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Saturday, March 21, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today, the Holy Father travelled to Luanda's "Palacio do Povo" where he was received by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Following a private meeting with the head of State, the Pope pronounced an address before the country's civil and political authorities, and the diplomatic corps accredited to Angola.

  "You are the protagonists and witnesses of an Angola which is on the road to recovery", the Pope told them. "In the wake of the twenty-seven-year civil war that ravaged this country, peace has begun to take root, bringing with it the fruits of stability and freedom. The government's tangible efforts to establish an infrastructure and to rebuild the institutions fundamental to development and the well-being of society have begun to foster hope among the nation's citizens. Multilateral agencies too have made their contribution, determined to overcome particular interests in order to work for the common good. There is also the example of those honest teachers, medical workers, and civil servants who, on meagre wages, serve their communities with integrity and compassion, and there are countless others who selflessly undertake voluntary work at the service of the most needy. May God bless them abundantly! May their charity multiply!

  "Angola knows that the time has come for Africa to be the Continent of Hope", he added. "All upright human conduct is hope in action. Our actions are never indifferent before God. Nor are they indifferent for the unfolding of history. Friends, armed with integrity, magnanimity and compassion, you can transform this continent, freeing your people from the scourges of greed, violence and unrest and leading them along the path marked with the principles indispensable to every modern civic democracy: respect and promotion of human rights, transparent governance, an independent judiciary, a free press, a civil service of integrity, a properly functioning network of schools and hospitals, and - most pressing - a determination born from the conversion of hearts to excise corruption once and for all.

  "In my Message for the World Day of Peace this year", Pope Benedict went on, "I drew particular attention to the need for an ethical approach to development. In fact, the peoples of this continent are rightly calling out, not simply for more programmes and protocols, but for a deep-seated, lasting conversion of hearts to sincere solidarity. Their plea to those serving in politics, public service, international agencies, and multinational companies is simply this: stand alongside us in a profoundly human way; accompany us, and our families and our communities.

  "Social and economic development in Africa bring into partnership national leadership together with regional initiatives and international resolve. Such partnerships require that African nations be seen not simply as the receivers of others' plans and solutions. African men and women themselves, working together for the good of their communities, should be the primary agents of their own development. In this regard, there are a growing number of effective initiatives which merit support. Among them are: the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Pact on Security, Stability, and Development in the Great Lakes Region, together with the 'Kimberley Process', the 'Publish What You Pay Coalition' and the 'Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative'. Their common goal is to promote transparency, honest business practice and good governance.

  "In regard to the international community as a whole, of pressing importance are co-ordinated efforts to address the issue of climate change, the full and fair implementation of the development commitments of the Doha round and likewise the implementation of the oft-repeated promise by developed countries to commit 0.7 percent of their Gross National Product for official development assistance. This undertaking is all the more necessary in view of the world's current financial turmoil, and must not become one of its casualties".

  The Holy Father then spoke of his delight "at being among families" during his apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola. "Indeed", he observed, "I think that those who come from other continents can learn afresh from Africa that 'the family is the foundation on which the social edifice is built'.

  "Yet", he added, "the strains upon families, as we all know, are many indeed: anxiety and ignominy caused by poverty, unemployment, disease and displacement. ... Particularly disturbing is the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure, not to mention the unspeakable practice of sexual violence and exploitation which causes such humiliation and trauma. I must also mention a further area of grave concern: the policies of those who, claiming to improve the 'social edifice', threaten its very foundations. How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of 'maternal' healthcare! How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health.

  "You will always find the Church, in accordance with the will of her divine Founder, standing alongside the poorest of this continent. I wish to assure each of you that" through her many initiatives she "will continue to do all she can to support families - including those suffering the harrowing effects of HIV/AIDS - and to uphold the equal dignity of women and men, realised in harmonious complementarity. The Christian spiritual journey is one of daily conversion. To this the Church invites all leaders so that the path opened for all humanity will be one of truth, integrity, respect and compassion".

  Having completed his address, the Pope travelled to the apostolic nunciature, where he met with bishops of Angola and Sao Tome.


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today at the apostolic nunciature in Luanda, the Pope met with bishops of Angola and Sao Tome.

  "God will reward you", he told the prelates, "for all the apostolic work which you have accomplished in difficult conditions, both during the war and at the present time, in spite of so many limitations, thus helping to give the Church in Angola and in Sao Tome and Principe that dynamism which everyone acknowledges".

  Referring then to the challenges they have to face, he recalled the fact that, "as a corrective to a widespread relativism which acknowledges nothing as definitive and, even more, tends to make its ultimate measure the individual and his personal caprice, we hold out another measure: the Son of God, Who is also true man. Christ is the measure of true humanism. The Christian marked by an adult and mature faith is not one who is borne along by the waves of fashion and the latest novelties, but one who lives deeply rooted in the friendship of Christ. This friendship opens us up to all that is good, and it provides us with the criterion for discerning between error and truth".

  "Culture and models of behaviour are nowadays more and more conditioned and shaped by the images set forth by the communications media. For this reason, I wish to acknowledge your praiseworthy efforts to develop, in this area too, a communications strategy which will enable you to provide everyone with a Christian interpretation of human events, problems and realities".

  The Holy Father dwelt upon the "difficulties and threats" facing families, which "are particularly in need of evangelisation and practical support, since, in addition to the fragility and lack of inner stability of so many conjugal unions, there is the widespread tendency in society and culture to call into question the unique nature and specific mission of the family based on marriage.

