During the closing Mass of the Jubilee Year for the 400th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese of Arequipa in Peru, Pope Benedict XVI’s special envoy, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, exhorted the more than 40,000 Peruvians in attendance to remain faithful to their “Catholic identity and human and spiritual values that characterize your glorious history.”
The cardinal celebrated Mass on July 18 at the National University of St. Augustine Stadium, joined by the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, and Archbishop Javier del Rio Alba of Arequipa, among others.
“Arequipa gave the Church a great blessed in St. Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo, as well as many good priests, bishops and two cardinals,” he said. Cardinal Re encouraged the faithful not to limit their celebration to “a mere historical evocation” but rather to “proclaim the Gospel knowing you are responsible for the task that Christ commended to His disciples.”
“We will never find a true solution in Peru to the problems today’s society faces if we do not put God at the center,” the cardinal insisted. “We must look to God again as the true guidepost for our lives and for our efforts to build a better future.”
Cardinal Re also referred to Our Lady of Chapi, a Marian devotion popular in the region, which “reminds us that Mary is the Star of Evangelization.” “She guides our steps in the fulfillment of the command of Christ,” he said.
During the Mass, Cardinal Re was given an altar piece with the image of Our Lady of Chapi and another for the Holy Father. He said his visit to Arequipa was one of joy in which he witnessed “the participation of the laity in the life of the Church,” and that he would convey his impressions to Benedict XVI.