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Pope to visit Brazil

 Pope Benedict is going to attend the fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean in Aparecida, Brazil, from May 13 to 31, the Vatican announced on Friday. Fr David Gutierrez, director of the Vatican press office, said that the conference - which will have as its theme "Disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life ('I am the way and the truth and the life')" - will be inaugurated by the Holy Father on 13 May. The Pope will preside at a Mass, concelebrated with representatives of all Latin American bishops, and will pronounce an address during the opening session. The presidents of the 22 episcopal conferences of CELAM will attend the Aparecida meeting, together with groups representing the prelates in 172 episcopal conferences, and bishops from Canada, USA, Spain and Portugal. Also present will be 24 priests, 23 male and female religious, and 17 lay people, as well as six ecumenical representatives. Fr Gutierrez said it had been originally planned to hold the meeting in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, but the idea was abandoned because the city lies at an altitude of nearly 5,000 metres and there were fears this might affect the health of some delegates. Benedict XVI then asked for the meeting to be celebrated at a Marian shrine, and Aparecida was chosen. The site can hold 35,000 faithful and is visited annually by eight million pilgrims. Source: VIS