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Monday, March 30, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Having returned from his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of the Holy Face of Jesus, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope, who is due to speak at length about his recent visit to Africa in his next general audience, highlighted how during his visit to the continent he had been particularly impressed by people's joy "at being part of the one family of God" and by "the strong sense of the sacred which was palpable during liturgical celebrations. ... The visit", he went on, "gave me a better view and understanding of the situation of the Church in Africa, her various experiences and the challenges she has to face at the current time".

  Going on then to quote from today's Gospel where, in the imminence of His Passion, Christ says: "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit", the Pope highlighted Jesus' readiness to do the will of God, which is "to give eternal life to us who have lost it. For this to happen, though, Jesus has to die, like a grain sown by God the Father in the world. Only in this way, in fact, can a new humanity take seed and grow, free from the sway of sin and capable of living fraternally, like sons and daughters of the one Father Who is in heaven.

  "In the great feast of faith we experienced together in Africa", Benedict XVI added, "we felt this new humanity to be alive, though with its human limitations. There, where missionaries, like Jesus, gave and continue to give their lives for the Gospel, we gather abundant fruits. To them - religious and lay people - goes my gratitude for the good that they do. It was for me a beautiful sight to see the fruit of their love for Christ and to appreciate the profound recognition Christians have for them. Let us give thanks to God for them and pray to Mary Most Holy that Christ's message of hope and of love may be spread throughout the world".

  After the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father gave his "affectionate greetings to the large numbers Africans who live in Rome", many of whom were in St. Peter's Square accompanied by Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. "You have come", said the Pope, "to express your joy and recognition for my apostolic trip to Africa. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I pray for you, for your families and for your home countries".
ANG/AFRICA/...                            VIS 20090330 (470)

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