DAILY CATHOLIC     FRIDAY - January 22 to WEDNESDAY - January 27, 1999


      EDITOR'S NOTE: We will be updating this page several times a day during the week. The following news articles are provided by CWN - Catholic World News and Noticias Eclesias CHURCH NEWS. For live up-to-date coverage of the papal trip to Mexico and the United States, visit EWTN. Continuous Spanish- language coverage is also available at Spanish Coverage.

January 26, 1999



          MEXICO CITY (CWNews.com) -- In the last major public appearance of his pastoral visit to Mexico, Pope John Paul II told a congregation of 115,000 people in Azteca soccer stadium that they have "an important role to play in the building of the new world which the Second Vatican Council sought to promote.

          "America, land of Christ and Mary!" the Holy Father exclaimed as he began his address to representatives of all ages, races, and social backgrounds. The huge congregation spent a total of five hours in Azteca stadium-- three of them in the Pope's presence-- for prayers, song, and a variety of performances. The performers included dancers representing different American Indian tribes, bringing together their cultural traditions in an effort to highlight the unity of the American continents-- one of the key themes of the Synod for the Americas and the Pope's own apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in America.

          In a special word to the younger members of the assembly, the Pope cautioned that they should promote authentic moral principles , "so that the global society which is now being built does not inherit the errors of the century which is coming to a close." Instead, the Pope continued, the global society of the future should be "oriented toward God."

          "You are the stewards of a rich human and religious tradition," the Pope told the Mexican crowd. To illustrate the religious patrimony of the Americas, he even alluded to the Mexican King Quetzalcoatl, who is revered as a symbol of wisdom among Indian tribes. Quetzalcoatl, the Holy Father said, grasped the fundamental truth that man is at the center of creation. That insight, he added, helped to prepare his society to receive the Gospel.

          Pope John Paul left Mexico on Tuesday morning, flying to St. Louis for a meeting with US President Bill Clinton and a day of events devoted primarily to American Catholics. He will return to Rome on Wednesday.


          MEXICO CITY, 26 (NE) Archbishop Justin Rigali, of St. Louis, who has been present at Mexico during the visit of the Holy Father, expressed once again his great joy to be able to receive the Pope John Paul II in Saint Louis. The Holy Father will arrive today at one o´clock in the afternoon, and will be welcomed by a delegation in which President Clinton will be present, as well as by the thousands who want to see and listen the Vicar of Christ. "St. Louis," affirmed Archbishop Rigali explaining the reason for the Pope's visit, "has a very important place in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States."


          MEXICO CITY, 26 (NE) A great feast of faith was lived at the Aztec Stadium yesterday. The Vicar of Christ presided over the event, while the whole continent bore testimony of its intense and ingrained love for the Lord Jesus, for our Mother Mary of Guadalupe, for the Church and for the Successor of Peter. A Continent of Hope and of Life that with its traditional festive and friendly style aimed to make explicit its adhesion and affection to the Successor of Peter.

          From the very beginning the continental aspect of this encounter could be appreciated, when in a colorful display of flags, each country came forth greeting the Holy Father. The cheers, songs, applause and waves, of the more than 120,000 people present, followed one after another. Afterwards Cardinal Rivera gave a welcoming message, in which he made a brief diagnosis of the world's current situation, pointing out finally that "the only possible solution is Jesus Christ. He and only He, can tear down the walls that separate men and nations in this continent." After this he thanked the Holy Father for his presence in America because it constitutes a true incentive to impel the New Evangelization.

          At a certain moment of the encounter, the lights of the stadium dimmed and entire stages were lifted out of the four corners of the field, where some dancers dressed as Aztecs represented scenes of the Aztec daily life. Suddenly an intense music revealed the arrival of the Spanish evangelizers, who immediately began to catechize the natives. The cultural Ğmestizajeğ was also represented. When scenes showed a certain rejection to the faith and some false conversions, the stadium remained in darkness and a giant and very beautiful projection of the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared in a sector of the roof. Immediately a rain of rose petals and the appearance, in the stage, of the Blessed Juan Diego, preceded the representation of the massive conversion of hundreds of natives to the Catholic faith.

          After this evangelizing play, the Holy Father pronounced the first part of his message, in which addressing the generations of the adult and elderly, affirmed that: "It is your task to hand on this patrimony of values to future generations to nourish their vitality and hope, helping them share their Christian faith, which has shaped their past and should characterize their future... Only faith in Christ gives rise to a culture contrary to egoism and death." He also highlighted that the construction of this new culture must be done continuing the orientations considered in the II Vatican Council, that "as an evangelical answer to recent world development and as the beginning of a new Christian springtime, has been providential for the 20th century."

          "Thus, I am happy," he continued, "to take note of the benefits of the implementation of Conciliar teachings, such as the deep spirit of communion and fraternity among bishops of America which, closely united to the Pope, was brought to light in the celebration of the Synod which I solemnly closed yesterday; in the growing commitment of the laity in building up the Church; the development of movements that promote the holiness and apostolate of their members; the increase of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life which can be seen in different places, such as Mexico."

