2009 Unfolded With an Africa Theme, Says Pope

Stresses Need for Reconciliation on All Levels

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI, while highlighting key events of this year, noted that 2009 has “passed largely under the sign of Africa.”

The Pope affirmed this today when he had his traditional exchange of Christmas greetings with prelates and members of the Roman Curia. In this annual address, the Holy Father highlights key events of the year.

This year he spoke about his apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola, which took place March 17-23, as well as the Synod of Bishops for Africa, held Oct. 4-25 in Rome.

The visit to Africa, the Pontiff said, was “moving,” as he experienced a reception of “great warmth,” “festive joy and cordial affection.”

He noted that he was “particularly impressed” by the liturgical celebrations he witnessed in those countries.

“The celebrations of the Holy Eucharist were authentic feasts of faith,” Benedict XVI affirmed.

He described two “particularly important elements” that he observed: “First of all, there was the great joy that was shared, which was experienced even through the body, but in a disciplined way that was oriented towards the presence of the living God.

“And that in itself already indicated the second element: the sense of sacredness — the mystery of the living God that was present shaped, so to speak, each single gesture. The Lord is present — the Creator, he to whom we all belong, from which we all came, and towards whom are all journeying.”


The Pope next spoke about the synod, which followed a few months after his visit to Africa, and the experience of collegiality among the prelates at that event.

It was “touching” to hear the testimonies from the faithful of that continent, he said, “stories of suffering as well as of concrete reconciliations in the tragedies that have marked the continent’s recent history.”

The bishops had the task to “transform theology into pastoral activity,” the Pontiff noted, to apply Scripture and tradition to “a specific time and place.”

He added, however, that “we must not fall into the temptation of taking politics in hand, and turn ourselves from pastors into political leaders.”

The synod, the Holy Father said, “sought to examine deeply the concept of reconciliation as a task for the Church today, calling attention to its various dimensions.”

He continued: “Part of reconciliation is the capacity to recognize one’s fault and to ask forgiveness — from God, and from one’s neighbor.

“Likewise, part of reconciliation is the readiness to do penitence, the readiness to suffer to the utmost for one’s fault and to allow oneself to be transformed.”

“If reconciliation is not in the heart,” Benedict XVI said, “then the political commitment to peace lacks its interior prerequisite.”

He recalled that in the synod, “the pastors of the Church committed themselves to that interior purification of man that constitutes the essential preliminary condition to build justice and peace.”

The Pope reminded his listeners that “such a purification and interior maturation towards true humanity cannot take place without God.”

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