EVANGELIZATION OF THE AMERICAS - 500 YEARS
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
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
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