APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) — On a five-day visit to Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI identified a host of social and religious challenges and said the church should respond by focusing more clearly on the person of Jesus Christ.
“This is the faith that has made America the ‘continent of hope’…not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic system: faith in the God who is love — who took flesh, died and rose in Jesus Christ,” the pope said on the final day of his May 9-13 visit to Brazil.
The papal trip began May 9 with an inflight press conference that prompted controversy when the pope, in response to a question, appeared to support the idea of excommunication for pro-abortion politicians.
The Vatican later released a toned-down version of the papal comments.
On May 10, the pope joined some 40,000 young people in a Sao Paulo soccer stadium for song, dance, prayer and a lengthy papal speech that laid out arguments for Christian virtue.
At a Mass May 11 on a Sao Paulo airfield, the pope canonized St. Antonio Galvao, an 18th-century Franciscan known for his charitable work among the poor and sick.
On May 12 the pope rode deep into the Brazilian countryside to visit Fazenda da Esperanca, or Farm of Hope, a church-run drug rehabilitation center.
Before leaving Brazil, the pope delivered a lengthy opening address to the bishops’ general conference, a speech that was greatly anticipated by the more than 260 participants.
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