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Popular forms of piety are healthy if they spring from real faith, Pope says

CWN - April 08, 2011

The “profound popular religiosity” of the people is “a valuable asset of the Catholic Church in Latin America, and must be protected, promoted, and also, where necessary, purified.” That was the message of Pope Benedict XVI, speaking on April 8 to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The Pontifical Commission had gathered in Rome this week to discuss the connection between popular piety and evangelization. Pope Benedict confirmed the strong connection, while adding the cautionary note that “popular piety not be reduced to a simple cultural expression.”

When popular forms of piety arise from genuine faith, the Pope said, they “help bring about a fruitful encounter with God, fostering an intense veneration of the Sacrament, a profound devotion to the Virgin Mary, affection for Peter's Successor and a sense of belonging to the Church.” However, he added, it is unwise to ignore “certain deviant forms of popular religiosity,” which “create confusion and can give rise to a superficial religious practice.”

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