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    » 03/17/2009, 00.00


    In the face of evil, Christians cannot remain silent, said the Pope in Africa

    After arriving in Cameroon in his first trip to Africa, Benedict XVI talks about the Church’s message which does not offer “new forms of economic or political oppression, but the glorious freedom of the children of God.” He speaks out in defence of life and tackles the AIDS issue, a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money or “distributing condoms,” which “only increases the problem.”
    Yaoundé (AsiaNews) – “In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent,” said Benedict XVI in a strongly-worded message for Africa and the rest of the world after he arrived this afternoon in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in the first leg of his first trip to Africa.

    In a young country celebrating 50 years of independence, the Pope was welcomed by President Paul Biya, as well as other civilian and religious leaders, including non Catholics, and by a small but loud and festive crowd.

    In his address the Pope said he brought the hope embodied by a young African, Josephine Bakhita, who was born a slave and became a saint. “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 Pontiff said.

    “Regional conflicts leave thousands homeless or destitute, orphaned or widowed. In a continent which, in times past, saw so many of its people cruelly uprooted and traded overseas to work as slaves, today human trafficking, especially of defenceless women and children, has become a new form of slavery. At a time of global food shortages, financial turmoil, and disturbing patterns of climate change, Africa suffers disproportionately: more and more of her people are falling prey to hunger, poverty, and disease. They cry out for reconciliation, justice and peace, and that is what the Church offers them.”

    The Church is not seeking “new forms of economic or political oppression, but the glorious freedom of the children of God (cf Rom, 8:21). Not the imposition of cultural models that ignore the rights of the unborn, but the pure healing water of the Gospel of life. Not bitter interethnic or inter-religious rivalry, but the righteousness, peace and joy of God’s kingdom, so aptly described by Pope Paul VI as the civilization of love (cf Regina Coeli Message, Pentecost Sunday, 1970).

    During his flight from Rome the Pope touched upon some of the issues central to his visit like the lack of equity in economic exchange, exploitation and the defence of life, issues which are part of the Instrumentum laboris, the working paper destined for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of Africa, which he came to present to the continent.

    In response to journalists the Holy Father mentioned how much the Catholic Church does for the fight against AIDS in Africa, a tragedy that in his view cannot be overcome by money or “distributing condoms. It only increases the problem.” Instead, what is necessary is morally correct human behaviour and great care for the sick, i.e. suffering with the suffering.

    “It is particularly commendable,” he noted, “that Aids sufferers are able to receive treatment free of charge in this country,” whose government “speaks out in defence of the rights of the unborn.”

    Indeed for the Pope a lack of ethics is responsible for the profound economic crisis that is disproportionately affecting the poor, in Africa and in the rest of the world. For him the current economic crisis is the result of an ethics gap.

    The Holy Father announced that he would address this issue in his next encyclical. The original version was almost ready, but had to be put off, he said, because of the worldwide recession that forced him to rework it so as to offer humanity a message for our times.

    Finally Benedict XVI addressed one last sensitive issue, praising Cameroon for welcoming “[t]housands of refugees from war-torn countries in the region [who] have received a welcome here. It is a land of life, with a Government that speaks out in defence of the rights of the unborn. It is a land of peace: by resolving through dialogue the dispute over the Bakassi peninsula, Cameroon and Nigeria have shown the world that patient diplomacy can indeed bear fruit.”

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    See also

    29/05/2009 VATICAN
    Crisis threatens peace, requires solidarity and sobriety, Pope says
    Benedict XVI received eight new ambassadors, who presented their Letters of Credence. He calls India a model of harmonic coexistence but is concerned about anti-Christian violence, hopeful that offenders will be investigated and tried. He mentions good relations with Mongolia.

    18/03/2009 VATICAN - CAMEROON
    Pope: paternity and dedication of Saint Joseph are a model for all Christians
    Celebrating vespers in Yaoundé, Benedict XVI points out the saint whose name he bears as an example for priests, religious, and laity. A statement from Fr. Lombardi clarifies that the pope's words about AIDS restated the positions of the Catholic Church on this scourge.

    19/03/2009 VATICAN - AFRICA
    Pope: faith holds answer to those who want to impose the "reign of money"
    On the feast of Saint Joseph, Benedict XVI tells fathers and mothers to look to the saint as an example of trust. In Cameroon, the presentation of the working document for the Synod for Africa. In a cordial meeting with Muslims, the pope again talks about faith and reason. "God loves you," he tells children who have been abused and forced to become soldiers.

    13/02/2009 TAIWAN
    Bishops: Church should be missionary, focus on laity, and support Catholics of mainland China
    In 2009, Taiwan celebrates the 150th anniversary of its evangelization. The decline of vocations and the "need of consolation" in society require a new missionary effort. The figure of St. Paul as an example for all to follow.

    12/03/2009 VATICAN
    Mistakes, misunderstandings and “hatred” in the Lefebvrite bishops affair, says Pope
    In a letter to all Catholic bishops, Benedict XVI explains that his decision to remit the excommunication was dictated by his search for unity, essential in a world where “God is disappearing from the human horizon.” The Vatican admits mistakes, but a misconstrued notion of freedom ended up challenging the peace within the Church, in which the Society and its ministers “do not exercise legitimate ministries.”

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