Pope praises Latin American Bishops Council

The Vatican yesterday released a letter from Pope Benedict XVI praising the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) for "invigorating…the new evangelisation" called for by John Paul II.

Catholic News Agency reports that the organisation celebrates it 50th anniversary this year.

The letter, addressed to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile and president of the council, comes on the occasion of its 30th plenary assembly, being held in Lima, Peru from May 17th to the 20th.

In the letter, the Pope noted CELAM's founding 50 years ago by Pope Pius XII "with the aim of supporting the pastoral work of bishops and, at the same time, of responding to some of the grave problems of the Church in Latin America."

Over the last half century, the Holy Father continued, CELAM has helped "to face up to the challenges of the Latin American subcontinent with harmonized efforts and ecclesial spirit, ... and to invigorate what over the years has become known as the 'new evangelization'."

Pope Benedict noted that the council has given particular support to "the promotion of vocations, in order that they be many and holy," and wrote that, looking to the future, CELAM "must continue to make an important contribution and provide strong support in this field, teaching how to discover the signs of the call and to accompany the response."

The Pope called on members of the council to reflect especially on the pastoral care of the family, which, is being "beset by grave challenges represented by the various ideologies and customs that undermine the very foundations of Christian marriage and family."

"Particular emphasis", he said, "must be laid on family catechesis and on the promotion of a positive and correct view of marriage and conjugal morality, thus contributing to the formation of truly Christian families that stand out for their practice of Gospel values."

Pope commends Latin American Bishop's Council, calls them to strengthen families, vocations (Catholic News Agency 19/5/05)

Pope Benedict says Pope John Paul 'is watching us from on high' (Catholic News Service 18/5/05)
Latin American bishops celebrate 50 years of CELAM (Catholic News Service 18/5/05)
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20 May 2005