Africa Urged to Care for Its Soul

Benedict XVI Presided at Stadium Mass in Cameroon

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YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 19, 2009 ( If Africa isn’t careful, it is at risk of losing its many human and spiritual values, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today to more than 40,000 faithful who attended the Mass he presided over at Yaoundé’s Amadou Ahidjo stadium, which marked the publication of the “instrumentum laboris” of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
Speaking to the mothers and fathers present, the Pontiff asked, “Do you accept that [God] is counting on you to pass on to your children the human and spiritual values that you yourselves have received and which will prepare them to live with love and respect for his holy name?”

“You must be very careful,” he warned. “Africa in general, and Cameroon in particular, place themselves at risk if they do not recognize the True Author of Life!

“Brothers and sisters in Cameroon and throughout Africa, you who have received from God so many human virtues, take care of your souls!”

“Do not let yourselves be captivated by selfish illusions and false ideals,” he continued. “Believe — yes! — continue to believe in God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — he alone truly loves you in the way you yearn to be loved, he alone can satisfy you, can bring stability to your lives. Only Christ is the way of Life.”

Benedict XVI noted that the family in Africa “is experiencing a difficult time,” and that “certain values of the traditional life have been overturned.”

For example, he said, “relationships between different generations have evolved in a way that no longer favors the transmission of accumulated knowledge and inherited wisdom.”

The Pope also cited the “rural exodus” as a factor that is affecting “the quality of family ties.”

“Uprooted and fragile members of the younger generation who often — sadly — are without gainful employment, seek to cure their pain by living in ephemeral and man-made paradises which we know will never guarantee the human being a deep, abiding happiness,” he explained.


Benedict XVI said the trend isn’t irreversible, and that the first step to restoring strength to the family consists in “restoring a sense of the acceptance of life as a gift from God.”

“According to both sacred Scripture and the wisest traditions of your continent, the arrival of a child is always a gift, a blessing from God,” he explained. “Today it is high time to place greater emphasis on this: Every human being, every tiny human person, however weak, is created ‘in the image and likeness of God.’

“Every person must live! Death must not prevail over life! Death will never have the last word!”

“Sons and daughters of Africa, do not be afraid to believe, to hope, and to love,” the Pontiff urged. “Do not be afraid to say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that we can be saved by him alone.”  

“‘Hoping against hope’: Is this not a magnificent description of a Christian,” Benedict XVI asked. “Africa is called to hope through you and in you! With Jesus Christ, who trod the African soil, Africa can become the continent of hope!”

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