.- The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe promotes a culture of life and is at the center of the New Evangelization of the Americas, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet at a conference in Rome.
“The fact that she appears, she doesn't have the child in her arms, because she has the child in her womb, it is a powerful message to our culture of death, where many babies die before coming to life,” Cardinal Ouellet remarked Dec. 11 at a small group discussion during the congress.
Cardinal Ouellet is the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He offered his insights at the Ecclesia in America Congress being held Dec. 9-12 in Rome.
“Mary is reminding us that the word of God took flesh in the womb of a woman, and he is bringing redemption, renewal of relationships, grace and mercy to the world, openness to life and to hope,” he said.
Our Lady of Guadalupe does this “with a great tenderness,” he observed, adding that in this apparition Mary is “proof of an inculturated gospel.”
He noted that “Mary” is originally a Judaic name, and that “Guadalupe” comes from Arabic roots. Those two components of her name result in “a message in itself of reconciliation … the Word made flesh is a solution for all humanity and all cultures. It is a gift of God for the whole of humanity,” he said.
Vicki Thorn, the founder of Project Rachel, echoed the cardinal's comments on Mary and combating the culture of death in the Americas, and spoke about her ministry for men and women who have had abortions.
She recalled that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said that if women who have had abortions “come with a repentant heart, the Father of mercies is waiting for them, and they will then become the cornerstones of the culture of life.”
Project Rachel, she said, is not only for the U.S., where it was founded.
“Project Rachel applies anywhere in the world where women have had abortions, men who have lost their children. The only thing that varies from culture to culture is the cultural explanation and how does that culture grieve.”
“But the pain is that of a mother, who has lost her child in a traumatic and unnatural fashion … it is not culture bound; it can go anywhere the Church is.”
She said the importance of Project Rachel is that women who are healed “restore the heart of the culture,” and that men who have been healed “actively take part in promoting a culture of life.”
Cardinal Ouellet also reflected on the importance of unity between North and South America, founded on “the treasure of our common patrimony, which is our Catholic faith and Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
The conference, he said, is “an act of faith and hope,” anchored in John Paul II's call for a “deeper dialogue” and “greater exchange” between North and South America.
“The richness of Latin America is their faith, their treasure of popular piety,” he told the small group.
“When they come to Canada or the U.S., they help to restore or save a Christian culture … they must bring and keep their religious identity, and enrich us with their faith.”
He said the outlook for the Americas is “very promising,” and that a renewal must come “from the faith, from a return to Jesus Christ, and so from the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, fundamentally.”