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Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission

VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - Benedict XVI is encouraging Latin America's "continental mission," urging deacons and priests to enthusiastically adopt the spirit of evangelization. The Pope made this invitation today when he received members of the Latin American Pontifical Pius College, who were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the institution. The college is dedicated to the formation of seminarians, deacons and priests. The Holy Father lauded the heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean, marked by "love and adherence to the Apostolic See." Noting that characteristic, he said, made him recall the days in 2007 that he spent in Aparecida, Brazil, for the meeting of bishops of the continent. "I saw the manifestations of collegiality and fraternal communion in the episcopal ministry of the representatives of the episcopal conferences of those noble countries," the Pontiff said. "With my presence there, I wished to encourage the bishops in their reflection on something fundamental to enliven the faith of the pilgrim Church in those beloved lands: to lead all our faithful to be 'disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that, in him, our peoples have life.' "I invite you to associate yourselves with enthusiasm to that spirit, demonstrated in the dynamism with which all those dioceses have initiated, or are doing, the 'continental Mission,' promoted in Aparecida, an initiative that will facilitate the start of catechetical and pastoral programs destined to the formation and development of evangelized and missionary Christian communities." "Accompany these intentions with your fervent prayer," the Bishop of Rome encouraged, "so that the faithful will know, dedicate themselves and increasingly imitate Jesus Christ, taking part frequently in the Sunday celebrations of each community and witnessing to him, so that they become effective instruments of that 'New Evangelization,' to which the Servant of God John Paul II, my venerated predecessor, repeatedly convoked."

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