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Latin American Conference
Pope encourages Latin America to deepen Catholic identity
CELAM conference to define main priorities and spark new missionary fervor

.- On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI met with the Apostolic Nuncios of Latin America at the conclusion of the preparatory meeting for the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM), reminding them that the true identity of the Latin American countries was created by the encounter between their cultures and the Christian faith.

“The encounter between these cultures and the faith in Christ was an answer for which such cultures awaited interiorly (…), an encounter that should be deepened and that has created the true identity of the peoples of Latin America,” the Holy Father said.
 
Referring to the upcoming CELAM meeting in May in Brazil, the Pontiff noted that it’s purpose would be “to define the main priorities and to awaken a renewed fervor for the mission of the Church in service of the Latin American peoples in the concrete circumstances of the beginning of the 21st century.”

Regarding the relationship between the Church and the different states in Latin America, the Pope added, “The Church, sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race, is naturally in tune with the legitimate aspirations of the people for greater harmony and cooperation, contributing that which is proper to her, the Gospel.”

“The Catholic Church is the institution that enjoys the greatest credibility among the Latin American peoples,” the Pope continued.  “She is active in the lives of the people, esteemed for the work she carries out in the diverse fields of education, health care and solidarity with those who are most poor.”

The challenge for the Church, he said, is to “reaffirm her adherence to Christ, in order to bear witness to a mature faith that is full of joy.  The spiritual potential of Latin America is truly enormous, where the mysteries of the faith are celebrated with fervent devotion and trust in the future is nourished by the growth of priestly and religious vocations.”

“An immense missionary and evangelistic potential is offered by young people, who constitute more than two-thirds of the population, while the family continues to be a primordial characteristic of the Latin American culture,” the Pope went on.

The Holy Father also said special attention should be paid to “lobbies capable of adversely affecting the legislative process.  Divorce and civil unions increase, while adultery is observed with unjustifiable tolerance.”

“It must be reaffirmed,” he continued, “that marriage and the family have their basis in the most intimate nucleus of the truth about man and his destiny; only upon the rock of stable and faithful conjugal love, between a man and a woman, can a community worthy of the human being be built.”

Lastly, the Pope also underscored the work of the Church in “caring for values and for the conscience in order to form mature lay people, in educating young people with appropriate vocational plans, in being committed to adequately informing public opinion about the great ethical questions according to the principles of the Magisterium of the Church and in having an effective presence in the media in order to respond to the challenge of religious sects.  The ecclesial movements most certainly constitute a valid resource for the apostolate,” the Pope stressed.


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