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Monday, May 14, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2007 (VIS) - At 10.45 a.m. local time today, the Pope met with members of the "Fazenda da Esperanca" community in Guaratingueta, an institute for the rehabilitation of people with problems of drug and alcohol abuse.

  Following a few brief remarks from Br. Hans Stapel, founder of the "Nossa Senhora de Gloria" charity, the Holy Father greeted volunteers and benefactors of the "Fazenda" communities in various countries, as well as relatives of the young people who seek help there.

  Through the "Fazenda" institution, said Pope Benedict, "the Lord has given you this opportunity for physical and spiritual recovery, so vital for you and your families. In turn, society expects you to spread this precious gift of health among your friends and all the members of the community."

  "You must be ambassadors of hope," he added. "Brazil's statistics concerning drug abuse and other forms of chemical dependency are very high. The same is true of Latin America in general. I therefore urge the drug-dealers to reflect on the grave harm they are inflicting on countless young people and on adults at every level of society: God will call you to account for your deeds. Human dignity cannot be trampled upon in this way."

  Having expressed his appreciation for this work, "which has the charism of St. Francis and the spirituality of the 'Focolare' Movement as its spiritual foundation," the Holy Father said: "Reintegration in society undoubtedly demonstrates the effectiveness of your initiative. Yet it is the conversions, the rediscovery of God and active participation in the life of the Church which attract even greater attention and which confirm the importance of your work. It is not enough to care for the body, we must adorn the soul with the most precious divine gifts acquired through Baptism."

  Benedict XVI thanked "all those who contribute materially and spiritually to enable the charity 'Nossa Senhora da Gloria' to continue its work. ... My thoughts turn now to those many other institutions throughout the world which work to rebuild and renew the lives of these brothers and sisters of ours present in our midst, whom God loves with a preferential love. I am also thinking," he concluded, "of groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as well as the sobriety associations working generously in many communities to build up the lives of others."

  Returning to the "Bom Jesus" seminary, the Pope lunched with representatives of the presidency of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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