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The Holy Father´s Week: March 23, 2009

A short report on Benedict XVI´s messages and activities.
by Maribel de Torres | Source: Zenit.org

 During the papal flight en route to Cameroon, Benedict XVI answered journalist’s questions. “You know that the Lord's mandate for the Successor of Peter is "to confirm brothers in the faith" the Holy Father said “I try to do this. But I am sure that I myself will return confirmed by my brothers, infected -- so to speak -- by their joyful faith”. . “I am going with a religious program, of faith, of morality, but this is precisely also an essential contribution to the problem of the economic crisis that we are living at this moment.” he answered to one question. “Structures are the reflection of hearts” he also said, so “…A purification of hearts is necessary”. Asked about the Church’s teachings regarding AIDS, the Pope answered that “the factors that help and that lead to visible progress” can only be found in a double commitment: first, a humanization of sexuality, and second, the willingness -- even with sacrifice and self-denial -- to be with the suffering. To a fourth question he said: “Our faith is hope by definition”… “It seems to me, despite all the problems we well know, that there are great signs of hope.” ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, MARCH 18, 2009

"I come among you as a pastor, I come to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith." The Holy Father said at the airport, upon arriving in Cameroon at the beginning of his apostolic journey to Africa. “The saving message of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loud and clear, so that the light of Christ can shine into the darkness of people’s lives. Here in Africa, as in so many parts of the world, countless men and women long to hear a word of hope and comfort.” The Holy Father recalled the witness of great saints from Africa, and the "waves of missionaries and martyrs" who have "continued to bear witness to Christ" throughout the country
 The Pope called Cameroon a land of hope, life, peace and youth, with a special capacity to help spread the Church's message of reconciliation and justice. YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 17, 2009

Full text of address:

Benedict XVI arrived in Africa. He received a special welcome from Muslim and Protestant leaders as he arrived at the international airport of Yaoundé. Thousands of people lined the streets to watch the Pope pass through on his way to the apostolic nunciature. Cameroon. YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 17, 2009

The Pope met the Pastors of the Catholic Church in Cameroon. He reminded the Bishops the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel to everyone. “There are countless people still waiting to hear the message of hope and love that will enable them to “obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21).” The Pontiff encouraged them to work together to proclaim the Gospel to everyone, keeping a paternal closeness with their priests, forming the laity and caring for the poor. Among the many challenges facing the Bishops, the Pope mentioned the situation of the family. He also noted the need to "give new impetus to the formation of children and young adults, especially in university settings and intellectual circles." YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 18, 2009

The Pope reflected on the figure of St. Joseph upon presiding over a celebration of vespers with local clergy and with representatives of ecclesial movements and of other Christian confessions.St. Joseph, he said, "is not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, and yet he lives his fatherhood fully and completely." "To be a father means above all to be at the service of life and growth," Benedict XVI added. "St. Joseph, in this sense, gave proof of great devotion. For the sake of Christ he experienced persecution, exile and the poverty which this entails.”
"In Joseph, faith is not separated from action.” He explained, “His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a 'just man because his existence is 'ad-justed' to the word of God."
"The life of Saint Joseph, lived in obedience to God’s word, is an eloquent sign for all the disciples of Jesus who seek the unity of the Church," the Pope concluded. "His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of his plan to gather together all mankind into one family, one assembly, one 'ecclesia.'" YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 18, 2009
Full text:

The Papal visit is an antidote against pessimism. The Cameroon President, Paul Biya, thanked the Holy Father for convoking the Second Special Synod for Africa, which will be held in Rome next October and told the Pontiff that Africans see "the constant interest you have in those who suffer because of war, poverty, sickness and oppression." "This affirmed solidarity," he concluded, "is also an encouragement for them not to yield to 'Afro-pessimism' and to continue with their efforts to build a more just society of solidarity." YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 18, 2009

“Death must not prevail over life!” The Holy Father said to more than 40.000 faithful who attended the Mass at Yaoundé's Amadou Ahidjo stadium. “Restoring a sense of the acceptance of life as a gift from God is a first priority. According to both Sacred Scripture and the wisest traditions of your continent, the arrival of a child is always a gift, a blessing from God.” He reminded them, “Today it is high time to place greater emphasis on this: every human being, every tiny human person, however weak, is created "in the image and likeness of God" (Gen 1:27). Every person must live! Death must not prevail over life! Death will never have the last word!”
 "You must be very careful," he warned. "Africa in general, and Cameroon in particular, place themselves at risk if they do not recognize the True Author of Life!
"Brothers and sisters in Cameroon and throughout Africa, you who have received from God so many human virtues, take care of your souls!" "Sons and daughters of Africa, do not be afraid to believe, to hope, and to love," the Pontiff urged. "Do not be afraid to say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that we can be saved by him alone."  YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 19, 2009

