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Monday, December 10, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the International Congress "Ecclesia in America" on the Church in the American continent was inaugurated with a Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica. The congress was organised by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Knights of Columbus in collaboration with the Institute for Guadalupan Studies, and will be inspired by the work of the Synodal Assembly, convoked by Blessed John Paul II in November and December 1987, entitled "Encounter with the living Jesus Christ: The way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America".

The Holy Father, who arrived at the Basilica at 7 p.m., greeted the participants, first recalling that "Blessed John Paul II had the foresight and intuition to improve the relationships of cooperation between the particular Churches throughout North, Central and South America, at the same time facilitating greater solidarity among the nations of the continent. Today these themes merit review in order to put Christ's redeeming message into practice with greater diligence, in the hope of reaping abundant rewards of sanctity and ecclesial renewal. The theme that guided the reflections of the Synodal Assembly can also serve as an inspiration for your work during these days. ... 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 Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in America" focuses on "current challenges and difficulties which present specific and complex characteristics. Indeed, secularism and various religious groups are spreading throughout the continent, giving rise to numerous problems. Education and the promotion of a culture of life are matters of fundamental urgency in view of a widespread mentality that tends to attack the dignity of the person and damage the institution of marriage and family. How can one fail to be concerned about painful situations of emigration, displacement or violence, especially when linked to organised crime, narcotrafficking, corruption and arms dealing? And how should we face the painful inequalities and areas of poverty caused by questionable economic, political and social measures?"

The Pope emphasised that all these important questions require careful study, "yet in addition to their technical evaluation, 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. ... 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 we ought to take up this commitment, ... encouraging priests, deacons and consecrated men and women and pastoral agents 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. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the Word of God and the Church's Magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. ... 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", concluded the Pope.

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