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Saturday, May 12, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2007 (VIS) - Today, Saturday May 12, having celebrated Mass privately in the chapel of the "Bom Jesus" seminary, the Pope will visit the church of the "Fazenda da Esperanca" in Guaratingueta.

  He will then go on to meet members of the "Fazenda da Esperanca" community, which is dedicated to the rehabilitation of people with problems of drug abuse.

  At midday he will return to the "Bom Jesus" seminary for lunch with representatives of the presidency of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.

  At 6 p.m. (11 p.m. in Rome), he will travel to the shrine of Aparecida to pray the Rosary and meet with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons of Brazil.


VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2007 (VIS) - The cathedral of "da Se" (an abbreviation of "episcopal see") in Sao Paulo was the stage for Benedict XVI's meeting today with bishops of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil. The monumental neo-Gothic building, dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, is one of the largest in the world and can accommodate up to 8,000 people. It stands exactly upon the Tropic of Capricorn on the same site as the old cathedral of 1745. In the crypt is the tomb of Chief Tibirica, the first indigenous Brazilian to be catechized, by Fr. Jose de Anchieta in the 16th century.

  The Holy Father arrived at the cathedral shortly before 4 p.m. local time and greeted the 430 bishops gathered there, expressing his joy at meeting such "a prestigious episcopate, which presides over one of the largest Catholic populations of the world."

  "The mission entrusted to us as masters of the faith," he said in his homily, "consists in recalling that our Savior 'desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.' ... From here comes the commandment to evangelize, ... the obligation to preach the truth of faith, the importance of sacramental life, the promise of Christ's continual help for His Church."

  "Wherever God and His will are unknown, wherever there is no faith in Jesus Christ and in His presence in the sacramental rites, there the essential element for solving urgent social and political problems is also missing. Faithfulness to the primacy of God and of His will, known and lived in communion with Jesus Christ, is the essential gift that we bishops and priests must offer to our people."

  Benedict XVI then went on to consider some of the difficulties currently facing the Brazilian Church. "Social life," he said, "is going through periods of worrying disorientation. The sanctity of marriage and the family is attacked with impunity, primarily by making concessions to pressures that can have a negative influence on legislative processes. Certain crimes against life are being justified in the name of the right to individual freedom; the dignity of human beings is attacked; the scourge of divorce and of extra-marital unions is increasingly widespread.

  "Moreover," he added, "when, in the bosom of the Church, doubts are raised concerning the value of priestly commitment as total dedication to God through apostolic celibacy and as complete willingness to serve souls, and preference is accorded to ideological and political questions, even party questions, then the structure of total consecration to God begins to lose its most profound meaning."

  The Pope then turned to consider "the question of Catholics who abandon ecclesial life," identifying the principal cause of this phenomenon in "the lack of a form of evangelization in which Christ and His Church are at the core of all explanations. ... The people most vulnerable to the aggressive proselytism of sects ... are, in general, the baptized who have not been sufficiently evangelized, easily influenced because they have a fragile and, at times, confused faith, vacillating and ingenuous, even if they do conserve an inborn religiosity."

  Quoting his own Encyclical "Deus caritas est," the Holy Father said: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." It is therefore necessary, he continued, for the Church in Brazil "to undertake apostolic activity as a true mission, ... promoting methodical and capillary evangelization with a view to [encouraging] individual and community adherence to Christ."

  "In this evangelizing effort, the ecclesial community must promote pastoral initiatives, sending lay and religious missionaries above all to the city outskirts and to the interior, seeking to establish dialogue with everyone in a spirit of understanding and thoughtful charity. ... If people are living in situations of poverty, it is necessary to help them as the first Christian communities did, practicing solidarity so that they truly feel they are loved. The poor ... need to feel the proximity of the Church, in terms of assistance for their most pressing needs, defense of their rights and the joint promotion of a society founded on justice and peace."

  The Pope then remarked upon the importance of sacramental life, referring specifically to the Sacrament of Penance and calling on the bishops to ensure "that the confession and absolution of sins remains, normally, individual, just as sin itself is a profoundly personal act." Bishops, he went on, "are primarily responsible for diocesan catechesis," and hence must "surround themselves with competent and trustworthy collaborators. ... Faith is a journey led by the Holy Spirit that can be summed up in two words: conversion and discipleship." Apart from indicating that "faith in Christ entails a way of living founded on the twofold commandment to love God and neighbor," these two words also "express the social dimension of life."

  "Precisely because faith, life, and the celebration of the sacred liturgy ... are inseparable, there is need for a more correct implementation of the liturgical principles as indicated by Vatican Council II ... so as to restore to the liturgy its sacred character. ... 'Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated'."