  "In your pastoral concern which extends to every human being", he added, "continue to raise your voice in defence of the sacredness of human life and the value of the institution of marriage, as well as in promotion of the family's proper role in the Church and in society, at the same time demanding economic and legislative measures to support the family in bearing and raising children".

  The Pope spoke of his joy "that your nations have so many vibrant communities of faith, a committed laity devoted to many works of the apostolate, and a significant number of vocations to the ordained ministry and the consecrated life, especially the contemplative life. They represent a genuine sign of hope for the future", he said.

  Noting that the clergy is becoming "increasingly indigenous", he praised "the work which has been patiently and heroically carried out by the missionaries in proclaiming Christ and His Gospel and in giving birth to the Christian communities for which you today are responsible".

  Pope Benedict urged the prelates "to be deeply concerned for your priests, attentive to their continuing formation on both the theological and spiritual levels, and alert to the conditions in which they live and exercise their specific mission, so that they can be authentic witnesses of the Word they proclaim and the Sacraments they celebrate.

  "In the gift of themselves to Christ and to the people whom they shepherd, may they remain faithful to the demands of their state of life, and live out their priestly ministry as a true path to holiness, striving to become saints and in this way to raise up new saints all around them".

  At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI dined with the bishops of Angola and Sao Tome, and his entourage.
PV-ANGOLA/MEETING BISHOPS/LUANDA            VIS 20090321 (630)


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the church of Sao Paulo in Luanda, Angola. The church, built by the Capuchin Fathers in 1935, has been the property of the Salesians since 1982. The ceremony was attended by bishops, priests, religious, members of ecclesial movements and catechists of Angola and Sao Tome.

  "St. Paul, the patron saint of the city of Luanda and of this splendid church, ... speaks to us from personal experience about this God Who is rich in mercy", said the Holy Father in his homily. "I feel great joy to be here today with you, my fellow-workers in the Lord's vineyard, where you labour daily to prepare the wine of divine mercy and to pour it out as balm on the wounds of your people who have suffered so many tribulations".

  The decisive event in the life of the Apostle of the Gentiles, noted Benedict XVI, "was his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. ... The Apostle saw the Risen Jesus; and in Him he beheld the full stature of humanity. As a result Paul experienced an inversion of perspective; he now saw everything in the light of this perfect stature of humanity in Christ".

  "'Let us make haste to know the Lord', the Risen One!" he exclaimed. "As you know, Jesus, perfect man, is also our true God. In Him, God became visible to our eyes, to give us a share in His divine life. With Him a new dimension of being, of life, has come about, a dimension which integrates matter and through which a new world arises".

  This new dimension "comes to each of us through faith and Baptism. This Sacrament is truly death and resurrection, transformation and new life. ... I live, but no longer I. In a certain way, my identity has been taken away and made part of an even greater identity; I still have my personal identity, but now it is changed and open to others as a result of my becoming part of Another: in Christ I find myself living on a new plane".

  "Through this process of our 'Christification' by the working and grace of God's Spirit, the gestation of the Body of Christ in history is gradually being accomplished in us. At this moment I would like to go back in thought five centuries, to the years following 1506, when, in these lands, then visited by the Portuguese, the first sub-Saharan Christian kingdom was established, thanks to the faith and determination of the king, Dom Alphonsus I Mbemba-a-Nzinga, who reigned from 1506 until his death in 1543. The kingdom remained officially Catholic from the sixteenth century until the eighteenth, with its own ambassador in Rome. You see how two quite different ethnic groups the Bantu and the Portuguese were able to find in the Christian religion common ground for understanding, and committed themselves to ensuring that this understanding would be long-lasting, and that differences - which undoubtedly existed, and great ones at that - would not divide the two kingdoms! For Baptism enables all believers to be one in Christ.

  "Today it is up to you", he added, "to offer the Risen Christ to your fellow citizens. So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers. Who can go to them to proclaim that Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers? Someone may object: 'Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves'.

  "But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real - indeed, the most real thing of all - is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life".

  "Let us enable human poverty to encounter divine mercy", the Pope concluded. "The Lord makes us His friends, He entrusts Himself to us, He gives us His Body in the Eucharist, He entrusts His Church to us. ... Let us embrace His will, like St. Paul: 'Preaching the Gospel ... is a necessity laid upon me; woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!'"

  At the end of Mass, the Holy Father travelled back to the apostolic nunciature, where he had lunch.
PV-ANGOLA/MASS CLERGY/LUANDA                VIS 20090321 (810)


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Erected the new diocese of Namibe (area 57,097, population 1,195,779, Catholics 270,294, priests 12, religious 27) Angola, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Lubango, making it a suffragan of the same metropolitan church. He appointed Fr. Mateus Feliciano Tomas, chancellor of the archdiocese of Huambo and pastor of the cathedral, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Chinguar, Angola in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983.

 - Appointed Fr. Giovanni Migliorati M.C.C.I., secretary general of the apostolic vicariate of Awasa, Ethiopia, and rector of the major seminary there, as apostolic vicar of the same vicariate (area 75,000, population 6,067,000, Catholics 173,000, priests 47, religious 69). The bishop-elect was born in Pavone Mella, Italy in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1969. He succeeds Bishop Lorenzo Ceresoli M.C.C.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same apostolic vicariate the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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