Pope Hopes to Open CELAM Conference in '07

At the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI announced that he will open the 5th General Conference of the Latin American bishops’ council, in 2007, at the Marian shrine of Aparecida in Brazil.

The Pope announced the news Friday during an audience with several prelates representing the bishops’ council, which is known by its Spanish acronym CELAM, the group said in a communiqué. Among the prelates was the president of CELAM, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Santiago, Chile.

The bishops presented the first printed copy of the participation document, a text that will help the Catholic communities prepare for the ecclesial meeting.

After receiving the text, and listening to the bishop’s reasons for convoking the meeting, Benedict XVI said «that he thought it was a good idea» to hold the conference at the «Marian shrine of Aparecida in Brazil, and to open the assembly there during the month of May of the year 2007,» said the communiqué.

Benedict XVI approved the following theme for the conference last July: «Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ so That Our Peoples Will Have Life in Him.» He also proposed the subtitle, taken from John 14:6: «I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.»

Our Lady of Aparecida, patroness of Brazil, is the country’s most popular shrine.

This will be the second time that the general conference is held in Brazil. The four previous assemblies were held in Brazil (1955), Colombia (1968), Mexico (1979) and Dominican Republic (1992).

The conference would gather bishops who now represent 43% of the world’s Catholics.

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