Pontiff Announces Trip to Mexico and Cuba

Celebrates Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI presided over a special Mass to mark today’s feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Mass took place in a crowded St. Peter’s Basilica. As well as the Marian feast, the Mass also commemorated the bicentennial of the independence of a number of nations in Latin America and the Caribbean. In a departure from normal practice, the Mass was celebrated in Spanish with accompanying Creole music.

During his homily the Pope also confirmed that he would visit Mexico and Cuba before next Easter. The exact dates and itinerary of his visit are yet to be released.

In his homily, the Pope greeted the ambassadors of the countries present, along with the many cardinals and the large group of people gathered in the basilica. He also greeted all of those united spiritually to the event in Latin American and the Caribbean.

We are gathered here today, the Pontiff said, to renew our gratitude for the faith we have received, «a faith that announces the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that all the peoples of the Earth have life in Him.»

Commenting on the anniversary of the independence of various countries he said: «The successor of Peter could not let this feast pass without giving testimony to the delight of the Church for the abundant gifts that God in his infinite goodness has poured out during these years to the beloved nations that so profoundly invoke Our Most Holy Lady.»

The Pope also gave thanks for all the wonders God’s grace had worked in the Latin American countries and in the whole world.

Mother and model

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he continued, evokes the words regarding «a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, she was with child» (Revelation 12:1-2).

She announced the presence of our Savior to the indigenous population. «She always leads us to her divine Son, who reveals Himself as the foundation of the dignity of all human beings, as a love stronger than all the powers of evil and of death, being also a source of joy, filial confidence, consolation and hope.»

Mary is not only a mother to the Church, she is also a model, the Pope continued. Because of her «Yes» to the call of God, the Virgin Mary made manifest to mankind God’s divine love. She continues to point us to Christ, who is the definitive answer to the question about the meaning of our lives and to the many questions posed today in the American continent, he said.

«By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and anxieties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home,» the Pope said, quoting the words of Lumen Gentium, 62.

It is important, the Pontiff exhorted, that the Latin American countries safeguard their faith and their cultural identity even as they start to play a greater role on the world stage. The Pope specifically mentioned the need to defend human life from its conception until its natural end. He also urged these countries to promote peace and to protect family life.

Triumph of love

When the Church was preparing to mark the 500th anniversary of the proclamation of Christ in the American continent Blessed John Paul II announced a program of evangelization new in its ardor, in its methods, and in its expressions, Benedict XVI commented.

As part of my responsibility to confirm in the faith, the Pope said that he also wanted to encourage them in their efforts to strengthen the Christian faith in their countries. If this is done then the number of authentic disciples and missionaries of Our Lord will increase.

The Pope urged them to let their faith orient their lives and to continue in their task of building a society based on developing what is good and in the triumph of love and the spreading of justice.

He finished by entrusting these wishes expressed to the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He also invoked the help of the many saints and blessed who over the course of history of the American continent were heroic models of Christian virtue.

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