Africa's Woes Are Because Fraternity Is Hard Work, Says Pope

Easy to Talk About Selflessness, Difficult to Live It

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ON BOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, NOV. 18, 2011 ( Benedict XVI says that the many problems in Africa can ultimately be traced to the simple fact that «fraternity demands renunciation.»

The Pope said this today on board the papal plane headed to Benin for the second Africa trip of this pontificate. He returns to Rome on Sunday.

Asked what specific contribution the Church can make to a durable peace in Africa, the Holy Father recognized that in the political arena, «the words, the desires and good intentions [regarding Africa] are greater than what’s been accomplished.»

«We have to ask ourselves why the reality doesn’t match these words and good intentions,» he said. «A fundamental factor, it seems to me, is that a renewal in the direction of universal fraternity demands renunciation.

«It demands going beyond egoism, to be for the other. That’s easy to say but hard to accomplish. The human person, after original sin, wants to possess himself — to have life, not to give life. I want to keep whatever I have. Naturally with this mentality, that I don’t want to give but to have, things don’t work.»

Benedict XVI affirmed that only an awareness of a God who loves and gives himself can bring «a capacity to give ourselves away.»

«This is a fundamental position,» he added, «that loving God and being in friendship with this God who gives himself to us, we too can dare and learn to give and not simply to have, to renounce ourselves for the other, and to give up our lives in the certainty that this is precisely how we’ll gain them.»

In other questions, the Holy Father addressed the issue of evangelical and pentecostal communities, offering three recommendations for the Catholic Church in the areas of the message, the institution and the liturgy.

He also recalled with fondness his personal friendship with a national hero of Benin, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.

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