Catholic World News News Feature
Pope to visit Brazil for CELAM meeting October 18, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit Brazil in May 2007, to attend the 5th general convention of the Latin American bishops' conference CELAM.
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile, the president of CELAM, disclosed plans for the papal visit during an October 18 meeting with reporters in Rome, where he is participating in the Synod of Bishops.
The Chilean cardinal indicated that it is possible that Pope Benedict might make other stops in the Western hemisphere during the trip that would take him to Brazil.
Cardinal Errazuriz met with Pope Benedict in a private audience on October 14, along with Cardinals Claudio Hummer of Sao Paolo, Brazil; Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Pedro Rubiano Saenz of Bogota, Colombia. During that meeting, the Chilean prelate reported, the Pontiff expressed his desire to attend the 2007 CELAM meeting, which will be held at the Marian shrine at Aparecida, Brazil.
Cardinal Errazuriz said that the bishops' conferences of Latin America have been considering plans for a new general meeting of CELAM since 2001. He added that the Latin American bishops did not wish to act independently of the Pope, noting that Pope John Paul II had approved tentative plans for the gathering in 2007. Shortly after the election of Pope Benedict, CELAM leaders conferred with the new Pope to seek his approval for the theme of the gathering, which aims to stimulate reflections on the Church's missionary effort in the context of poverty and pluralism.
In August of this year, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga said that CELAM was waiting for the Pope's response to the group's invitation before finalizing plans. Cardinal Errazuriz said that the Latin American bishops had proposed a meeting at Aparecida, a noted Marian shrine, because Pope John Paul II had already visited the region's other internationally famous shrine at Guadalupe, Mexico. The CELAM representatives suggested a meeting in May, he added, because the weather at that time should not be oppressively hot in that section of Brazil.
Since the Pope's trip to Cologne, Germany, for World Youth Day festitivities in August-- his only trip abroad thus far in his pontificate-- the Vatican has not formally announced any other plans for papal travel. However, it is likely that the Pope will travel to Poland in June 2006, as he himself suggested during a television interview broadcast in Poland last Sunday.
The Pontiff is also expected to visit Turkey in November of next year, fulfilling plans for a trip that he had originally hoped to make in 2005. There is also some discussion of the prospect for a papal visit to Spain in July 2006, for a conference on the family.