Sunday Mass Is Key to Nourishing Faith, Says Cardinal

Urges Promotion of Eucharistic Celebration in Latin America

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2005 ( For many Catholics in Latin America the only contact with the Church is Sunday Mass, says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, told an assembly of the dicastery today that dioceses in that part of the world, within the context of the Year of the Eucharist, should concentrate on promoting the celebration of Sunday Mass.

The theme of the pontifical commission’s assembly was «Sunday Mass, Center of Christian Life in Latin America.»

«If we fail to attend Sunday Mass,» the cardinal said, «we cannot call ourselves Catholics because, little by little we will be lacking Christ. We encounter Christ at Mass, living and present in the mystery of his body and blood, who offers himself for us.»

The cardinal mentioned the example of the 49 martyrs of the year 303 in Abyssinia, in Africa, who proclaimed: «We cannot live without celebrating Sunday.»

«But, what must be done so that people will go to Mass on Sunday?» Cardinal Re asked the bishops and cardinals present. «Christ has left this task to us, pastors of the Church of today. It is the task of all bishops and all priests.»

There are 480 million Catholics in Latin America and the ratio of Catholics per priest is one of the highest of the world.

In Cuba, there are 20,479 baptized persons per priest; in Brazil, 8,761; and in Mexico, 6,451. In countries such as the United States there are 1,235 baptized persons per priest; in Poland, 1,340; and in Italy 1,028.

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