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Cardinal Damasceno: “John Paul II felt a great love for Latin America”

2014-04-26

John Paul II's first international trip was to Latin America back in 1979. His first visit was to Mexico, then the Dominican Republic. He always felt close to that continent, and proved it throughout his pontificate.

CARD. RAYMUNDO DAMASCENO ASSIS
Archbishop of Aparecida (Brazil)
"He felt a great love for Latin America. He went there during his first international trip. So I think that the relationship he had with Latin America, in countries like Brazil and Mexico was a very affectionate one, full of love, care and friendship. 
I think these feeling were mutual: Latin America felt it towards John Paul II and he towards Latin America.”

John Paul appointed cardinal Damasceno as secretary of the CELAM, the conference of Latin American Bishops. He has lots of memories of the Pope, but mainly talks of him as a person who would always leave an impression. 

CARD. RAYMUNDO DAMASCENO ASSIS
Archbishop of Aparecida (Brazil)
"Those who met him will never forget it, that's for sure. He had a very strong character, quite gifted actually.  He was a great communicator, especially when addressing large crowds. He proved this time and time again in all his apostolic travels abroad.”

John Paul II visited Brazil four times, the country with the largest number of Catholics. The first time he traveled there was in 1980 and the last one, in 1997 to attend the World Meeting of Families.

CARD. RAYMUNDO DAMASCENO ASSIS
Archbishop of Aparecida (Brazil)
"He was a very open person, always eager to discover the world. He always looked after the Church, and wanted to evangelize. He was a very close person who, at the same time, had a personality that amazed anyone who met him.”

John Paul II defined Latin America as the "continent of hope.” He went there 18 times and visited 26 of its countries.


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