Pope Benedict XVI visited two countries in Africa, Cameroon and Angola, on 17-23 March 2009. Africa trip focused on hopes and challenges.
He arrived in Cameroon on 17 March. Tens of thousands welcomed him. They lined the streets of Yaounde. He said that the Church’s message of hope and reconciliation was sorely needed by a continent suffering disproportionately from poverty, conflict and disease. “The Gospel is the answer to the continent’s problems.”
Before he landed in Cameroon Pope Benedict said “the distribution of condoms only increases the problems of AIDS”.
March 18. First full day in Africa. He asked Cameroon’s pastoral workers to live in the spirit of service and “reveal the loving face of God to the poor”.
He asked bishops to lead in the new evangelization efforts. He said “be strong preachers of the Gospel and vigilant shepherds on matters of priestly formation and behavior, liturgical dignity, and Christian marriage.
March 19. Tens of thousands packed the 40,000 – seat Amadou Ahidjo Soccer Stadium in Cameroon on Thursday, 19th March. He drew cheers when he told worshippers that God had not forgotten orphans, poor and abused children, and those “forced to join paramilitary forces”. (CNN).
March 19. Meeting with 22 Muslims from Cameroon. He said “Christians and Muslims need to cooperate in Africa to defend traditional values and reject all forms of violence.
In Cameroon he warned “of erosion of values and Tyranny of materialism”.
In his visit to the sick in Yaounde, Cameroon Pope Benedict encouraged the sick with a touch, a smile and blessings.
March 20. Cameroonian pygmies gave Pope Benedict a live turtle as a send-off gift. This turtle was left in the Nunciature’s garden.
March 20. Angola. Pope met with political leaders and foreign diplomats. He appealed for the protection of African families condemned the promotion of abortion even in cases where the mother’s life is at risk and support families struggling from the effects of poverty, disease and war. He also urged the oil-rich government to improve governance.
March 21. Pope met with 30,000 youth in the stadium of Coquieros, Luanda, Angola. “In today’s Angola, he said during the mass, ‘Catholics should offer the message of Christ to the many who live in the fear of spirits, of evil powers by whom they feel threatened’, He also gave a message of hope to young people, including some wounded and maimed during Angola’s long civil war. (From 1975 to 2002). Pope regretted the stampedes before and during his arrival at the stadium. Casualties, 1st stampede: 2 dead, 8 hospitalized with minor injuries and 10 were treated at the site. Casualties, 2nd: 20 taken away in ambulances.
March 22. Celebration of Mass with bishops of IMBISA (Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa) at Amangola Square (9am) “Resist clouds of evils in the continent; war, ethnic rivalry, tribalism and greed.
Meeting with Catholic movements for the promotion of women. Pleaded for women’s equality, and praised “silent heroines”.
March 23. Farewell ceremony at 4 de Fevereiro International Airport of Luanda, 9am. Appealed for international solidarity, care for one another, share the world’s resources in an equitable way. (From Fr. R. Buenaobra and Catholic News service).
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 525, 26 March 2009)