VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2011
Yesterday afternoon Benedict XVI presided at Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of Latin America. The ceremony, which was intended to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the independence of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, was concelebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrasco, archbishop of Mexico, Mexico, and Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil.
Before the Eucharistic celebration Guzman Carriquiry, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, read out a number of texts on the anniversary and the Virgin of Guadalupe, while Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, recited a prayer for Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In his homily the Pope said that everyone celebrating the bicentenary, apart from recalling "the historical, social and political aspects of those events, should renew their gratitude to the Almighty for the great gift of faith they have received, a faith which announces the redeeming mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that all peoples of the earth might have life in Him. Peter's Successor could not let this anniversary pass without expressing the Church's joy at the copious gifts which God, in His infinite goodness, has poured upon those beloved nations over the years".
"The venerated image of 'la Morenita del Tepeyac' ... with simplicity and a mother's heart, continues to show us the one Light, the one Truth: her Son Jesus Christ. He is the definitive response to the question about the meaning of life and to the fundamental doubts which, today too afflict, so many men and women of the American continent".
"Integration on that beloved continent is currently proceeding hand in hand with its emerging importance on the world stage. ... It is important for its various peoples to safeguard their rich store of faith and their historical and cultural dynamism, always defending human life from conception to natural end, and promoting peace. Likewise, they must protect the family in its genuine form and mission, and intensify their educational efforts. ... They are also called to foment initiatives ... aimed at bringing reconciliation and fraternity, increasing solidarity and protecting the environment, while making greater efforts to overcome poverty, illiteracy and corruption, and eradicating all injustice, violence, criminality, urban insecurity, drug trafficking and extortion".
"When the Church was preparing to celebrate the 'plantatio' of the Cross of Christ in the good earth of the American continent, Blessed John Paul II went to that land where, for the first time, he formulated plans for a new evangelisation, new 'in its ardour, its methods and its expression'", Pope Benedict recalled. "It is my responsibility to confirm people in the faith, and I too wish to encourage the apostolic efforts currently driving ... the 'continental mission' promoted at Aparecida, that Christianity may sink its roots deeper into the hearts of individuals and peoples in Latin America".
"May the light of Christ shine ever more brightly in the face of each of the sons and daughters of that beloved land, and may His redeeming grace guide their decisions, that they may unwaveringly continue to build a society founded on the triumph of goodness, the proliferation of love and the spread of justice. With these desires, and supported by divine Providence, before Easter I intend to make an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba, in order to proclaim the Word of Christ there, and convince people that this is the time to evangelise with strong faith, living hope and burning charity".
"All these intentions", Benedict XVI concluded, "along with the destiny of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and their journey towards a better future, I entrust to the loving mediation of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I also invoke the intercession of the many saints and blesseds, aroused by the Spirit over the centuries to offer heroic models of Christian virtues in their various life states and social environments, that their example may favour a new evangelisation under the gaze of Christ, the Saviour of man".
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