.- The solution to the issues plaguing the American continent is to renew faith in Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said as he helped open a conference on the Church in the Americas.
“A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America,” Pope Benedict said.
He made his remarks to participants in the Dec. 9-12 international Ecclesia in America Congress, who were gathered in St. Peter's Basilica after the conference's opening Mass.
The congress’ aim is to improve relationships between the Church in North, Central and South America, and to discuss the New Evangelization.
Pope Benedict remarked that promoting a culture that respects human dignity is a matter of “fundamental urgency” in the American continent due to the “widespread mentality that tends to attack the dignity of the person and damage the institution of marriage and family.”
“Painful situations of emigration” – especially when associated organized crime, drug trafficking and arms dealing – are of chief concern to the Americas, as are “inequalities and areas of poverty caused by questionable economic, political and social measures,” the Pope added.
Although the solution to these problems requires “careful study,” the Pope said “the Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from the encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth.”
“This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent,” he stated. “The love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming His name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants.”
For this reason, Pope Benedict explained, Catholics in the Americas should “take up this commitment” by encouraging men and women religious and laity to “purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments.”
“In effect, Jesus Christ's love and the power of His grace must take root ever more intensely in the hearts of the people, families and Christian communities of your nations, to allow them to progress with dynamism along the paths of harmony and fair progress,” the Pope said.
Proper catechesis and doctrinal formation “marked by complete fidelity to the Word of God and the Church's Magisterium” were also named by the Pope as essential to forming a response to “the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart.”
He entrusted the renewal of the Americas to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, calling her a “model of openness to God’s grace and perfect concern for others.”
The gathering, which was inspired by Bl. Pope John Paul II’s 1997 exhortation ''Ecclesia in America," was organized by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Knights of Columbus in collaboration with the Institute for Guadalupan Studies.