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Thursday, May 10, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 10, 2007 (VIS) - During the course of his flight to Brazil yesterday, the Holy Father held his traditional press conference for the journalists accompanying him.

  "I love Latin America very much," said the Pope expressing his joy at having the opportunity to visit the "continent of hope." The aim of this journey, he said, "is specifically religious: to give life in Christ and to [help people become] disciples of Christ."

  Answering a question about liberation theology, the Holy Father recalled that "with the changing political situation, the position of liberation theology is also radically different. It is clear that simplistic forms of millenarianism promising immediate and real conditions of a just life were mistaken. The question now is how the Church must be present in the struggle and the reforms necessary to guarantee conditions of justice. It is precisely on this point that theologians are divided."

  Benedict XVI also spoke of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of San Salvador, murdered in 1980 as he was celebrating Mass. Describing him as "a great witness of the faith," the Pope expressed his conviction that the late archbishop "merits beatification, although his memory must be liberated from the ideological deformations of those who have sought to appropriate it for political reasons."

  Going on to consider the proliferation of religious sects in Latin America, the Holy Father said "they are a sign that people thirst for God. The Church must respond to this need with a highly concrete plan and in the awareness that, apart from announcing the Christian message, it is important to help people achieve just living conditions."

  Replying to a question concerning the Mexican parliament, which has just approved a law in favor of abortion, the Pope highlighted "the need for Christian politicians to remain coherent to their principles." The Church, he said, "announces the Gospel of life; life is a gift and not a threat."

  For his part, Holy See Press office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. made it clear that "the Mexican bishops have not excommunicated those politicians, and neither has Benedict XVI." However, he added, "legislation in favor of abortion is not compatible with participation in the Eucharist." Upon being asked whether this meant that the politicians were effectively excommunicated, Fr. Lombardi said "no, they exclude themselves from communion."

  In his replies to journalists, Benedict XVI had declared that "such excommunication is laid down in the Code, it is not arbitrary, it is simply written in the Code of Canon Law. The death of an innocent, of an unborn child, is inconceivable. It is not arbitrary, and the Church express appreciation for life and for the individuality of life from the first moment of conception."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2007 (VIS) - Today at 4 p.m. (9 p.m. in Rome), the Pope's plane landed at the international airport of Sao Paulo / Guarulhos in Brazil, thus beginning the sixth apostolic trip outside Italy of his pontificate. Benedict XVI was received by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of the Federal Republic of Brazil, accompanied by the civil, military and religious authorities.

  In his welcome address, the Pope affirmed that his visit "has a scope that goes beyond national borders: I have come to preside at the opening Session of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean at Aparecida. This country, in the providence and goodness of the Creator, will become the cradle of the ecclesial proposals that, with God's help, will give renewed vigor and missionary impetus to this continent."

  The fact that Catholics represent a majority in Brazil, he went on, "means that they must make a particular contribution to the common good of the nation. The word solidarity will acquire its full meaning when the living forces of society, each in its own sphere, commit themselves seriously to building a future of peace and hope for all."

  "I am well aware that the soul of this people, as of all Latin America, safeguards values that are radically Christian, which will never be eradicated. I am certain that at Aparecida, during the bishops' general conference, this identity will be reinforced through the promotion of respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature. It will also make the promotion of the human person the axis of solidarity, especially towards the poor and abandoned.

  "The Church," he added, "seeks only to stress the moral values present in each situation and to form the conscience of citizens so that they may make informed and free decisions. She will not fail to insist on the need to take action to ensure that the family, the basic cell of society, is strengthened, and likewise young people, whose formation is a decisive factor for the future of any nation. Last but not least, she will defend and promote the values present at every level of society, especially among indigenous peoples."

  The welcome ceremony over, the Pope travelled by helicopter to the "Campo de Marte" airport in Sao Paulo where he was received by the local authorities. He then went by popemobile to the monastery of Sao Bento where, following a moment of prayer in the chapel, he appeared at the balcony to greet and bless the faithful awaiting him below.
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