LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming the Angolans in their efforts to build a future of forgiveness, solidarity and justice, and is appealing to politicians to care for the most needy.
The Pope said this today in a farewell address at Angola’s Quatro de Fevereiro airport before departing the country for Rome, concluding his pastoral visit to Africa. He spoke in the presence of José Eduardo dos Santos, the country’s president, political, civil and religious authorities, and a group of young people.
“I thank God that I have found the Church here to be so alive and full of enthusiasm,” he affirmed, “despite the difficulties, able to take up its own cross and that of others, bearing witness before everyone to the saving power of the Gospel message.”
The Church “continues to proclaim that the time of hope has come,” he said, and it “is committed to bringing peace and promoting the exercise of fraternal charity in a way that is acceptable to all, respecting the ideas and sensitivities of each person.”
The Pontiff expressed sadness at having to say goodbye, but also gladness “to have known a courageous people determined to begin again.”
He made a last appeal, asking that the “just realization of the fundamental aspirations of the most needy peoples should be the principal concern of those in public office.”
“Our hearts cannot find peace while there are still brothers and sisters who suffer for lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods,” noted the Holy Father.
He added, “If we are to offer a definite response to these fellow human beings, the first challenge to be overcome is that of building solidarity.”
This solidarity, he explained, should be between generations, between nations and between continents, and “should lead to an ever more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources among all people.”
He prayed for God’s protection and assistance on “the countless refugees who have fled their country, and are now at large, waiting to be able to return home.”
God does not forget you, affirmed Benedict XVI, “God loves you like sons and daughters; he watches over your days and your nights, your labors and your aspirations.”
He exhorted the Angolans: “Never tire of promoting peace, making gestures of forgiveness and working for national reconciliation, so that violence may never prevail over dialogue, nor fear and discouragement over trust, nor rancor over fraternal love.
“This is all possible if you recognize one another as children of the same Father, the one Father in Heaven.”
After the departure ceremony, the Pope’s flight took off at 10:30 this morning, and arrived in Rome at 6:00 this evening.
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-25460?l=english