Pontiff to Mark Feast of Guadalupe With Special Mass

Gesture of Solidarity for Peoples of Latin America

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will celebrate a special Mass for the peoples of Latin America this December on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Vatican reported Thursday that the Mass, to be held Dec. 12 in St. Peter's Basilica, is a "a gesture of the concern, affection and solidarity felt by the Holy Father toward the peoples and nations of the 'Continent of Hope,' as it has been called by Roman Pontiffs from Paul VI to Benedict XVI."

The bicentennial of independence has been celebrated across Latin America this year.

The Mass "is a clear expression of the pastoral solicitude with which Benedict XVI embraces those peoples, among whom the Gospel of Jesus Christ was sown and brought forth precious fruit," the Vatican added.

The statement noted that Latin Americans represent 40% of the baptized of the Catholic Church, and are "united in filial devotion to Most Holy Mary, while their local Churches remain in faithful communion with the See of Peter."

"The initiative is indicative of the original contribution the Catholic Church wishes to make to the commemoration of this bicentenary, in the light of historical truth, so as to throw light on the current situation in Latin America and nourish hope in a future of peace and justice," the communiqué continued.

The Mass will be attended by the Roman Curia, the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See and to the Italian government, Latin American priests religious and citizens who study or reside in Rome, and public figures from the Latin American continent.