Pope: Women Have Key Role in Building Up Church in America

Considers Example of 2 Women to Be Canonized

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI spoke Saturday with a group of benefactors from a US-based foundation about the historic role women have played in building up the Church in America.

The Pope received in audience representatives of the Papal Foundation, a group that financially supports the Holy Father in assisting projects or needy areas.

Benedict XVI noted the upcoming canonizations of two saints from North America: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who will be the first Native American saint, and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, who followed St. Damien in caring for lepers in Hawaii.

The full text of his brief, English-language address follows:

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Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the members of the Papal Foundation on the occasion of your annual pilgrimage to Rome. May your visit to the tombs of the apostles and martyrs strengthen your love for the crucified and risen Lord and your commitment to the service of his Church. I am happy to have this occasion to thank you personally for your support of a wide variety of apostolates close to the heart of the Successor of Peter.

In coming months I will have the honor of canonizing two new Saints from North America. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope are striking examples of sanctity and heroic charity, but they also remind us of the historic role played by women in the building up of the Church in America. By their example and intercession, may all of you be confirmed in the pursuit of holiness and in your efforts to contribute to the growth of God’s Kingdom in the hearts of people today. Through the work of the Papal Foundation, you help to further the Church’s mission of evangelization, promote the education and integral development of our brothers and sisters in poorer countries, and advance the missionary endeavors of so many dioceses and religious congregations throughout the world.

In these days I ask your continued prayers for the needs of the universal Church and in particular for the freedom of Christians to proclaim the Gospel and bring its light to the urgent moral issues of our time. With great affection I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.