Ecuador Needs God, Pope Affirms

Sends Message for Nation’s 200th Anniversary

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QUITO, Ecuador, AUG. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is celebrating Ecuador’s 200th anniversary, recalling that without God, a nation cannot build its future.

The Pope affirmed this in a message sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the archbishop of Quito, Raúl Vela Chiriboga.

The message said that on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the nation’s independence, the Holy Father wants to offer Ecuadoreans his “cordial greetings and spiritual closeness, assuring a particular remembrance in his prayers, in which he asks the Lord to abundantly pour out the gifts of his grace on the beloved children of this noble land so that, faithful to their great human and Christian values, they might contribute to build a society that is ever more fraternal, just and solidary.”

At the same time, he expressed his hope that citizens of the nation will be “sustained by faith in divine help, since man is not capable of managing his own future without counting on those elements that have God as their beginning and fulfillment.”

The Pontiff’s message was read at the end of a Mass celebrated to mark the Aug. 10, 1809, anniversary.

Looking forward

Meanwhile, the bishops published a statement urging Ecuador to remember its Christian roots and build up the country in unity and peace.

“It has been rightly said that the Church has been present in our history shaping nationality,” they affirmed. “The influence of the Christian faith in these two centuries of independence has been a factor that strengthens our identity, humanizes our social life and encourages the profound nobility of the national culture.”

The Church in Ecuador doesn’t “seek privileges or honors,” the prelates continued, adding that the Church doesn’t participate in political power.

But as pastors, the bishops promised to be “tireless” in strengthening the “indispensable moral and ethical foundation of all politics. The guiding thread of our society and the activities of authorities must always be service to the dignified life of persons and the associations they form.”

They also urged Ecuadoreans to work more intensely to defend human rights in the upcoming century of independence: “We will always be ready to support the fight to defend life from the moment of conception, [to defend] health and work, access to a good education and dignified living conditions.”

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