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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pope Benedict to Visit Cuba and Mexico Before Easter 2012

From Vatican Radio

In a special liturgy Monday evening in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI entrusted to Our Lady of Guadalupe the people of Latin America and reiterated the right of the unborn to live, while urging nations to effectively confront the social and public justice challenges that face them.

The Pope also announced his intention to make an apostolic journey to Cuba and Mexico ahead of Easter next year. Pope Benedict said that he desired to make the trip in order to "preach the Word of Christ" and to confirm anew that now is the time to proclaim the Gospel with true faith, living hope, and ardent charity.

The Holy Father was presiding the special mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – the patron saint of Latin American countries who are also marking in these days the bicentennial of their independence from colonial powers.

In preparation for Monday’s liturgy, pairs of young people dressed in colourful traditional costumes processed down the central nave, bearing the flags of the different countries that make up Latin America, fanning out around the central altar and stopping briefly to pay homage to an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe prominently on display there.

In a sense, the liturgy was the Pope’s way of joining on-going celebrations throughout Latin America as countries mark their own national anniversaries of independence. Many are commemorating two hundred years of freedom in the period between 2008 to 2024.

And St. Peter’s basilica was bursting with Latino Americans who’d come to celebrate the Eucharist with the Holy Father: Cardinals and Bishops; diplomats accredited to the Holy See from North and Central America, from South America and the Caribbean/Antilles; religious and students living in Rome and even Vatican employees from Latin America.

Punctuating the Spanish, Portoghese and Latin liturgy: uplifting hymns sung by the Sistine Chapel Choir alternating with the rich and rhythmic Latino beat of maestro Fabrizio Barchi’s choir performing hymns from Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez’s “Misa Criolla:”

In his homily, Pope Benedict recalled the bicentenary of emancipation of Latin America and noted how the “pathway towards integration of that beloved Continent continues.” At the same time, he reflected, this Continent is emerging with a “new protagonism” on the world scene.

“It is important,” the Holy Father said, “ that her different peoples safeguard their rich wealth of faith and their historic-cultural dynamism,” and that they continue to act “as defendors of human life from conception to natural death, and to be promoters of peace.”

The Pope called on Latin Americans to “protect the family in its authentic nature and mission, intensifying at the same time a vast and widespread educational network that will correctly prepare people and will make them understand their capabilities so that they can confront their destiny in a dignified and responsible way.”

He urged Latin Americans to promote more “numerous and effective programs” to “facilitate reconciliation and brotherhood, to increase solidarity and care for the environment.” At the same time, he said, it is necessary that they also “reinforce…efforts to overcome poverty, illiteracy and corruption and eradicate injustice, violence, crime, unsafe public environments, drug trafficking and extortion.”

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