Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, presided over Mass today before canonizing Br. Antonio de Sant'Ana Galvao, the first native-born Brazilian saint. During the Mass, he addressed the faithful with a brief homily.
Benedict began his homily by inviting all present to "rejoice in the Lord . . . Let all of us praise him, peoples of Brazil and America." The Pope momentarily turned his attention to those who were following his journey on television, saying, "Be sure of this: the Pope loves you, and he loves you because Jesus Christ loves you."
Turning his attention to Br. Galvao, the Holy Father asked all present to "give thanks to God for the lasting benefits obtained through the powerful evangelizing influence that the Holy Spirit impressed upon so many souls through Br. Galvao." Benedict said that Br. Galvao is an excellent of example of how people should behave before the Eucharist: they should be, like Br. Galvao, "in a constant attitude of adoration." This is because God "reveals Himself through His word, in the sacraments and especially in the Eucharist." The Eucharist "contains all the spiritual wealth of the Church . . . it is the source of Life for mankind."
Br. Galvao is also an example to all because of "his willingness to be of service to the people whenever he was asked." Because he truly loved those who came to him, "the conversion of sinners was therefore the great passion of our saint." By being united to our neighbor and our God, "we will thus become bearers of that peace which the world cannot give."
"Mary, Mother of God and our Mother," Benedict continued, "stands particularly close to us at this moment." Br. Galvao "prophetically affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception." Mary is the "definitive seal of our encounter with God our Savior."
Benedict then drew attention to a sentence found in Br. Galvao's consecration, "Take away my life before I offend your blessed Son, my Lord!" These words are "the words of an impassioned soul, words that should be part of the normal life of every Christian." In fact, "the world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to be perceived as mere objects of pleasure." Such clarity is "necessary to oppose those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and virginity before marriage."
According to the Holy Father, "Our Lady has been given to us as the best defense against the evils that afflict modern life." Moreover, "Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation."
In closing, the Pope recalled his words from World Youth Day 2005, "Only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world!" He finished his homily by asking the faithful to "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."
Aparecida, Brazil, May 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Church grows by the energy of Christ’s love and not by the power of ideologies, Pope Benedict XVI said on Sunday morning, during the inauguration of the 5th General Conference of Latin American Bishops at the Marian shrine of Aparecida, Brazil.
Addressing a crowd of more than 300,000, including the some 200 Latin American cardinals and bishops arrived for the meeting that will last until May 31, the Pope said that “Mary welcomes us to this Upper Room and, as our Mother and Teacher, helps us to pray trustingly to God with one voice.”
Commenting on the Sunday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Benedict said, “Church’s leaders discuss and argue, but in a constant attitude of religious openness to Christ’s word in the Holy Spirit.”
“This,” he said, “is the ‘method’ by which we operate in the Church, whether in small gatherings or in great ones. It is not only question of procedure: it is a reflection of the Church’s very nature as a mystery of communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit.”
The Latin American Bishops will discuss the future of the new evangelization in the region and will draft a document aimed at guiding their pastoral policies for the next decade. Addressing the Latin American Bishops, the Pope said, “To you who represent the Church in Latin America, today I symbolically entrust my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, in which I sought to point out to everyone the essence of the Christian message.”
He then explained that the Church “does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by ‘attraction’,” “just as Christ draws all to himself by the power of his love.”
Benedict XVI stressed then that “this is the priceless treasure that is so abundant in Latin America, this is her most precious inheritance: faith in the God who is Love, who has shown us his face in Jesus Christ.”
“This is the faith that has made America the Continent of Hope. Not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic system: faith in the God who is Love,” the Pope added, sparking a long applause from the crowd that included large delegations from South American countries.
Recalling Pope John Paul
The Pontiff went on to remind those present, “Pope John Paul II called you to a new evangelization, and you accepted his commission with your customary generosity and commitment.” “I now confirm it with you, and in the words of this Fifth Conference I say to you: be faithful disciples, so as to be courageous and effective missionaries!”
“Through the prayers of the Virgin Mary, may the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean be abundantly clothed with power from on high,” he said in closing.
Aparecida, Brazil, May 13, 2007 (CNA) - During the Regina Caeli prayer following the Mass celebrated at the Marian shrine of Aparecida in Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI said that the family stands at the heart of the Church.
The same day in which the 4th Congress of Families was being closed in Warsaw (Poland,) and one day after Italians held a massive “Family Day” in Rome to protect families from controversial legislation, Pope Benedict greeted the English-speaking groups present at Aparecida with words of encouragement of family life.
“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,” he said, “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,” the Pope continued, “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!”
During the praying of the Regina Caeli the Pope recalled the ninetieth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. “With their powerful call to conversion and penance,” he said, “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.”
Aparecida, Brazil, May 13, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI urged Latin American Bishops on Sunday to focus their mission in announcing the faith in Jesus Christ and avoid ideologies that have been proven a failure in history. The Pontiff delivered the longest speech of his Pontificate on Sunday, May 13, during the inaugural session of the 5th Conference of Latin American Bishops that will last until May 31st.
"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," said the Pope.
"The faithful,” he added, “are looking to this Fifth Conference for renewal and revitalization of their faith in Christ, our one Teacher and Savior, 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."
Speaking in Spanish, the Pope then stressed that "the 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."
The Pope's long speech required a pause, in which the Pontifical Hymn was performed by a tenor.
Benedict XVI continued by saying, "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." But, he warned, "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."
"And this ideological promise,” he added, “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."
"This political task is not the immediate competence of the Church," the Pontiff explained. "Respect for a healthy secularity — including the pluralism of political opinions — is essential in the authentic Christian tradition."
Pope Benedict then listed key pastoral areas he believes are critical "to bring about the renewal of the Church that has been entrusted to your care in these lands." The Pope's list included: the family “patrimony of humanity,” priests as "first promoters of discipleship,” religious men and women, the lay faithful "jointly responsible for building society according to the criteria of the Gospel,” the youth and vocations.
Pope Benedict concluded with a prayer that stressed: "Remain with us Lord, 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."
“As I conclude my stay among you,” he told the bishops, “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 Continent.”