.- Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, Vice President of the Council of Latin American Bishops’ Conferences (CELAM), said this week the upcoming meeting of the bishops in some country of the region would be a great opportunity for Pope Benedict XVI to make his first papal visit to Latin America. In an interview granted to the communications department of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Aguiar spoke about the 50th anniversary celebrations of CELAM and its 30th Ordinary Assembly which were held in Lima, Peru, in May. At the meeting, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, made known the Holy See’s approval of the V Conference of CELAM.
According to Bishop Aguiar, the V Conference is Latin America’s best opportunity for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI. “That the Pope has not sent us his answer is a sign that he is considering it as he is organizing his plans for these first two years,” he said.
The bishop also revealed that during a meeting with the Pope in April, “the Holy Father said he would not travel as much as John Paul II did because of his age and because the late Pope had already opened those doors. Now Pope Benedict XVI had a new task and he said he would have to strategically choose the trips he would make.”
Bishop Aguiar said he was hopeful the Pope would accept the invitation. At the CELAM meeting in Lima, Cardinal Re said the Pope would respond to the bishops in September.
The bishops had previously considered holding their V Conference in Rome due to Pope John Paul II’s declining health, but with the election of a new Pontiff, said Bishop Aguiar, the possibility now exists that the meeting could be held in Latin America. At the meeting in Lima, numerous bishops suggested holding the Conference in Argentina or Chile. That decision will be made by the Holy Father.