  The Pope then reminded the bishops of their task to be "faithful servants of the Word, eschewing any reductive or mistaken vision of the mission entrusted to us. It is not enough to look at reality solely from the viewpoint of personal faith; we must work with the Gospel in our hands and anchor ourselves in the authentic heritage of the Apostolic Tradition, free from any interpretations motivated by rationalistic ideologies. ... The duty to preserve the deposit of faith and safeguard its unity calls for strict vigilance so that the faith may be 'preserved and handed down with fidelity and so that particular insights are clearly integrated into the one Gospel of Christ'."

  "Ecumenism - or the search for unity among Christians - has become in our time an increasingly urgent task for the Catholic Church. ... The greatest area of common ground for collaboration should be the defense of fundamental moral values -transmitted by the biblical tradition - against the relativistic and consumerist cultural forces that seek to destroy them. Another such area is faith in God the Creator and in Jesus Christ His incarnate Son."

  In closing, Benedict XVI mentioned "the vast cross-section of Brazilians living in need and the great inequalities in income, even at the highest levels of society. ... A vision of the economy and social problems from the perspective of the Church's social teaching should always bring us to consider things from the viewpoint of human dignity, which transcends the simple interplay of economic factors."

  "There is a need to form a genuine spirit of truthfulness and honesty among the political and commercial classes. Those who take on leadership roles in society must try to foresee the social consequences .... of their own decisions, always acting according to the criteria that will maximize the common good, rather than merely seeking personal profit."
PV-BRAZIL/BISHOPS/SAO PAULO                VIS 20070512 (1210)


VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2007 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today (2.30 p.m. in Rome) the Pope presided at Mass in Sao Paulo's "Campo de Marte" in the presence of a million people. During the ceremony he canonized Blessed Antonio de Santa Ana (ne Antonio Galvao de Franca, 1739-1822), a Franciscan priest who founded the "Recolhimento" (Retreat) of Our Lady of the Conception and Divine Providence, today known as the Convent of Light.

  Beginning his homily, the Holy Father addressed a special greeting to the Conceptionist nuns who, he said, "spread the spirituality and charism of the first Brazilian to be raised to the glory of the altars."

  "The Franciscan charism, lived out in the spirit of the Gospel," he went on, "has borne significant fruits through [Frei Galvao's] witness as an ardent adorer of the Eucharist, as a prudent and wise guide of the souls who sought his counsel, and as a man with a great devotion to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, whose 'son and perpetual servant' he considered himself to be."

  "The Holy Eucharist," said the Pope, "contains all the spiritual wealth of the Church," and Christians "must come to know the faith of the Church through her ordained ministers, through the exemplary manner in which they carry out the prescribed rites that always point to the eucharistic liturgy as the center of the entire task of evangelization. The faithful, in their turn, must seek to receive and to venerate the Most Holy Sacrament with piety and devotion, eager to welcome the Lord Jesus with faith, and having recourse, whenever necessary, to the Sacrament of Penance so as to purify the soul from every grave sin."

  Frei Galvao "was renowned as a counsellor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and families, and a dispenser of charity especially towards the poor and the sick. ... The conversion of sinners was therefore the great passion of our saint."

  "United with the Lord in the supreme communion of the Eucharist and reconciled with Him and our neighbor, we will thus become bearers of that peace which the world cannot give. Will the men and women of this world be able to find peace if they are not aware of the need to be reconciled with God, with their neighbor and with themselves?"

  "Renown of the immense charity" of the Franciscan saint "knew no bounds," said the Holy Father, pointing out that "pastoral initiatives for the building up of society, if directed towards the good of the poor and the sick, bear within themselves this divine seal," that of the love of God Who died on the Cross to save us.

  "Frei Galvao prophetically affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception. ... The Virgin Most Pure, who conceived in her womb the Redeemer of mankind and was preserved from all stain of original sin, wishes to be the definitive seal of our encounter with God our Saviour. There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady. In fact, the saint that we are celebrating gave himself irrevocably to the Mother of Jesus from his youth, desiring to belong to her for ever, and he chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother and Protector of his spiritual daughters."

  "The world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to be perceived as mere objects of pleasure. It is necessary to oppose those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and of virginity before marriage. ... Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation."

  At the end of his homily, the Holy Father invited the faithful to give thanks to God for the gift of sanctity "which, together with faith, is the greatest grace that can be bestowed upon a creature: the firm desire to attain the fullness of charity, in the conviction that holiness is not only possible but also necessary for every person in his or her own state of life, so as to reveal to the world the true face of Christ, our friend!"

  Following Mass, the Holy Father travelled by car to the monastery of Sao Bento, where he had lunch. In the afternoon, before leaving for the "da Se" cathedral for his meeting with Brazilian bishops, he bid farewell to the monks.
PV-BRAZIL/CANONIZATION/SAO PAULO            VIS 20070512 (750)

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