Pope Speaks in Defense of Life
Hopes Latin America Will Rediscover Christian Values
SĂO PAULO, Brazil, MAY 10, 2007 (Zenit) - Upon landing in Brazil, the destination of his sixth apostolic trip, Benedict XVI defended life, the family and the Catholic identity of Latin America.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was on hand today as the Pope arrived at the Guarulhos International Airport in Săo Paulo.
In his first address on the ground, the Holy Father manifested his appreciation for Brazil, "not only because it was born Christian and has today the largest number of Catholics, but above all because it is a nation endowed with a rich potential and an ecclesial presence that gives joy and hope to the whole Church."
Benedict XVI traveled to Brazil to open the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean in Aparecida. The conference begins Sunday.
The Pontiff said in his opening address that the country will be the "cradle of the ecclesial proposals that, with God's help, will give renewed vigor and missionary impetus to this continent."
The Pope noted that Catholics comprise the majority of Latin Americans and said, "This means that they must make a particular contribution to the common good."
The Holy Father added, "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."
Benedict XVI, referring to the missionary theme of the Aparecida conference, said that the Church, "transformed by the Holy Spirit, is called to become a witness before the world of the love of the Father who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son."
The Holy Father added, "From here springs her deep commitment to the mission of evangelization at the service of the cause of peace and justice."
The Pope pointed out that his trip "has a fundamentally religious significance."
He said: "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."
Benedict XVI added that the conference "will also make the promotion of the human person the axis of solidarity, especially toward the poor and abandoned."
The Pope added: "The Church seeks only to stress the moral values present in each situation and to form the conscience of the 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."
President Silva underlined in his welcoming words the collaboration of the Church against hunger and poverty, and the necessity to defend the family, and promote education among the youth.
From the airport the Benedict XVI flew via helicopter to the Campo de Marte Airport in Săo Paulo. He then traveled 5 kilometers (3 miles) by "popemobile" to the Monastery of St. Benedict. The streets were lined with people waiting in the rain to greet the Holy Father.
On Thursday the Pope will make a formal visit to Silva, attend a meeting with representatives of other Christian confessions and religions, and in the afternoon he will preside over an encounter with young people in the Pacaembu Stadium.
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Pope, Benedict, Brazil, Life, Abortion
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