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Evangelization includes Defending Life!

March 29, 1992

May Our Lady of Copacabana guide us to meet evangelization's challenges


This is a translation of the Holy Father's Angelus reflection for Sunday, 29 March. It is the 11th in the series related to the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelization of America.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. In the course of the spiritual pilgrimage which is taking us on a visit to some of the sacred places of the American continent in order to implore light and grace from the Lord for the jubilee celebrating the fifth centenary of its evangelization, let us go today to Bolivia, to the heights of the Andes.

Let us pause at the Marian shrine of Copacabana, on a peninsula reaching out into the beautiful, enormous Lake Titicaca, where veneration of the Virgen de la Candelaria can be traced back to the beginning of the evangelization of the peoples living on the Andean altiplano.

2. The image of our Lady, Patroness of Bolivia, is the work of an Indian which was then given a place of honour in a little church in Copacabana in 1583 by the Augustinian priests who had brought the Gospel message to that area. The present large, majestic building was begun in 1605 and was recently remodelled in order to satisfy the religious needs of the many pilgrims, especially from Bolivia and Peru, who arrive there with devotion and implore Mary's protection.

We too join these pilgrims today and ask the Mother of God to accompany us on the journey of the new evangelization of America, as she once guided the steps of the first missionaries who arrived there.

3. There are many urgent challenges which our era makes to the new evangelization: the need for increasing the number of evangelizers; renewing Church structures; strengthening catechesis and helping people deepen their knowledge of the word of God; counteracting the expansion and aggressiveness of the sects; responding to the agonizing cry of the poor, the "campesinos", the "indios"; vigorously and decisively defending life from conception in the mother's womb until its natural end.

Furthermore, how could we fail to mention the many abandoned children on the streets of Latin America's large cities? How could we not appeal to everyone to be involved in finding a solution to such an agonizing problem? Likewise, a determined, peaceful effort is also required to ensure peace and respect for human rights in the various areas of society; there is also the need for an attentive missionary activity to stem the phenomenon of increasing secularization and to evangelize the depths of culture, imbuing it with the life-giving leaven of the Christian message.

These, dear brothers and sisters, are some of the problems which currently challenge those who evangelize Latin America and which will be the object of the pastoral attention of the Fourth General Assembly of the Latin American Bishops in Santo Domingo next October.

Let us ask Mary during this holy season of Lent, a time of prayer, reflection and penance, to help the ecclesial communities, especially those of the American continent, in the difficult but exhilarating apostolic task of the new evangelization.

Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion

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