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Thursday, September 9, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2004  (VIS) - Made public today was a message from the Holy Father to Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil, and to the other bishops, priests, religious and lay people in the country on the occasion of the centenary of the coronation of Our Lady of Aparecida, queen and patron of Brazil.

  The message, dated July 17, was read yesterday during a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the shrine in Aparecida by Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales, archbishop emeritus of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, who presided at the Mass.

  After recalling that Pope Pius X crowned Our Lady as queen of Brazil in 1904, John Paul II writes that "Our Lady's patronage of a nation is not possible without the cooperation of those being protected by her, and implies their free consent which is renewed every day; it implies that they are worthy of this patronage, incarnate in a commitment of life inspired by the profound and solid certainties of the faith."

  Addressing in particular the bishops, the Pope underscored the importance of  "engaging in the ancient Marian devotion of your people with a truly pastoral spirit. … Whether or not this devotion becomes a way to encounter God in Jesus Christ through the faith depends on the example of the pastors and agents of pastoral care."

  "Therefore, " he concludes, " help the faithful to live their Marian devotion as a clear and brave testimony of love for Christ, which shows the personal and communitarian identity of Catholics, while combating the danger of secularism and consumerism and which, at the same time, promotes the practice of Christian virtues in families. In the same way, this devotion will help to consolidate the bonds of communion with the pastors of the Church of Christ, addressing the fragmentation of the faith, often caused by the proselytism of other sects."

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