Authentic Disciples of Christ and Intrepid Missionaries of His Word
(19 Feb 09 - RV) Pope Benedict met with a delegation from the Pontifical College for
Latin America Thursday, which this year marks the 500th anniversary of its’ founding,
urging them to become authentic disciples of Christ and intrepid missionaries of His
Word. Led by Archbishop Carlos José Ñáñez of Cordoba Argentina, the delegation
of 150 priests and seminarians was welcomed by Pope Benedict to the Clementine Hall.
Pope noted that many of the students at the college are drawn from diverse nations
and cultural realities that make up the continent of South America, but he added all
of us are united by baptism.
He told the men that their time in Rome at the
Pontifical College is a golden opportunity for them to deepen their bond to the Holy
See and Apostolic Succession. He also said that their study in the city where Peter
and Paul courageously proclaimed the Gospel, should serve to further their missionary
impulse to bring the Good News to the peoples of their land.
“The love for
and adhesion to the Apostolic See is one of the most relevant characteristics of the
people of Latin America and the Caribbean” said Pope Benedict recalling his personal
experience of the Church in Latin America, during his 2007 trip to Brazil.
Pope travelled there in May to the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida from where he launched
the “great continental mission” called for by the 5th General Conference of the Bishops
of Latin America and the Caribbean.
While more than 450 million of the region's
551 million people are considered Catholic, the practice of the Christian faith is
experiencing a crisis. It is hoped that the mission will draw people back to the Church,
which has lost members because of the missionary zeal of sects and increasing materialism.
to a theme that he highlighted in his discourse to the region’s bishops, Pope Benedict
told the young students Thursday that they must root everything in Christ. He urged
them to preach fervently so that people may come to know and intimately understand
Christ, he urged a more frequent participation in the Sunday celebrations of every
community and he urged the priests to become transparent witnesses of Christ, because,
concluded Pope Benedict, only by converting to Him can we become effective instruments
for a “New Evangelization”.