The secretary general of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM), Bishop Andres Stanovnik, noted with joy this weekend that the feast of Our Lady of Fatima fell on exactly the same date on which one year from now CELAM will hold its fifth general conference in Aparecida, Brazil, on May 13, 2007.
Bishop Stanovnik, of the Diocese of Reconquista in Argentina, said that the same Blessed Mother who appeared at Fatima and Guadalupe “now brings us together” under her title as Our Lady of Aparecida—the most popular Marian devotion in Brazil—“in order to remind us that we are her children and that in her Son Jesus, we are brothers and sisters; sister peoples and nations that desire to live in solidarity with one another.”
That solidarity, the bishop said, is especially expressed in dedication and special concern for the poor, the defenseless “and all men and women, without exception, from conception to natural death.”
Bishop Stanovnik called the period before the Conference “a very important time for reflection” on the contributions being made by local Churches to the preparation for the gathering. “With Mary, Mother of the Church,” he said, “let us cast out into the deep, so that our people may have life in abundance in Christ and so that in solidarity we may foster fraternity and peace. To all those individuals and communities that are collaborating in the preparation of the V Conference, we send our cordial greetings and encouragement in the spiritual walk that will bring us together at Aparecida.”