Benedict in Brazil (III) (Update)

Today is the last and climactic day of the Pope's stay in Brazil.

This morning he celebrated Mass at the shrine of our Lady of Aparecida. And this afternoon he delivered an address, formally opening the Fifth General Assembly of CELAM.

At the Regina Coeli following the Mass, the Pope spoke not only in Portugese, but in Spanish, French, and English as well.

There is a report from Emer McCarthy on the web page of Vatican Radio. One can hear the voice of the Holy Father in English, and the heart of his message: "Nothing is more beautiful than to know Christ."

John Allen quotes from the CELAM address:

The Marxist system, where it found its way into government, not only left a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction, but also a painful destruction of the human spirit. And we can also see the same thing happening in the West, where the distance between rich and poor is growing constantly, and giving rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs, alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness.

Allen summarizes the Pope's stance:

[T]he greatest contribution the Catholic church can make is to credibly and passionately proclaim Christ. People who order their lives on Christ, he argued, naturally pursue the values of peace and justice.

The Pope's lengthy address opening the CELAM assembly is now available.

Here is one section of the address:

The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean have the right to a full life, proper to the children of God, under conditions that are more human: free from the threat of hunger and from every form of violence. For these peoples, their Bishops must promote a culture of life which can permit, in the words of my predecessor Paul VI, "the passage from misery towards the possession of necessities the acquisition of culture cooperation for the common good the acknowledgement by man of supreme values, and of God, their source and their finality" ("Populorum Progressio," 21).

In this context I am pleased to recall the Encyclical "Populorum Progressio," the fortieth anniversary of which we celebrate this year. This Papal document emphasizes that authentic development must be integral, that is, directed to the promotion of the whole person and of all people (cf. No. 14), and it invites all to overcome grave social inequalities and the enormous differences in access to goods. These peoples are yearning, above all, for the fullness of life that Christ brought us: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). With this divine life, human existence is likewise developed to the full, in its personal, family, social and cultural dimensions.

In order to form the disciple and sustain the missionary in his great task, the Church offers him, in addition to the bread of the word, the bread of the Eucharist. In this regard, we find inspiration and illumination in the passage from the Gospel about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. When they sit at table and receive from Jesus Christ the bread that has been blessed and broken, their eyes are opened and they discover the face of the Risen Lord, they feel in their hearts that everything he said and did was the truth, and that the redemption of the world has already begun to unfold. Every Sunday and every Eucharist is a personal encounter with Christ. Listening to Gods word, our hearts burn because it is he who is explaining and proclaiming it. When we break the bread at the Eucharist, it is he whom we receive personally. The Eucharist is indispensable nourishment for the life of the disciple and missionary of Christ.

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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