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Thursday, February 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 150 members of the community of the Pius Pontifical Latin American College in Rome. The institution, "alma mater" to more than four thousand students, was founded in 1858, originally as a centre for seminarians and, over the last three decades, for deacons and priests.

  The Pope described the members of the community as heirs "to a rich human and spiritual heritage, which must be perpetuated and enriched by a serious dedication to the various ecclesiastical disciplines and a joyful experience of the universality of the Church".

  Highlighting the fact that the seminarians are the fruit "of the sowing of Christ's message of redemption over history", the Holy Father recalled how they come from various countries "in which for more than five hundred years courageous missionaries made Jesus, our Saviour, known to people. Thus, through Baptism, those people opened themselves to the life of grace which made them adopted children of God. Furthermore, they received the Holy Spirit which made their cultures fruitful, purifying them, developing the seeds that the incarnate Word had placed in them, and guiding them along the paths of the Gospel".

  "Your bishops", he told his audience, "have sent you to the Pontifical Latin American College that you may be filled with the wisdom of the crucified Christ and that, returning to your dioceses, you may place this treasure at the disposal of others through the various tasks you will be given. This means that you must put your time in Rome to good use. Application to study and rigorous research ... will create in you a spiritual life rooted in the Word of God and nourished by the incomparable richness of the Sacraments.

  "Love for and adherence to the Apostolic See is one of the most outstanding characteristics of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean", the Pope added before going on to recall his own 2007 visit to the Brazilian city of Aparecida for the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean. "Through my presence there", he said, "I sought to encourage bishops as they reflected on a fundamental aspect of the revival of the faith of the pilgrim Church in those beloved lands: that of leading all the faithful to become 'disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life'".

  In closing, the Holy Father invited the members of the Pontifical College "enthusiastically to embrace this spirit, already manifest in the dynamism with which dioceses have begun, or are beginning, the 'Continental Mission' proclaimed at Aparecida, an initiative that will facilitate the implementation of catechetical and pastoral programmes aimed at the formation and development of evangelised and missionary-oriented Christian communities".

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