the real challenges
presented by a correct interpretation of the Christian life in their
own surroundings will easily fall prey to all the assaults of
materialism and secularism, which are more and more active at all
Be men and women who are free and responsible; make the
family a centre that radiates peace and joy; be promoters of life, from
its beginning to its natural end; protect the elderly, since they
deserve respect and admiration for the good they have done. The Pope
also expects young people to seek to sanctify their work, carrying it
out with technical skill and diligence, so as to contribute to the
progress of all their brothers and sisters, and to shed the light of
the Word upon all human activities (cf. Lumen Gentium, 36). But above
all, the Pope wants them to set about building a more just and
fraternal society, fulfilling their duties towards the State:
respecting its laws; not allowing themselves to be swept along by
hatred and violence; seeking to be an example of Christian conduct in
their professional and social milieu, distinguishing themselves by the
integrity of their social and professional relationships. They should
remember that excessive ambition for wealth and power leads to
corruption of oneself and others; there are no valid motives that would
justify attempting to impose one's own worldly aspirations -- economic
or political -- through fraud and deceit.
There exists, in the final analysis, an immense panorama
of action in which questions of a social, economic and political nature
take on particular importance, as long as they draw their inspiration
from the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church. This includes
building a more just and fraternal society, reconciled and at peace, it
includes the commitment to reduce violence, initiatives to promote the
fullness of life, the democratic order and the common good and
especially initiatives aimed at eliminating certain forms of
discrimination existing in Latin American societies: avoiding
exclusion, for the sake of mutual enrichment.
Above all, have great respect for the institution of the
sacrament of Matrimony. There cannot be true domestic happiness unless,
at the same time, there is fidelity between spouses. Marriage is an
institution of natural law, which has been raised by Christ to the
dignity of a sacrament; it is a great gift that God has given to
mankind: respect it and honour it. At the same time, God calls you to
respect one another when you fall in love and become engaged, since
conjugal life, reserved by divine ordinance to married couples, will
bring happiness and peace only to the extent that you are able to build
your future hopes upon chastity, both within and outside marriage. I
repeat here to all of you that "eros tends to rise . . . towards the
Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls
for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing"
(Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est , 5). To put it briefly, it
requires a spirit of sacrifice and renunciation for the sake of a
greater good, namely the love of God above all things. Seek to resist
forcefully the snares of evil that are found in many contexts, driving
you towards a dissolute and paradoxically empty life, causing you to
lose the precious gift of your freedom and your true happiness. True
love "increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more
and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to 'be there for'
the other" (ibid., 7) and therefore will always grow in faithfulness,
indissolubility and fruitfulness.
In all these things, count upon the help of Jesus Christ
who will make them possible through his grace (cf. Mt 19:26). The life
of faith and prayer will lead you along the paths of intimacy with God,
helping you to understand the greatness of his plans for every person.
"For the sake of the kingdom of heaven" ( Mt 19:12), some are called to
a total and definitive self-giving, by consecrating themselves to God
in the religious life -- an "exceptional gift of grace", as the Second
Vatican Council expressed it (cf. Decree Perfectae Caritatis, 12).
Consecrated persons, by giving themselves totally to God, prompted by
the Holy Spirit, participate in the Church's mission, bearing witness
before all people to their hope in the heavenly Kingdom. I therefore
bless and invoke divine protection upon all those religious who have
dedicated themselves to Christ and to their brothers and sisters within
the vineyard of the Lord. Consecrated persons truly deserve the
gratitude of the ecclesial community: monks and nuns, contemplative men
and women, religious men and women dedicated to apostolic works,
members of Secular Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, hermits
and consecrated virgins. "Their existence witnesses to their love for
Christ as they walk the path proposed in the Gospel and with deep joy
commit themselves to the same style of life which he chose for himself"
(Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of
Apostolic Life, Instruction Starting Afresh from Christ, 5). I pray
that in this moment of grace and profound communion in Christ, the Holy
Spirit will awaken in the hearts of many young people an impassioned
love, prompting them to follow and imitate Jesus Christ, chaste, poor
and obedient, totally devoted to the glory of the Father and to love
for their brothers and sisters.
