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Papal goal: "missionary impetus" for Latin Church May 10, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI called for "renewed vigor and missionary impetus" in the Church throughout Latin America, in the first public address of his apostolic visit to Brazil.

Speaking at an airport welcoming ceremony shortly after his arrival in Sao Paulo on May 9, the Holy Father reminded his audience that the primary purpose of his trip was to address a meeting of the Latin American bishops' conference, CELAM. Thus his visit is not only to Brazil, he said, but to an entire continent.

The culture of that continent, the Pontiff continued, is "radically Christian" in its fundamental principles. He said that he was confident the CELAM meeting in Aparecida will reinforce those Christian principles, including "the promotion of respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature." The CELAM meeting, he continued, "will also make the promotion of the human person the axis of solidarity, especially towards the poor and abandoned. The Pope was welcomed to Brazil by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, who greeted the papal flight as it landed in Sao Paulo/Guarulhos airport after the 12-hour trip from Rome. After the welcoming ceremony there, the Pope continued by helicopter to the city of Sao Paulo, where he spent the night at the Sao Bento monastery, appearing briefly on the balcony to give his blessing to the crowd in the street below.

About 3,500 journalists are covering the papal trip, including 71 who traveled on the Alitalia flight that brought the Pontiff from Rome. Along with journalists accredited to the Vatican press office, the flight carried 23 reporters from television and radio, and 35 print journalists. The latter number included 11 Italians, 5 Americans, 4 Frenchmen, 3 Germans, 3 Spaniards, 2 Brazilians, an Englishman, a Mexican, and a Russian.

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