.- Pope Benedict XVI will commemorate the bicentennials of countries in Latin America with a special Mass at the St. Peterâs Basilica on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Latin America.
In a statement the Pontifical Council for Latin America announced that the Pope âjoyfully acceptedâ a proposal by the dicastery to join in the celebrations âon a very significant date, December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Latin America teacher of the enculturation of the faith, mother and protector of her nations, and whose image has been very present in the patriotic armies.â
The council noted that the bishopsâ conferences of Latin America and the Latin American Bishopsâ Council will be involved in the bicentennial celebrations. âNumerous documents and statements of the bishopsâ conferences and of individual bishops have been published, and there have been various ecclesial celebrations in the liturgy, academia and the press.â
All of the commemorations fall between 2010 and 2014 with the exception of Peru and Brazil, which will commemorate the bicentennials of their independence between 2020 and 2022.
âIn fact, the emancipation of the countries of Latin America took place from 1808 to 1824, although we should include the independence of Haiti (1804), that of Cuba which took place later (1898) and those that took place more recently in the Caribbean,â the statement said.
Roman Curia officials, diplomats accredited to the Holy See, Latin American priests and religious who work in Rome, and Latin American immigrants who reside in the Italian capital are all invited to the Dec. 12 Mass, the council announced.
It said the Mass would be a gesture of affection and solidarity on the part of the Holy Father towards the people and nations of the Continent of Hope.
âIt will be a sign of the unique contribution that the Catholic Church offers to commemorate this âBicentennialâ in the light of the historic truth in order to illuminate the current-day situation of Latin America and nourish the hope for a future of peace and justice,â the council said.