Benedict XVI Speaks for Impoverished Angolans

Underlines Reason and Faith, Not Law of Strongest

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LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 20, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is affirming Angolan people in their faith in Christ, noting that this will help them reach out to their poor and needy neighbors for the good of all.

The Pope said this upon his arrival to the Quatro de Fevereiro Airport in Angola this afternoon. He was welcomed by President José Eduardo dos Santos, as well as the president of the Angola bishops’ conference, Archbishop Damião António Franklin of Luanda.

He expressed his desire to «reach out to the entire African continent,» even though his itinerary has been restricted to Yaoundé and to Luanda.

He encouraged the people of Angola «to continue along the path of peace-building and reconstruction of the country and its institutions.»

The Pontiff reminded his listeners that he comes from «a country where peace and fraternity are dear to the hearts of all its people, in particular those, like myself, who have known war and division between family members from the same nation as a result of inhuman and destructive ideologies, which, under the false appearance of dreams and illusions, caused the yoke of oppression to weigh down upon the people.»

He noted the consequent awareness of the need for dialogue «as a way of overcoming every form of conflict and tension and making every nation — including your own — into a house of peace and fraternity.»

The Holy Father urged the Angolans to "take from your spiritual and cultural heritage the best values» and then «go out to meet one another fearlessly, agreeing to share personal resources, both spiritual and material, for the good of all.»

He recalled the people of the province of Kunene, afflicted by torrential rains and floods that caused many deaths and left numerous families homeless. He encouraged them «to have the confidence to start again with the help of all.»

Peaceful future

Benedict XVI told the Angolans: «Your land is abundant and your nation is mighty. Make use of these advantages to build peace and understanding between peoples, based upon loyalty and equality that can promote for Africa the peaceful future in solidarity that everyone longs for and to which everyone is entitled.

«To this end, I ask you: do not yield to the law of the strongest! God has enabled human beings to fly, over and above their natural tendencies, on the wings of reason and faith.»

These wings, he said, enable people to recognize their neighbors as brothers and sisters, «born with the same fundamental human rights.»

He recalled the numerous Angolans living below the threshold of poverty, exhorting his listeners, «Do not disappoint their expectations!»

The Pope affirmed that «before there can be a society that is truly solicitous for the common good, there have to be common values, shared by all.»

He added, «I am convinced that modern Angola will be able to find such values in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.»

The Pontiff acknowledged that the occasion for his Angola visit is «to be together with one of the oldest Catholic communities in sub-equatorial Africa, to strengthen it in its faith in the risen Jesus and to join its sons and daughters in praying that this time of peace in Angola, in justice and fraternity, may prove lasting, allowing the community to carry out the mission that God has entrusted to it for the good of its people within the family of Nations.»

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