6. The Gospel assures us that the young man who went to
meet Jesus was very rich. We may understand this wealth not only on the
material level. Youth itself is a singular treasure. We have to
discover it and to value it. Jesus appreciated it so much that he went
on to invite the young man to participate in his saving mission. He had
great potential and could have accomplished great things.
But the Gospel goes on to say that this young man, having
heard the invitation, was saddened. He went away downcast and sad. This
episode causes us to reflect further on the treasure of youth. It is
not, in the first place, a question of material wealth, but of life
itself, and the values inherent in youth. This wealth is inherited from
two sources: life, transmitted from generation to generation, at the
ultimate origin of which we find God, full of wisdom and love; and
upbringing, which locates us within a culture, to such an extent that
we might almost say we are more children of culture and therefore of
faith, than of nature. From life springs freedom, which manifests
itself, especially in this phase, as responsibility. There comes the
great moment of decision, in a twofold choice: firstly, concerning
one's state of life, and secondly concerning one's profession. It is
about providing an answer to the question: what do I do with my life?
In other words, youth appears as a form of wealth because
it leads to the discovery of life as a gift and a task. The young man
in the Gospel understood that his youth was itself a treasure. He went
to Jesus, the good Teacher, in order to seek some direction. At the
moment of the great decision, however, he lacked the courage to wager
everything on Jesus Christ. In consequence, he went away sad and
downcast. This is what happens whenever our decisions waver and become
cowardly and self-seeking. He understood that what he lacked was
generosity, and this did not allow him to realize his full potential.
He withdrew to his riches, turning them to selfishness.
Jesus regretted the sadness and the cowardice of the young
man who had come to seek him out. The Apostles, like all of you here
today, filled the vacuum left by that young man who went away sad and
downcast. They, and we, are happy, because we know the one in whom we
believe (cf. 2 Tim 1:12). We know and we bear witness with our lives
that he alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68). Therefore,
we can exclaim with Saint Paul: Rejoice always in the Lord! (cf. Phil
7. My appeal to you today, young people present at this
gathering, is this: do not waste your youth. Do not seek to escape from
it. Live it intensely. Consecrate it to the high ideals of faith and
You, young people, are not just the future of the Church
and of humanity, as if we could somehow run away from the present. On
the contrary: you are that young man now; you are that young man in the
Church and in humanity today. You are his young face. The Church needs
you, as young people, to manifest to the world the face of Jesus
Christ, visible in the Christian community. Without this young face,
the Church would appear disfigured.
My dear young people, soon I shall inaugurate the Fifth
Conference of the Bishops of Latin America. I ask you to follow its
deliberations attentively; to participate in its discussions; to
receive its fruits. As was the case with earlier Conferences, the
present one will also leave a significant mark on the next ten years of
evangelization in Latin America and the Caribbean. No one must stay on
the sidelines or remain indifferent in the face of this ecclesial
initiative, least of all you young people. You are full members of the
Church, which represents the face of Jesus Christ for Latin America and
I greet the French speakers who live on the Latin American
continent, and I invite them to be witnesses of the Gospel, and to be
actively engaged in the life of the Church. My prayer is addressed to
you young people in a particular way: you are called to build your
lives on Christ and on fundamental human values. Everyone should feel
invited to work together in order to build a world of justice and peace.
My dear young friends, like the young man in the Gospel
who asked Jesus: "What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?", you
are all seeking ways to respond generously to God's call. I pray that
you may listen to his saving words and that you may become his
witnesses for the peoples of today. May God pour out upon all of you
his blessings of peace and joy.
My dear young people, Christ is calling you to be saints.
He himself is inviting you and wants to walk with you, in order to
enliven with his Spirit the steps that Brazil is taking at the
beginning of this third millennium of the Christian era. I ask the
Senhora Aparecida to guide you with her maternal help and to accompany
you throughout your lives.
Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ!