The Holy Father met with Muslim leaders of Cameroon. “Cameroon is home to thousands of Christians and Muslims, who often live, work and worship in the same neighbourhood. Both believe in one, merciful God who on the last day will judge mankind.” He said, “Together they bear witness to the fundamental values of family, social responsibility, obedience to God’s law and loving concern for the sick and suffering.”  Benedict XVI affirmed that to unveil the vast potential of human reason, which is itself God’s gift and which is elevated by revelation and faith, is a particularly urgent task of religion today. “What is "reasonable" extends far beyond what mathematics can calculate, logic can deduce and scientific experimentation can demonstrate;” he noted, “it includes the goodness and innate attractiveness of upright and ethical living made known to us in the very language of creation.”
At the end, the Pontiff thanked God and prayed that the links that bind Christians and Muslims in their profound reverence for the one God “will continue to grow stronger, so that they will reflect more clearly the wisdom of the Almighty, who enlightens the hearts of all mankind”. YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 19, 2009

Africa has received a particular vocation to know Christ. Let Africans be proud of this!” Benedict XVI recalled some significant moments in the Christian history of the continent to illustrate the intimate bond existing between Africa and Christianity from the beginning. “In Jesus, some two thousand years ago, God himself brought salt and light to Africa.” he said in his address to the Special Council of the Synod for Africa
Later he spoke about the themes to be addressed by the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, and of the need for reconciliation "between peoples, ethnic groups and individuals" on the continent. "Your continent," he said, "has been and continues to be a theatre of grave tragedies which cry out for true reconciliation between peoples, ethnic groups and individuals."
”In the power of the Holy Spirit,” the Holy Father ended, “I appeal to everyone: “Be reconciled to God!” (2 Cor5:20). No ethnic or cultural difference, no difference of race, sex or religion must become a cause for dispute among you. You are all children of the one God, our Father, who is in heaven. With this conviction, it will then be possible to build a more just and peaceful Africa, an Africa worthy of the legitimate expectations of all its children.” He entrusted to the Virgin Mary the preparation and the fruits of the Second Synod for Africa. YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 19, 2009

"Christ Himself Is Close to All Who Suffer" Affirmed the Holy Father when he visited the sick at the Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger Centre.  “You are not alone in your pain, for Christ himself is close to all who suffer. He reveals to the sick and infirm their place in the heart of God and in society.”
Benedict XVI recalled Simon of Cirene who helped Jesus on the way to the Cross and said that “Every African who suffers, indeed every person who suffers, helps Christ to carry his Cross and climbs with him the path to Golgotha in order one day to rise again with him.” And continued to meditate that “the radiant face of the Risen Lord  tells us that suffering and sickness will not have the last word in our human lives.” “I pray, dear brothers and sisters, that you will be able to recognize yourselves in "Simon of Cyrene". I pray, dear brothers and sisters who are sick, that many of you will encounter a Simon at your bedside.” “I entrust all of you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our Mother, and to the intercession of Saint Joseph. May God grant that we become bearers for one another of the mercy, tenderness and love of our God, and may he bless you!” The Holy Father ended. YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 19, 2009

"Seize the moment the Lord has given you!” Benedict XVI encouraged the people to build reconciliation and peace, and work to eliminate poverty and injustice in a farewell address to the Cameroonians. He thanked all who played a part in his visit, and above all, "those who have been praying so hard that this pastoral visit will bear fruit for the life of the Church in Africa." YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 20, 2009

Benedict XVI arrived at Luanda on the second phase of his visit to Africa. He said his intention is to reach out to the entire African continent, even if it has been necessary to restrict the itinerary to Yaoundé and to Luanda. “I would like everyone to know, however, that I keep very much in my heart and in my prayers Africa in general and the people of Angola in particular, whom I warmly encourage to continue along the path of peace-building and reconstruction of the country and its institutions.” He said.
”Dear Angolans, your land is abundant and your nation is mighty. Make use of these advantages to build peace and understanding between peoples, based upon loyalty and equality that can promote for Africa the peaceful future in solidarity that everyone longs for and to which everyone is entitled.”
“¡Do not yield to the law of the strongest!” the Pope warned. LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 20, 2009

"The time has come for Africa to be the Continent of Hope," the Pope said after noting that Angola itself "is on the road to recovery." He encouraged the peoples of Africa to not rely simply on the help of other nations to transform their continent, but to be the "primary agents" of their own development. The Pontiff said this today upon visiting the President of Angola, along with political and civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, at the presidential palace.
In his address he quoted Ecclesia in Africa and underlined the importance of the family in the continent, which constitutes "the foundation on which the social edifice is built."
"Yet the strains upon families, as we all know, are many indeed: anxiety and ignominy caused by poverty, unemployment, disease and displacement, to mention but a few," he explained. "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."
Another concern of Benedict XVI is the promotion of 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' health care! How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health!" he exclaimed.
The Holy father assured that “the Church 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, realized in harmonious complementarity." LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 20, 2009

