Angola Prepares for Benedict XVI Visit

Bishop Describes Hopes and Expectations for Country

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VIANA, Angola, MARCH 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The bishop of Viana, Angola, said that Benedict XVI’s scheduled visit to his country this month has inspired a flurry of preparations and hopes for political and personal peace.

Bishop Joaquim Ferreira Lopes affirmed this in an interview published Thursday by the Portuguese news agency Ecclesia, in which he spoke about the Pope’s apostolic journey to Cameroon and Angola, planned for March 17-23.

The bishop mentioned that the Pope «will go to Cameroon to give the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’ for the next synod [on Africa] in October, and it is natural that he should visit another nation.»

He continued, «In southern Africa, Angola occupies a privileged historical place, given that the Church started here at the end of the 15th century, and the whole epic of the Church south of the Equator passes through here, as a sign that no other nation has; no one can take this primacy away from Angola.»

Bishop Lopes pointed out that, since the announcement of the papal visit last October, «the whole country began to prepare itself to receive the Pope.»

Worthwhile expense

The bishop referred especially to the question of security, stating that «these visits are made and prepared very precisely, in a joint endeavor between the country receiving the Pope and the Vatican.»

He continued: «Changes have already been made in the Holy Father’s program, precisely because some places did not offer total security; I am certain that everything will be all right, because the capability of the Angolan people in this area is very great.»

Referring to the expenses of the Pope’s visit, the prelate acknowledged that «it implies out of the ordinary expenses.» He affirmed that the visit will have the support of the government and «all Christians are determined to contribute, according to their possibilities, from the financial point of view.»

He said that the papal visit to the Christian community and the population in general «is of such an order that it justifies these expenses, which will not be exaggerated given that our country, despite being potentially wealthy, is poor in several aspects.»

He added: «We believe it is worthwhile to spend the money; we will never regret it, because the good that will come from this papal visit will be extraordinary and will have an effect on the pacification of spirits, which is what we most want in Angola after signing the peace [agreement].

«Political peace is one thing, but social peace, personal peace and peace of hearts must be strengthened.»

Angola is still struggling to recover from a 27-year civil war that just ended in 2002.

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