By ZENIT Staff

On Sunday, March 1, the first Sunday of Lent, the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte and President of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference (CNBB), Mgr. Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, presided over the opening Mass of the 2020 Fraternity Campaign, in the Shrine of Aparecida, which houses the image of the Patroness of Brazil. The representatives of the Executive Campaign Coordination and the members of the Presidency of the Episcopal Conference concelebrated with the Archbishop.

According to the information sent to Fides News Agency by the CNBB, during the celebration the message sent by Pope Francis for this year’s Fraternity Campaign will be read, in which the Pontiff draws attention to the need to strengthen the value of life and recalls that conversion must not be separated from service to brothers and sisters, “especially those most in need”.

A relic of Santa Dulce dos Pobres will be enthroned on the altar by some children. The religious of Bahia (1914-1992), of the missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, canonized on 13 October 2019 and remembered for her works of charity and assistance to the poor and needy, was in fact the source of inspiration for this year’s campaign, which has the theme “Fraternity and life: gift and commitment” and the motto “See, feel compassion and take care of him” (Lk 10, 33-34). “What we will experience in this period of Lent, Sister Dulce experienced it all her life: she saw, felt compassion and took care of him with love. And she repeated: the important thing is to do charity, not to talk about charity. A humble and simple person who never tried to let people know what she was doing, but was always close to those who needed it most”, said Sister Dulce’s niece, Maria Rita Pontes, at the presentation of the Campaign.

In the text, the Presidency of the CNBB expresses the hope that, during Lent, every person, pastoral group, movement, association, particular Church, in short, all Brazil, motivated by the campaign of Fraternity, sees care strengthened, zeal, concern for one another, and therefore fraternity. Among the numerous practical actions proposed, it is suggested: to create opportunities to share the life and experience of faith; enhance the role of the laity; to promote evangelization activities on days, times and places accessible to people; encourage dialogue between generations and with society; training initiatives for a coexistence based on human values; promotion of dialogue groups on the local reality; initiatives focused on integral ecology.

In this set of proposals, initiatives related to initiation into the Christian life are suggested; the rediscovery of the importance of the liturgy; missionary closeness to grieving families; the formation of the ministers of the Word; missionary visit programs. The community is therefore called to become a house of welcome, friendship, fraternal care, with the challenge of arriving on Easter Sunday with the formation of new communities. For society, the appeal is to rediscover hope as an aggregating force of the meaning of life, with the laity taking on a commitment to participate in the social and political field.

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