VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI’s visit to Cameroon and Angola supported the development of uniquely African style of Christianity, said a journalist for L’Osservatore Romano.
In an article published last week, Mario Ponzi evaluated the Pope’s first trip to Africa, concluding that his 11th international apostolic pilgrimage manifested the Pontiff’s “appreciation of local cultural and liturgical manifestations.”
The journalist reported that the visit took place at a time in which the Church in Africa is intensifying “an attentive endeavor of ‘inculturation’ of the Gospel, and of integration of the cultural expressiveness typical of the continent, in liturgical celebrations.”
“During the trip, on some occasions, Africans showed Benedict XVI how they are progressing on this path,” the article stated.
The Vatican newspaper noted an important moment, during the celebration of the Mass in the Amadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaoundé, when the Pope handed over the Instrumentum laboris [working document] of the next Synod of bishops, which will be held in Rome next October.
Ponzi recalled the atmosphere at the Mass, including “sacred songs, accompanied by the traditional instruments of African tribes, enthroning of the Gospel on portable platforms, borne by young people dressed in traditional costumes, preceded and followed by groups of young people who held palms.”
“But above all,” he added, “it was the songs of a chorus of 60,000 people that showed exactly to what point Africans need to continue to be themselves in order to find themselves again at home in the house of the Father.”
The newspaper stated that “on meeting these peoples, the concept of civilization and culture, with which we usually make reference to the European model or, at least, the Western, is accidental.” It added: “When the Pope speaks of the uniqueness of African culture, he points out its roots in the spiritual dimension.
“The sacred has always occupied a central position in the African vision of the world. The awareness of the bond between the Creator and the creature is profound.”
L’Osservatore Romano observed that Benedict XVI appreciated “the manifestations of African culture proposed during his trip.”
“He only recommended that the solemnity, integrity and composition of the celebration itself not be lost,” it concluded.