Prelate Notes Pope's Appreciation for Latin America
Says Being Cardinal Entails New Mission of Service
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APARECIDA, Brazil, OCT. 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida considers his appointment by Benedict XVI as a cardinal a sign of appreciation for Latin America.
The 73-year-old prelate is one of 24 who will become part of the College of Cardinals in the consistory over which the Pope will preside on Nov. 20.
The archbishop of Aparecida was received by hundreds of faithful on Tuesday, on his return from Rome, where he took part in the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.
"God always loves to give surprises in our life," he said during the welcome ceremony in the old basilica of Aparecida, which was full of bishops, priests, families and young people.
Visibly happy, the archbishop admitted that when he went to Rome at the beginning of October, "it never crossed my mind, on this occasion of the synod, of being invited by the Pope to the cardinalship."
He continued: "It was an enormous surprise for me. I received the news on the eve of the public announcement.
"It surprised me but it also filled me with emotions of gratitude for the Holy Father. It awakens the conscience that it is another call of God to serve his Church."
Cardinal-designate Assis said that he experienced a great "feeling of humility."
"When God calls us for a mission, he always gives us the help, the grace that we need to carry it out," he affirmed.
In the course of the welcoming ceremony, Bishop Moacir Silva of Sao Jose dos Campos, São Paulo, said on behalf of the Brazilian episcopate that the prelate's appointment as cardinal is a recognition of the "profound zeal, dedication and love with which he serves the Church of Jesus Christ."
After the ceremony, speaking with the press, the future cardinal said that this appointment reveals the Pope's "special attention and consideration" for the Church in South America.
As president of the Latin American episcopal council (CELAM), he added: "I represent the Latin American episcopate. It's a way of showing consideration and appreciation for the Church in Latin America."
Cardinal-designate Assis also sees in the appointment "very special attention for Brazil."
He noted: "The Holy Father was here in 2007. He presided over and opened the 5th General Conference of the Latin American episcopate. He was received in the best possible way, with much affection, with much human warmth, with much respect."
"I think that with this appointment the Holy Father also wished to pay homage to Brazil," the prelate said, "and this through Aparecida, which is the headquarters of the national shrine of the patroness of Brazil."
He affirmed, "The Pope is certainly paying homage also to all Brazilians, because in the great majority, not to say the totality, the people are devoted to Our Lady of Aparecida."