          Finally the Holy Father encouraged the whole continent with joyful energy, saying: "America, land of Christ and Mary! You have an important role to play in the construction of the new world that the Second Vatican Council wished to promote. You should be committed to making the truth prevail over so many forms of lies; to make good overcome evil, justice overcome injustice, honesty overcome corruption. Accept fully the Conciliar vision of man, as created by God and redeemed by Jesus Christ."

          The second part of the Pope's message renewed the invitation to a New Evangelization. The 21st Century, a century of new evangelization and a great challenge for Christian youth was the title to his part of the Holy Father's message to the American Continent. "Every Christian is called to announce and to bear witness to Christ, and to make him present in all places, in the different cultures and periods of history," said the Pope. "To all who are united with the Pope, here and through the mass media, I say: Feel responsible for spreading this light which you have received!. The New Evangelization," the Holy Father continued, "will be a seed of hope for the new millennium if each and every one of you, today's Catholics, make the effort to transmit to future generations the precious heritage of the human and Christian values which give life meaning."

          Addressing the youth present at the stadium, the Pope reminded the call to sanctity, pointing out that "the ideal that Christ proposes and teaches with his life is certainly very high, but it is the only one that can give full meaning to life. Christians of the twenty-first century also have an ever replenishable fount in the ecclesial communities of the first centuries. Those who having lived with Christ, or heard direct testimony of the apostles, felt their lives transformed and inundated with a new light. But they were to live their faith in an indifferent and even hostile world. To make the truth of the Gospel penetrate and displace many convictions and customs which denigrate human dignity, was to suppose great sacrifices, firm constancy and great creativity. Only with unbreakable faith in Christ, fed constantly by prayer, the hearing of the Word and assiduous participation in the Eucharist, the first Christian generations were able to overcome those difficulties and ably fecundated human history with the newness of the Gospel, pouring out, many times, their own life-blood."

          Pope John Paul II highlighted that "in the new era which commences, era of computers and the powerful means of communication, opening into a ever more fluid globalization of economical and social relations; you, dear youth, and your peers have before you the challenge to open your mind and heart to mankind and to the novelty of Christ and the graciousness of God."

          "You, Mexican and American youth, have to procure that the world that one day will be confided to you, be oriented towards God," expressed the Holy Father. Recalling the Lord´s word´s, the Holy Father affirmed before finishing his message: "I leave with you the memory and foretaste the salutary words of Christ Himself, which shed light on the future and feed our hope: "'Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the world.'"

          A very significant event was the commitment that all those present made before the Holy Father, in which they promised to make efforts to live their Christian lives in coherence, be active evangelizers, defenders of life, family, working for the construction of a genuinely human culture, among others. Upon concluding the meeting the Holy Father spoke once more: "You, as children of the Church, must work to ensure that the coming global society will not be spiritually indigent nor inherit the errors of the century which ends." The fireworks and cheerful songs accompanied the Successor of Peter as he left the stadium, after two hours of a great feast of faith.


          MEXICO CITY, 26 (NE) Gathered around Pope John Paul II, yesterday the American continent lived an unforgettable day, marked by the encounter of the Holy Father with the representatives of all the generations of this century. United to those who participated in Mexico, delegations of diverse countries took part in the encounter through satellite communication.

          The testimony of adhesion to the Holy Father and the desire to put into practice his urgent call to a New Evangelization of the American continent that the delegates of the different countries expressed was the same desire manifested by the thousands of participants at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The Holy Father showed himself gladly surprised and with great vitality, and assented to the messages he received from the different countries. These messages linked the whole continent together in a day of joy in union with the Vicar of Christ.

          The messages of the representatives of the diverse delegations were of great significance. Brazil was the first country to send its message. A great number of faithful gathered at the city of Sao Paulo, joining their Archbishop, Claudio Hummes. "We love you and we want to follow you as universal teacher of the faith," he declared. He also confirmed the Brazilian people's commitment to become "instruments for the civilization of love in which a culture of life may be constructed." Venezuela's meditation was on family. "We know that if we want to change this world we may only do so from the foundation of family," declared a young lady from Caracas.

          After the Pope's first message it was the turn of Peru's delegation. Many people gathered in Lima. A young man expressed to the Pope the desire of the Peruvian people to "open the door of our heart completely to Christ, so that, from a heart that has met with Jesus Christ we may know how to project ourselves to the fraternal encounter with others." The Pope assented with a gesture. "Now that your Holiness returns to America, to encourage us to cross the Threshold of the Third Millenium without fear, but with hope, we want to commit to give ourselves at the best of our capacities and our possibilities, in our answer to the calling God makes us to build a more fraternal, more just and reconciled continent," the young man concluded.

          United States sent a meditation on solidarity, putting the family as model of solidarity for the continent. The last country to send its message to the Holy Father was Argentina. In Buenos Aires, Argentinean Catholics manifested that "union gives hope. We choose hope, we choose a New Evangelization," a young layman declared. He also highlighted that "the appearance of apostolic movements and nuclei of Christian life is a sign of hope. Many are the challenges at the threshold of the third millennium, but as Christians we choose hope, that opens up new horizons, even facing adversity," he said.

For more articles previous to this,
  • see PAPAL VISIT TO THE AMERICAS - January 25 and
  • see PAPAL VISIT TO THE AMERICAS - January 24 and
  • see PAPAL VISIT TO THE AMERICAS - January 23
  • Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

    January 22-27, 1999      


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