“First of all,” he said, “I wish to the thank God and all those who in various ways have worked for the success of the apostolic trip I undertook in recent days in Africa. I call for the blessings of heaven to fall on the seeds scattered across this African land.”
The Pope noted that two factors impressed him during his trip to Africa. The first one was “the joy one could see in the faces of the people, joy to feel part of the one family of God.” The second was “the strong sense of the sacred that one could feel in the liturgical celebrations, a feature found in all African peoples, emerging, as it were, in each moment of my stay among these beloved communities.”
Speaking about the Sunday Gospel, which includes words by Jesus about the grain of wheat that dies producing “much fruit”) (John, 12:24), he said that “it is necessary . . . for Jesus to die like a grain of wheat which God the Father scattered around the world. Only thus can a new humanity develop and grow, free from the power of sin, but capable of living in brotherhood, like sons and daughters of the same Father who lives in heaven.”
Also “we saw that this new humanity was alive, albeit within its human limits, in the great celebration of faith we experienced together in Africa. Wherever missionaries, like Jesus, spend and continue to spend their life for the Gospel, fruit is harvested in abundance. To them, whether women and men religious or lay men and women, I wish to express my special gratitude for the good they do. It was beautiful to see the fruit of their love for Christ and realise how deep the appreciation for them among Christians is. Let us thank God and pray to the Most Holy Mary that Christ’s message of hope and love spread across the entire world.”
After the Marian prayer the Pontiff greeted a large group of Africans living in Rome, including many students, who were led by Mgr Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
“You came to express your joy and gratitude for my apostolic trip to Africa,” he said. And for this “I thank you wholeheartedly and pray for you, your families and your countries of origin. Thank you!”
Benedict XVI also urged those present to attend the Mass he will celebrate next Thursday, 2 April, fourth anniversary of the death of John Paul II.
The Pope especially invited young people “to prepare together for World Youth Day” which this year will be celebrated at the diocesan level on Palm Sunday.