Cardinal Ouellet Presides Over Opening Mass of International Congress on "Ecclesia in America"

Three Day Congress Will Focus on Evangelization in North and South America

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A three day International Congress on the Church in America commenced yesterday with Mass celebrated in Saint Peter's Basilica.

The congress coincides with the 15th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops for America. Blessed John Paul II released the post-synodal exhortation, entitled Ecclesia in America, in 1999.

The Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Council for Latin America, Canadian prelate Cardinal Marc Ouellet, was the principal celebrant for the opening Mass of this year's international congress.

In his homily, Cardinal Ouellet recalled Blessed John Paul's call for the Synod of Bishops in America to take place. "On the threshold of the third Christian millennium and at a time when many walls and ideological barriers have fallen, the Church feels absolutely duty-bound to bring into still deeper spiritual union the peoples who compose this great continent and also, prompted by the religious mission which is proper to the Church, to stir among these peoples a spirit of solidarity."

The 1999 Synod, he continued, "marked a milestone in reconciliation and effective collaboration between our dioceses of North America and South America."

"The Word of God who unites us is Christ the Lord, the Desired of the nations. It is He who rises from the East as the rising sun, He whom America met and embraced 500 years ago, thanks to the maternal tenderness of Mary who deigned to manifest herself to Juan Diego with the Indian features of Our ​​Lady of Guadalupe. Touched to the heart by the divine mercy revealed in these features, from that moment on, America marches forward in the hope of the God who comes in Christ, in the midst of the hopes and challenges of the present time."

Cardinal Ouellet continued: "God decided to save his people and to lead them along smoothed paths toward the glory of his Kingdom. This is why Christ pitched his tent in America, especially among the poor, and He has established his home of glory among those who share his love. His great arms extended on the heights of the Cubilete (Leon, Mexico) and the Corcovado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) beckon us to remain faithful to the courage of the missionaries, to the perseverance of the saints and to the blood of martyrs who have made ​​America a sacred land."

Noting the importance of recalling the 1999 synod, the cardinal said: "There has never been a living Church without a permanent conversion of its members to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; there cannot be a living Church without a deep and frequent communion to the Body of Christ, the gushing and crystalline source of its unity; there will not be a radiant and missionary Church in America without a solidarity that is more concrete and creative between the North and the South of the continent."

He concluded: "This congress is placed especially under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, Star of the New Evangelization. As her beloved children, we humbly entrust to her our needs and our projects of the new evangelization, with the certainty that she will lead us safely to the joy of her Son, who was promised to the poor."