.- "Enthusiastically embrace" the Continental Mission that the Church in South America has embarked on, Pope Benedict XVI urged a group of 150 members of the Pontifical Latin American College that he received in audience today.
The group of seminarians, priests and deacons are all attendees of the storied Pius Pontifical Latin American College in Rome, which was established in 1858 and has over 4,000 graduates.
The Pope described the members of the community as heirs "to a rich human and spiritual heritage," which is the fruit "of the sowing of Christ's message of redemption over history."
The Holy Father then recounted a spiritual history of the numerous countries the students represent. For more than five hundred years "courageous missionaries made Jesus, our Savior, known to people," he began. Thus, through Baptism, those people opened themselves to the life of grace which made them adopted children of God. Furthermore, they received the Holy Spirit which made their cultures fruitful, purifying them, developing the seeds that the incarnate Word had placed in them, and guiding them along the paths of the Gospel."
Encouraging his audience to put their time in Rome to good use for the sake of the people they will serve, Benedict XVI exhorted the students to diligent study and rigorous research. These practices "will create in you a spiritual life rooted in the Word of God and nourished by the incomparable richness of the Sacraments," he said.
Latin America and the Carribean have always maintained a fondness for the Pope, Benedict mentioned as he recalled the trip he took to Aparecida, Brazil in 2007.
"Through my presence there," he said, "I sought to encourage bishops as they reflected on a fundamental aspect of the revival of the faith of the pilgrim Church in those beloved lands: that of leading all the faithful to become 'disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life'."
As he brought his words to a close, the Holy Father encouraged the members of Latin American College to enthusiastically embrace the spirit of the Great Continental Mission proclaimed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, which has already begun to show positive signs in the diocese where it has begun.
The Great Continental Mission is an initiative that aims to increase catechetical and pastoral programs aimed at forming and developing "evangelized and missionary-oriented Christian communities" throughout all of South America.