Cardinal Sodano Encourages Ecuadoreans in Great National Mission

Laity’s Role in Church Has Blossomed, He Says

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QUITO, Ecuador, DEC. 11, 2002 ( The laity’s role in the life of the Church has grown from a small seed «to reach the corpulence of a luxuriant tree,» says the Vatican secretary of state.

During a press meeting in the Metropolitan Curia on Monday, in the framework of an official visit to Ecuador, Cardinal Angelo Sodano emphasized that the extent of the involvement of the laity in recent times, is such «that the Pontifical Council for the Laity is a body of great activity and vitality. The laity are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.»

Noting that a key reason for his trip to Ecuador was to encourage Catholics in the work of evangelizing their brothers, the cardinal expressed his joy over the Great National Mission that Ecuadorean bishops launched «as a way of taking the Gospel to all corners of the country,» AndinaNoticias reported.

«I pray to Providence for the success of this enterprise. I hope it will serve as a stimulus and example for other particular Churches,» the cardinal added.

On Sunday, during a large outdoor Mass in St. Francis Square, Cardinal Sodano was accompanied by the whole of the Ecuadorean episcopate, as well as hundreds of men and women religious.

«A democracy without values is weak, very weak! In order that it be just, it must be cemented on a firm rock!» the cardinal said in his homily. Ecuador is living through a period of changes. A new president will take office Jan. 15, elected after a second round of voting.

The Mass was attended by President Gustavo Noboa Bejarano, his wife, members of his government, Mayor Paco Moncayo of Quito, military authorities, and President-elect Lucio Gutiérrez Borbúa and his wife.

The Vatican secretary of state also transmitted «a word of consolation from the Holy Father for the numerous victims of the disaster that occurred last Nov. 20 in the city of Riobamba.»

This city, 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Quito, suffered the effects of the explosion of a powder magazine in a military base. Seven people died, 300 were wounded, and thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed.

Early Sunday morning, the cardinal had a meeting with the Ecuadorean bishops’ conference. He returned to Rome on Tuesday from the city of Guayaquil.

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