Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, Archbishop of Santiago and President of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), said no plans have been made yet for a trip by Pope Benedict XVI to Latin America.
Speaking to the Associated Press after meeting with the Pontiff together with CELAM leaders, the cardinal stated, “He has not yet planned his travel calendar,”
However, Cardinal Errazuriz said the 5th General Conference of CELAM, which is set to take place in February of 2007, would be a “great opportunity.”
“Because of John Paul II’s health problems, we were planning to meet in Rome, but now that we have a new Pope, we will have to decide whether to still meet in Rome or to meet in some Latin America country,” the cardinal noted.
He added that the Pope “was very interested” in the meeting and that “since he is the one who has to approve the subject matter, he told us he would respond very soon.”
According to Cardinal Errazuriz, Benedict XVI “understands the situation of the Catholic Church in Latin America, her challenges, as well as her strengths, where there are so many parish base communities and movements that flourish with great vitality, and he was very happy with this situation.”
“I was struck by his ability to listen, which is extraordinary, by his humility, because we brought up issues that he did not know about, and by his simplicity in asking questions about one issue or another,” the cardinal said.