Pope's Address Upon Arriving
"Peace to All of You
Who Are in Christ"
SÃO PAULO, Brazil, MAY 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).-
Here is a
translation of the address Benedict XVI gave upon arriving at the
Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo. In the discourse
addresses Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
* * *
My Venerable Brothers in the College of Cardinals and
in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
1. I am very pleased to begin my Pastoral Visit to
Brazil and to express to Your Excellency, as Head of State and Supreme
Representative of the great Brazilian Nation, my gratitude for the warm
welcome offered to me. I willingly extend my thanks also to the members
of the Government accompanying you, as well as to the civil and
military dignitaries present, and to the authorities of the State of
São Paulo. In the words of welcome which you addressed to me, Mr
President, I hear an echo of the sentiments of affection and love that
all the Brazilian people bear towards the Successor of the Apostle
I offer my fraternal greetings in the Lord to my dear
Brother Bishops who have come to receive me in the name of the Church
in Brazil. I also greet the priests, religious men and women, the
seminarians and the lay people dedicated to the Church's task of
evangelization and to authentic Christian living. Finally, I extend my
warm greetings to all Brazilians without distinction, men and women,
families, the old and the sick, young people and children. To all of
you I say from my heart: thank you very much for your generous
2. Brazil has a very special place in the Pope's
heart, not only because it was born Christian and has today the largest
number of Catholics, but above all because it is a nation endowed with
a rich potential and an ecclesial presence that gives joy and hope to
the whole Church. My visit, Mr President, has a scope that goes beyond
national borders: I have come to preside at the opening Session of the
Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the
Caribbean at Aparecida. This country, in the providence and goodness of
the Creator, will become the cradle of the ecclesial proposals that,
with God's help, will give renewed vigour and missionary impetus to
3. In this geographical area, Catholics are in the
majority. This means that they must make a particular contribution to
the common good of the nation. The word solidarity will acquire its
full meaning when the living forces of society, each in its own sphere,
commit themselves seriously to building a future of peace and hope for
The Catholic Church, as I stated in the Encyclical
letter "Deus Caritas Est," "transformed by the Holy Spirit, is called
to become a witness before the world of the love of the Father who
wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son" (cf. No. 19). From
here springs her deep commitment to the mission of evangelization at
the service of the cause of peace and justice. Hence the decision to
undertake an essentially missionary Conference reflects clearly the
concern of the Bishops, as it does mine, to seek suitable ways by which
in Jesus Christ "our peoples may have life", as the theme of the
Conference reminds us. With these sentiments I raise my eyes beyond the
frontiers of this country, and I extend my greetings to all the peoples
of Latin America and the Caribbean in the words of the Apostle: "Peace
to all of you who are in Christ" (1 Peter 5:14).
4. Mr President, I am grateful to Divine Providence
for this grace of visiting Brazil, a Nation with a great Catholic
tradition. I have had occasion to point out the principal motive of my
visit, which is concerned with Latin America and has a fundamentally
I am happy to be able to spend some days among the
Brazilian people. I am well aware that the soul of this people, as of
all Latin America, safeguards values that are radically Christian,
which will never be eradicated. I am certain that at Aparecida, during
the Bishops' General Conference, this identity will be reinforced
through the promotion of respect for life from the moment of conception
until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature. It will
also make the promotion of the human person the axis of solidarity,
especially towards the poor and abandoned.
The Church seeks only to stress the moral values
present in each situation and to form the conscience of the citizens so
that they may make informed and free decisions. She will not fail to
insist on the need to take action to ensure that the family, the basic
cell of society, is strengthened, and likewise young people, whose
formation is a decisive factor for the future of any nation. Last but
not least, she will defend and promote the values present at every
level of society, especially among indigenous peoples.
5. With these good wishes and with renewed gratitude
for the warm reception that I have received as the Successor of Peter,
I invoke the maternal protection of "Nossa Senhora da
Aparecida," remembered also as "Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,"
of all America, so that she may protect and inspire those who govern in
their difficult task as promoters of the common good, and renew the
bonds of Christian fellowship for the good of all the people. May God
bless Latin America! God bless Brazil! Thank you!
Benedict XVI's Words
SÃO PAULO, Brazil, MAY 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).-
the Vatican translation of the words Benedict XVI pronounced from the
balcony of the Monastery of St. Benedict to the crowds gathered below.
* * *
Your affectionate welcome is heart-warming for the
Pope! Thank you for waiting here to greet me.
