Benedict XVI talked about his African Trip. The Holy Father said he was impressed by "the almost exuberant cordiality, the joy of a festive Africa, which it seems to me saw in hope, lets say, the personification of the fact that we are the children and family of God." On the other hand, he was very impressed by the spirit of recollection in the liturgies, the strong sense of the sacred, "their awareness of the divine presence."
Benedict XVI expressed his profound sorrow over the death of two girls trampled by the crowd, which also left some 90 wounded, in the incident that took place outside Luanda's Coqueiros Stadium. "I have prayed, and pray for them," said the Pontiff.
The Holy Father also reflected on his visit to Yaoundé's Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger Center, a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities. "It touched my heart to see here the world of the many sufferings, of all suffering, the sadness, the poverty of human existence, but also to see how the state and Church collaborate to help those who suffer," commented the Pope. "And one sees, it seems to me, that when a man helps one who suffers he is more of a man, the world becomes more human: This is engraved in my memory," he added. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 24.
Benedict XVI received the president of Cyprus. They discussed the future of Cyprus and the importance of interreligious dialogue. The country, comprised of approximately 78% Greek Orthodox and 18% Muslims, joined the European Union in 2004. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2009
"Peace is never attained once and for all, but must be built up ceaselessly,” The Pope received the youth volunteers of Italy's civil service in audience Saturday, offering them a reflection on the pastoral constitution “Gaudium et Spes.” According to Benedict XVI, “the authentic conversion of hearts represents the right way, the only way that can lead each one of us and all humanity to the peace that we hope for.” He called them "workers of peace" and congratulated them on their enthusiasm and generosity. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009
"It Is No Longer Time for Words and Speeches" Before praying the midday Angelus Benedict XVI thanked God, and those who helped in various ways, for the success of the apostolic trip to Africa, and invoked the abundance of the blessings of heaven on the seeds that were sown in the African soil, the Holy father offered a reflection on a portion of today's Gospel: “If the grain of wheat that falls to the earth does not die, it remains alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24).
"Only in this way can a new humanity sprout and grow, free from the domination of sin and able to live in fraternity, as the sons and daughters of the one Father who is in heaven," the Pope explained.
"In the great feast of faith that was experienced together in Africa, we saw that this new humanity is alive, even with its human limitations," the Holy Father continued. "There where, like Jesus, missionaries gave, and continue to spend, their lives for the Gospel, abundant fruit is harvested.
"I would like to express my gratitude for the good that they do. These missionaries are men and women, religious and lay. It was beautiful to see the fruit of their love for Christ and observe the deep thankfulness that the Christians have for them."
He added, "Let us give thanks to God and pray to Mary Most Holy that Christ’s message of hope and love be spread through whole world." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009
African Students Defend Benedict XVI. The Pontiff did not hide the joy he felt at seeing numerous young African students gathered today in St. Peter’s Square to thank him for the message of hope he brought to the continent. Young men and women, some religious or seminarians, waving flags that represented various African countries, expressed their appreciation for the Pontiff's March 17-23 trip to Cameroon and Angola.
The head of the Committee of African Students in Rome, Pierre Baba Mansare, explained to ZENIT that the event was organized after seeing the coverage of the Pope's visit in the media: “Of the Holy Father’s whole pastoral message, the Western media only focused on the statement about condoms with the purpose of starting a polemic.” He said, and added that the students wanted to send a message to the Western media: "Don’t talk about Africa without knowing the reality, trampling on its values!"
Another organizer, Mari Anne Mollo of Cameroon, told ZENIT that she was disappointed with the coverage of the Papal trip: "The mass media presented the ugly, suffering, disease-filled side of the continent. We had expected that they would talk about a beautiful, welcoming, lively, smiling Africa
"Cameroon took two days of holiday to welcome the Pope," she said. "The journalists reduced the trip to [the statements] about condoms and ignored the Pontiff's [other] statements." ." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009
God Is Near Those in Need. Benedict XVI encouraged the community of a poor immigrant parish in Rome to have faith that even though God can't be seen, he is near to those in need. "We know that the 'sun,' although hidden, exists, that God is near, that he helps us and accompanies us," the Pontiff said upon addressing the small parish of The Holy Face of Jesus at Magliana, which is located on the outskirts of Rome. Benedict XVI exhorted to put themselves in the service of their neighbour, especially those who have problems because of the economic crisis. "In our time, marked by a general social and economic crisis, the effort that you are making above all through the parish Caritas and the Sant'Egidio group, to help the poorest and neediest as far as possible, is meritorious," he affirmed. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 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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