VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I will be making my first apostolic visit to Africa from Tuesday, March 17, to Monday, March 23. I will travel to Cameroon and to its capital, Yaoundé, to deliver the “instrumentum laboris” for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October here in the Vatican. From there I will travel to Luanda, the capital of Angola, a country that, after a long civil war, has found peace again and is now called to rebuild itself in justice.
With this visit I intend to embrace the whole African continent: its thousands of differences and profound religious soul; its ancient cultures and its toilsome road to development and reconciliation; its grave problems, its painful wounds and its enormous possibilities and hopes. I intend to confirm the African Catholics in faith, to encourage the Christians in their ecumenical commitment, and bring to all the announcement of peace that the Lord has entrusted to his Church.
As I prepare myself for this missionary journey, in my soul resounds the words of the Apostle Paul that the liturgy proposes for our meditation on this third Sunday of Lent: “We proclaim Christ crucified,” the Apostle writes to the Christians of Corinth, “a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the pagans; but for those who are called, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
Yes, dear brothers and sisters! I depart for African with the awareness of having nothing else to propose and give to those whom I will meet if not Christ and the Good News of his cross, mystery of supreme love, of divine love that defeats all human resistance and in the end makes forgiveness and love of enemies possible. This is the grace of the Gospel that is capable of transforming the world; this is the grace that can renew Africa, because it generates an irresistible power of peace and of deep and radical reconciliation. The Church does not pursue economic, social and political objectives; the Church proclaims Christ, certain that the Gospel can touch the hearts of all and transform them, renewing persons and society from within.
On March 19, during the pastoral visit to Africa, we will celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, and my personal patron. St. Joseph, warned in a dream by an angel, had to flee with Mary to Egypt, in Africa, to take the newly born Jesus to a safe place, far from King Herod who wanted to kill him. The Scriptures were thus fulfilled: Jesus followed in the footsteps of the patriarchs of old and, like the people of Israel, reentered the Promised Land after having been in exile in Egypt. To the heavenly intercession of this great saint I entrust this upcoming pilgrimage and the peoples of all of Africa, with the challenges that face them and the hopes that animate them. I think especially of the victims of hunger, disease, injustices, of the fratricidal conflicts and of every form of violence that, unfortunately, continues to strike adults and children, without sparing missionaries, priests, religious, and volunteers. Brothers and sisters, accompany me on this trip with your prayers, invoking Mary, Mother and Queen of Africa.[The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian, he said:]
This morning the Pauline Jubilee of University Students and Professors, promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture, and organized by the Vicariate of Rome, concludes in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The Jubilee’s theme was “What You Unknowingly Worship, I Proclaim to You: Gospel and Culture Toward a New Humanism.”
I am very glad for the presence of illustrious professors and delegates from university chaplaincies from every continent here in Rome. I would like for pastoral ministries at universities to develop in all the local Churches, for the formation of young people and the elaboration of a culture inspired by the Gospel. Dear university students and professors, I encourage you and I accompany you in prayer.[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English, he said:]
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. As we continue our Lenten journey may our resolve to follow Jesus be strengthened through prayer, forgiveness, fasting and assistance to those in need. This Tuesday I leave Rome for my visit to Cameroon and Angola. My presence in the great Continent of Africa forms part of the preparation for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to the theme: “The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace”. I ask each of you to join me in praying that my visit will be a time of spiritual renewal for all Africans and an occasion in which civic and religious leaders will strengthen their resolve to walk the path of justice, integrity and compassion. May the lives of African men, women and children be transformed in hope! Upon all of you gathered and your loved ones, I gladly invoke the strength and peace of Christ the Lord.
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