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At Aparecida shrine, Pope recalls Latin American bishops' call to evangelization

Catholic World News - July 24, 2013

During a July 24 pilgrimage to Brazil's most beloved Marian sanctuary, Pope Francis recalled the call for evangelization all across Latin America, which had been issued by the bishops of that region at a historic meeting there in 2007.

Celebrating Mass at the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida-- which is now the most-visited Marian shrine in the world-- the Pope spoke about the "continental mission" proclaimed by the Latin American bishops' conference CELAM. "Something beautiful took place here, which I witnessed at first hand," the Pope said. "That conference was a great moment of Church."

The Pope-- who, as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, had been a leading figure in the preparation of CELAM's exhortation at Aparecida-- said that during the meeting the Latin American bishops had "felt encouraged, supported, and in some way inspired by the thousands of pilgrims who came here day after day to entrust their lives to Our Lady."

The Pope explained why he had added the day's pilgrimage to his schedule for the trip to Brazil. The main focus of his apostolic voyage is World Youth Day (WYD), he acknowledged. At WYD, he observed, the Church encourages young people who are searching for Jesus. He added: "When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at his mother's door."

Pope Francis told the congregation at Aparecida that he wanted to encourage them in three respects: "hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy." He stressed that God is always close to the faithful and always ready to help. "Christians are joyful; they are never gloomy," the Pope said.

Rainstorms across Brazil undoubtedly diminished the size of the congregation that met the Pope at the shrine, and the atmosphere was considerably calmer than the wild welcome that the papal motorcade encountered when the Pontiff first arrived in Rio de Janeiro the previous day.

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