São Paulo (AsiaNews) – The Church must remain strongly missionary in its orientation, showing people the moral values on which to base their decisions—for this reason it must strengthen the family and young people, said Benedict XVI on his arrival tonight at São Paulo airport on the first leg of his trip to Brazil. They reflect the guidelines he wants to lay out for Brazil and Latin America and, from here, for the entire Church.
Answering reporters' questions on the plane that took him to the most populous Catholic country in the world, the Pope said that the Church was “not into politics and respected the separation between state and religion”, but he did say that the Church does have a role in showing how social problems can be addressed. The Church, he noted, has a “religious mission, and is open to solving the great social problems.”
Benedict XVI arrived just before 4.30 pm local time and was welcomed by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and numerous political and civic authorities, including Mgr Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of São Paulo, Card Javier Errázuriz Ossa, chairman of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and head of the General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, which the Pope has come to open.
“In this geographical area,” the Pontiff said in his first speech in Brazil, “Catholics are in the majority. This means that they must make a particular contribution to the common good of the nation. The word solidarity will acquire its full meaning when the living forces of society, each in its own sphere, commit themselves seriously to building a future of peace and hope for all.”
“The Catholic Church, as I stated in the Encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est, ‘transformed by the Holy Spirit, is called to become a witness before the world of the love of the Father who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son’ (cf no. 19). From here springs her deep commitment to the mission of evangelization at the service of the cause of peace and justice. Hence the decision to undertake an essentially missionary Conference reflects clearly the concern of the Bishops, as it does mine, to seek suitable ways by which in Jesus Christ ,our peoples may have life’, as the theme of the Conference reminds us.”
“The Church,” the Pope added,” seeks only to stress the moral values present in each situation and to form the conscience of the citizens so that they may make informed and free decisions. She will not fail to insist on the need to take action to ensure that the family, the basic cell of society, is strengthened and likewise young people, whose formation is a decisive factor for the future of any nation. Last but not least, she will defend and promote the values present at every level of society, especially among indigenous peoples.”