These days, for all of you and for the Church, will be
full of emotion and joy.
The Church is in festal mode! In every corner of the
world people are praying for the fruits of this journey, the first
Pastoral Journey to Brazil and to Latin America that Providence has
granted me to carry out as the Successor of Peter.
The canonization of Frei Galvão and the
of the Fifth Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the
Caribbean will be milestones in the history of the Church. I am
counting on you and on your prayers!
Spokesman Summarizes Brazil
Says Pope Combined Spirituality and Modern Times
VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict
XVI's message to the general conference of the episcopate of Latin
America and the Caribbean combined a spiritual message with the
realities of modern times, says the Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the
Vatican press office, commented on the message the Pope delivered
Sunday to open the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin
America and the Caribbean.
"The Pope's speech began with the proclamation of God,
who is love, and went on to talk about the life of the Church in which
this proclamation is carried out, cultivated and spread," Father
Lombardi said on Vatican Radio.
"The Pope's speech, however, was not simply
spiritualistic, cut off from the reality of the surrounding world," the
Vatican spokesman added. "It was a response to those who asked him how
the Church would respond to the challenges that come from the great
injustices and imbalances of this continent -- challenges that were
dealt with in the past, and that are still around today, sometimes
based on different ideologies -- on one hand materialistic liberalism
and on the other Marxism."
Father Lombardi continued: "The Pope responded with a
balanced and profound discourse distinguishing the Church's task of
proclaiming God's word from the strictly political task, making clear
the Church's role in teaching values, giving a religious view of the
person and the reality that is essential -- so that it will not be seen
in reductive terms, as something merely material.
"And therefore one should not search for solutions
that are partial at best, that result in negative consequences.
"The values of love and justice that we receive from
the Gospel and the Church's preaching help those who are building
social, economic and political structures to find an ever greater
justice, to find solutions that are rational and upright, that are
aware of the entire human person."
The Vatican spokesman quoted the Holy Father in saying
that "the Church is not directly involved in politics, but is an
advocate of justice and of the poor."
Father Lombardi also underlined the Pope's observation
of the need for lay Catholics in politics in Latin America: "The
characterizing task of the laity is that of transforming the world,
making it more just, more human, making it better able to respond to
the needs of a respectful coexistence for everyone, in harmony and with
justice for all members of society."
The Pope in Brazil
Key Themes Raised During Visit
By Father John Flynn
ROME, MAY 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Brazil, Benedict XVI announced upon
arriving in São Paulo on May 9, has a very special place in his
heart. The Pope explained that this is due to it being the country with
the largest number of Catholics and because of its potential that gives
joy and hope for the Church.
During his first trip to the Americas, the Pontiff addressed many
important themes in his discourses and homilies. Some of them were
directed more toward Brazil, but many of the points raised had
implications for the Church as a whole.
Evangelization an urgent task
The need for the Church to be imbued by a missionary attitude was
repeatedly mentioned by Benedict XVI. In his brief address upon
arriving in Brazil, the Pope commented that the Church has a "deep
commitment to the mission of evangelization at the service of the cause
of peace and justice" (No. 3).
The Holy Father returned to this theme in his address to some 400
bishops, gathered on May 11 to pray vespers in the Cathedral of
São Paulo. God desires all to be saved and to know the truth, he
observed. "This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church: the
salvation of individual souls" (No. 2).
Therefore, there is an urgent need to instruct people in the faith and
to celebrate the sacraments. In fact, in explaining why so many have
left the Church Benedict XVI argued that: "It seems clear that the
principal cause of this problem is to be found in the lack of an
evangelization completely centered on Christ and his Church" (No. 3).
In general, he noted, those who are most vulnerable to the activity of
the sects or to falling victim to the temptation of secularism and
relativism, have been insufficiently evangelized.
The Pope urged the bishops to put into practice a pastoral plan to seek
out and welcome back those Catholics who have left the Church, or who
know little about Christ.
What must we do to have eternal life?
During his encounter with youth, held at the Pacaembu stadium May 10 in
São Paulo, the Pope reflected on the implications of the
question the young man made to Jesus when he asked what he should do to
have eternal life (cf. Matthew 19:16-22).
