BENEDICT XVI CONCLUDES HIS APOSTOLIC TRIP TO BRAZIL

VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly before 8 p.m. yesterday (1 a.m. this morning in Rome), Benedict XVI arrived at the international airport of Sao Paulo / Guarulhos where he was greeted by Jose Alencar Gomes da Silva, vice-president of the Federal Republic of Brazil, Archbishop Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo, Bishop Luiz Gonzaga Bergonzini of Guarulhos, and other civil and religious authorities.

The Pope pronounced a brief departure speech in which he expressed his satisfaction at having had the opportunity to inaugurate the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Brazilian city of Aparecida. "The signs of enthusiasm and the deep piety of this people of the Land of the Holy Cross will remain for ever impressed in my memory," he said. "Together with so many pilgrims from the length and breadth of the continent of hope, they have given whole-hearted proof of their faith in Christ and their love for the Successor of Peter.

"I pray," he added, "that the Lord will assist religious and civil leaders to give renewed impulse to the initiatives that are awaited by all for the common good of the great Latin American family."

Having praised the work of consular and religious authorities during his pastoral visit, the Holy Father concluded by thanking everyone for having "contributed to the splendor of these days, filling those taking part with joy and hope - 'gaudium et spes!' - for the Christian family and for its mission in society."

The Pope's plane took off at 8.55 p.m., landing at Rome's Ciampino airport at 12.30 p.m. local time. From the airport, the Pope travelled directly to the apostolic palace at Castelgandolfo where he is due to remain until Friday, May 18.
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Church grows by attraction, not proselytism, Pope says

Aparecida, May 13, 2007 (CNA).- The Church grows by the energy of Christ’s love and not by the power of ideologies, Pope Benedict XVI said on Sunday morning, during the inauguration of the 5th General Conference of Latin American Bishops at the Marian shrine of Aparecida, Brazil.

Addressing a crowd of more than 300,000, including the some 200 Latin American cardinals and bishops arrived for the meeting that will last until May 31, the Pope said that “Mary welcomes us to this Upper Room and, as our Mother and Teacher, helps us to pray trustingly to God with one voice.”

Commenting on the Sunday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Benedict said, “Church’s leaders discuss and argue, but in a constant attitude of religious openness to Christ’s word in the Holy Spirit.”

“This,” he said, “is the ‘method’ by which we operate in the Church, whether in small gatherings or in great ones. It is not only question of procedure: it is a reflection of the Church’s very nature as a mystery of communion with Christ in the Holy Spirit.”

The Latin American Bishops will discuss the future of the new evangelization in the region and will draft a document aimed at guiding their pastoral policies for the next decade. Addressing the Latin American Bishops, the Pope said, “To you who represent the Church in Latin America, today I symbolically entrust my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, in which I sought to point out to everyone the essence of the Christian message.”
He then explained that the Church “does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by ‘attraction’,” “just as Christ draws all to himself by the power of his love.”

Benedict XVI stressed then that “this is the priceless treasure that is so abundant in Latin America, this is her most precious inheritance: faith in the God who is Love, who has shown us his face in Jesus Christ.”

“This is the faith that has made America the Continent of Hope. Not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic system: faith in the God who is Love,” the Pope added, sparking a long applause from the crowd that included large delegations from South American countries.

Recalling Pope John Paul

The Pontiff went on to remind those present, “Pope John Paul II called you to a new evangelization, and you accepted his commission with your customary generosity and commitment.” “I now confirm it with you, and in the words of this Fifth Conference I say to you: be faithful disciples, so as to be courageous and effective missionaries!”

“Through the prayers of the Virgin Mary, may the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean be abundantly clothed with power from on high,” he said in closing.

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