Africa's Joy, Reverence Impresses Pontiff

Reflects on Recent Trip to Cameroon, Angola

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009 ( Joy and a sense of the sacred are two aspects of the peoples of Africa that most impressed Benedict XVI during his recent trip to the continent.

In his weekly Angelus address, the Pope reflected on the fruits of his recent trip to Cameroon and Angola. The Pope returned last Monday from the 7-day trip, during which he said he experienced “deep emotion” upon meeting the Catholic communities there.

The Pontiff two aspects that impressed him: “The first is the visible joy in the faces of the people, the joy of feeling part of the family of God, and I thank the Lord for having been able to share moments of simple choral and faith-filled celebration with great numbers of our brothers and sisters.

“The second aspect is precisely the strong sense of the sacred that one breathes in the liturgical celebrations, a characteristic common to all the peoples of Africa, which I could say emerged in every moment of my stay among those dear people.”

The Holy Father said the visit helped him to understand the “reality of the Church in Africa in the variety of the experiences and challenges that she finds before her at this time.”

Grain of wheat

Benedict XVI then offered a reflection on a portion of today’s Gospel: “If the grain of wheat that falls to the earth does not die, it remains alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

“Only in this way can a new humanity sprout and grow, free from the domination of sin and able to live in fraternity, as the sons and daughters of the one Father who is in heaven,” the Pope explained.

“In the great feast of faith that was experienced together in Africa, we saw that this new humanity is alive, even with its human limitations,” the Holy Father continued. “There where, like Jesus, missionaries gave, and continue to spend, their lives for the Gospel, abundant fruit is harvested.

“I would like to express my gratitude for the good that they do. These missionaries are men and women, religious and lay. It was beautiful to see the fruit of their love for Christ and observe the deep thankfulness that the Christians have for them.”

He added, “Let us give thanks to God and pray to Mary Most Holy that Christ’s message of hope and love be spread through whole world.”

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