You hold within yourselves the power to shape the future” The Pope told the youth gathered at Dos Coqueiros Stadium in Luanda. He gave them a message of hope and trust in God, who is the future and does not leave us without an answer, the Pope affirmed; “he tells us one thing very clearly: renewal starts from within; you will receive a power from on high. The power to shape the future is within you.”
In view of all the problems young people face, Benedict XVI noted how during Christ’s life “the Romans remained in power and everyday life continued to be hard, despite those miracles and those beautiful words. People's enthusiasm was waning so much that even some of his disciples had left the Master (cf. Jn 6:66)”  “It was then that Jesus spoke about the sower who sows in the field of the world, and he explained that the seed is his word (Mk 4:3-20) and his miracles of healing.”
 “The seed seems almost nothing. But it is the presence of the future, the promise already present. When it falls on good soil, it produces fruit, thirty, sixty and even a hundredfold.”
“Young people of Angola, unleash the power of the Holy Spirit within you, the power from on high! Trusting in this power, like Jesus, risk taking a leap and making a definitive decision. Give life a chance!” the Holy Father ended “This is the life worthy of being lived, and I commend it to you from my heart. May God bless the young people of Angola!” LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 21, 2009

"Let Us Make Haste to Know the Lord" At the Mass with bishops, priests, religious, ecclesial movements and catechists at São Paolo Church in Luanda, Benedict XVI ended his homily urging: "Let us enable human poverty to encounter divine mercy. 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. And so we ought truly to be his friends, to be one in mind with him, to desire what he desires and to reject what he does not desire. Jesus himself said: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:14). Let this, then, be our common commitment: together to do his holy will: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). 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!" (1 Corinthians 9:16). LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 21, 2009

The Holy Father prayed for the victims. Two young girls died Saturday when crushed by a stampede of people trying to enter the Dos Coqueiros Stadium in Luanda. The stampede, which injured 40 people, happened after the stadium's opening for the Pope's meeting with more than 30,000 youth. The news of the deaths was unknown until the after the meeting. The Pope offered prayers for the victims and their families today at the beginning of the Mass with more than one million people in the Cimangola field outside Luanda. LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 22, 2009

God does not give up on us.”  Benedict XVI said in his homily at a Mass with bishops of the IMBISA (Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa). “Today's first reading has a particular resonance for God's people in Angola. Its vivid description of the destruction and ruin caused by war echoes the personal experience of so many people in this country amid the terrible ravages of the civil war. How true it is that war can "destroy everything of value" (cf. 2 Chr 36:19)”
“Yet the word of God is a word of unbounded hope."God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son ... so that through him, the world might be saved" (Jn 3:16-17). God does not give up on us! He continues to lift our eyes to a future of hope, and he promises us the strength to accomplish it.”
 “In Baptism you were given the Spirit in order to be heralds of God's Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace”
“Be confident that the Gospel can affirm, purify and ennoble the profound human values present in your native culture and traditions: your strong families, your deep religious sense, your joyful celebration of the gift of life, your appreciation of the wisdom of the elderly and the aspirations of the young.”
“Look to the future with hope, trust in God's promises, and live in his truth. In this way, you will build something destined to endure, and leave to future generations a lasting inheritance of reconciliation, justice and peace.” LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 22, 2009

Pope highlighted women's mission to defend humanity. At a meeting in Santo António Parish of Luanda the Pope spoke to representatives of Catholic movements on the topic of the promotion of women. He underlined Mary's role in the Gospel story of the wedding at Cana, noting that "her maternal mediation thus made possible the 'good wine,' prefiguring a new covenant between divine omnipotence and the poor but receptive human heart."
He exhorted his audience to "recognize, affirm and defend the equal dignity of man and woman" because "they are both persons, utterly unique among all the living beings found in the world." LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 22, 2009
Full text:

On the Close of the Papal Visit to Africa. The Pope recited the Angelus and implored “May the Holy Mother of God, who points us to her Son, our brother, remind Christians everywhere of our duty to love our neighbour, to be peacemakers, to be the first to forgive those who have sinned against us, even as we have been forgiven.”
“Here in Southern Africa, let us ask our Lady in a particular way to intercede for peace, the conversion of hearts, and an end to the conflict in the neighbouring Great Lakes region. May her Son, the Prince of Peace, bring healing to the suffering, consolation to those who mourn, and strength to all who carry forward the difficult process of dialogue, negotiation and the cessation of violence.” LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 22, 2009.

Other papal activities.

Pontiff Proclaims Year for Priests. Benedict XVI met with participants of the Congregation for Clergy's plenary assembly and explained the importance of the ministerial priesthood in the Church. The Holy Father encouraged solid doctrinal education among clergy and spoke about the urgent need for priests to be "present, identifiable and recognizable -- for their judgment of faith, personal virtues and attire -- in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission." He also announced his intention to convoke a Year for Priests, beginning June 19, on the occasion of 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2009

A prayer for the Holy Father 
Christ Jesus, King and Lord of the Church, in your presence I renew my unconditional loyalty to your Vicar on earth, the Pope. In him you have chosen to show us the safe and sure path that we must follow in the midst of confusion, uneasiness, and unrest. I firmly believe that through him you govern, teach, and sanctify us; with him as our shepherd, we form the true Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Grant me the grace to love, live, and spread faithfully our Holy Father’s teachings. Watch over his life, enlighten his mind, strengthen his spirit, defend him from calumny and evil. Calm the erosive winds of infidelity and disobedience. Hear our prayer and keep your Church united around him, firm in its belief and action, that it may truly be the instrument of your redemption. Amen.





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