We can also understand this interrogatory as meaning: "What must I do
so that my life has meaning?" noted the Pontiff (No. 3). "Jesus alone
can give us the answer, because he alone can guarantee us eternal
life," he added.
Part of the answer, he continued, is to be open to goodness, and to see
God in all that is around us and in all that happens. We also need to
keep the commandments, but not just by knowing them, we must keep them
and give witness in our own lives to them. This is much more than just
obeying external rules, Benedict XVI commented. At the heart of the
commandments we find both grace and nature, and by following them we
fulfill our potential. We only have one life to live and it is
important not to squander this opportunity, he urged.
The Pope also encouraged young people to evangelize, and to invite
their friends and those around them to encounter Jesus, so they too can
experience his love. He invited youth to demonstrate their faith in
their commitment to marriage and the family, and to build a more just
In all of this it is important to remain close to Jesus through giving
sufficient attention to the interior life: "The life of faith and
prayer will lead you along the paths of intimacy with God, helping you
to understand the greatness of his plans for every person" (No. 5).
The role of bishops
During his address on May 11 to bishops in the Cathedral of São
Paulo, the Pope gave some advice on what he saw as the priorities for
those chosen to be pastors of the Church. "Fidelity to the primacy of
God and of his will, known and lived in communion with Jesus Christ, is
the essential gift that we bishops and priests must offer to our
people" (No. 2).
Bishops must also ensure that the work of catechesis is carried out
properly. The catechist's task, the Holy Father explained, is not to
merely communicate "faith experiences," but to be "an authentic herald
of revealed truths" (No. 4). This means a faith that is characterized
by conversion and discipleship.
Part of this catechesis, he continued, also consists in ensuring the
correct implementation of liturgical principles. "For bishops, who are
the 'moderators of the Church's liturgical life,' the rediscovery and
appreciation of obedience to liturgical norms is a form of witness to
the one, universal Church that presides in charity" (No. 4).
Bishops should also avoid any reductive vision of the mission they have
been entrusted with, the Pope advised. "It is not enough to look at
reality solely from the viewpoint of personal faith; we must work with
the Gospel in our hands and anchor ourselves in the authentic heritage
of the apostolic Tradition, free from any interpretations motivated by
rationalistic ideologies" (No. 5).
The Pope also recommended that the bishops apply the social teaching of
the Church in dealing with the economic and social problems of Brazil,
and consider issues from the viewpoint of human dignity, which is a
vision that rises above the mere interaction of economic forces.
Christ the Savior
On May 13, Benedict XVI gave the inaugural address for the 5th General
Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held near
the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. In his opening his remarks the
Pope commented that the continent can count on a rich Christian
culture, five centuries after the initial evangelization, but at the
same time faces some serious challenges.
One interesting point raised by the Pontiff dealt with the arrival of
the Christian faith in the region. This event meant the arrival of
Christ, which the people living in those nations had been seeking, but
without realizing it, in their local religious traditions. "Christ is
the Savior for whom they were silently longing," the Pope stated (No.
Seen in this perspective, "the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel
did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbian
cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture," he argued.
Turning to the challenges to be considered by the bishops, the Holy
Father mentioned globalization. This brings with it benefits, he noted,
but at the same time the risk of economic priorities dominating
society. Globalization, like other activities, must be guided by
ethics, the Pope exhorted.
He also spoke of progress made towards democracy in the countries of
Latin America and the Caribbean. There are, however, still some regimes
that follow ideologies that do not correspond to the Christian vision
of man and society.
We must, the Pontiff enjoined, avoid the error of considering material
goods as the only reality in our lives. This is the mistake made in the
last century by both the Marxist and capitalist systems. "Only those
who recognize God know reality and are able to respond to it adequately
and in a truly human manner," he commented (No. 3).
Part of his address laid out what the Pope saw as priorities for the
renewal of the Church. In this respect he mentioned the family, the
role of priests and religious, and the mission entrusted to the laity.
In his words Benedict XVI observed that the region has been referred to
as the continent of hope. He also augured that it could become the
continent of love. An aspiration no doubt seconded by many.