VATICAN CITY, 23 NOV 2011 (VIS) – The Holy Father dedicated his general audience, held this morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, to reflections on his recently concluded apostolic trip to Benin. The trip had a threefold purpose: marking the 150th anniversary of evangelisation in that region, consigning the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Africae munus”, and paying homage to the late Beninese Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.

The Pope reminisced about the various stages of his journey, beginning
with his visit to the basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Ouidah where
he “placed the fruits of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod
of Bishops at the feet of the Blessed Virgin. … Christian communities in
Africa”, he said, “are now called to renew themselves in the faith, in order
to serve reconciliation, justice and peace. They are invited to inner reconciliation in order to become joyful instruments of divine mercy, each
contributing to the common good with its own spiritual and material wealth.

“Such a spirit of reconciliation is of course also indispensable in civil life”, the Pope added, “and has to remain open to the hope which must also animate the socio-political and economic life of the continent”. The Pontiff then turned to focus on his meeting with civil, political and religious authorities in Benin, to whom he had likewise “stressed the hope that must drive the development of the continent”, at the same time “highlighting the ardent desire for freedom and justice which has moved the hearts of so many African peoples, especially in recent months”.

Speaking of the celebration of the Eucharist at the “Stade de l’amitie” in Cotonou, Benedict XVI noted that the presence of both young and old was “a
marvellous testament to the fact that the faith unites the generations and
responds to the challenges of every stage of life”. During that celebration,
the Pope gave the presidents of African episcopal conferences the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Africae munus”, in which, he said, “the
faithful will find the fundamental guidelines to lead and stimulate the journey of the Church in Africa, which is increasingly called to be ‘salt of
the earth’ and ‘light of the world'”.

The Holy Father also dwelt on his meeting with children and sick people at
the church of St. Rita and at the Home of Peace and Happiness, run by sisters of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. There he had “truly
tasted the joy of life, the delight and enthusiasm of the new generations
who represent the future of Africa”, and had seen “how love and solidarity
can cause the power and affection of the risen Christ to be present, even in

The commitment of clergy, religious and laity is “a sign of sure hope for
the future of the Church in Benin”, said the Holy Father who also recalled
how he had encouraged priests to follow “the path of sanctity, in the
awareness that the ministry is not simply a social function, but a means for
bringing God to man and man to God”.

The Holy Father’s meeting with the Beninese episcopate had focused on “the
origins of the announcement of the Gospel in their country, by the work of
missionaries”, and on his exhortation to them “constantly to rediscover Holy
Scripture as a source of spiritual renewal and an opportunity to intensify
the faith”.

“In Africa”, the Holy Father explained, “I saw a freshness in the ‘yes’ to
life, a freshness of religious meaning and hope, a holistic vision of
reality where God is not confined to that positivist perspective which, in
the final analysis, extinguishes all hope. This tells us that the continent
contains reserves of life and vitality for the future, reserves upon which
we can rely, upon which the Church can rely.

“My journey”, he added in conclusion, “was also by way of being an appeal
to Africa to concentrate every effort on announcing the Gospel to those who
do not yet know it, to renew the commitment to evangelisation, to which each member of the baptised is called by promoting reconciliation, justice and peace”.


At the end of today’s general audience the Holy Father welcomed pilgrims in ten different languages, among them “a delegation from the Catholic-Orthodox Forum, which includes many prelates to whom I address my cordial greetings. To the Catholic members in particular, I express my sincere best wishes for the fortieth anniversary of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE)”.

The Pope also spoke in Croatian to priests and faithful from the Greek-Catholic diocese of Krizevci. “Dear friends”, he said, “you have begun
celebrating a Jubilee in your eparchy to mark the 400th anniversary of union with the Church of Rome and of the establishment of the eparchy of Marca. Today you are thanking God for all the gifts you have received with this pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. May your
centuries-long union with the Bishop of Rome help you to become builders of
communion between the Christian East and West”.

Finally Benedict XVI turned to address Hungarian pilgrims “and especially
a group of Gypsies from the province of Tolna. May the splendour of the faith guide you along the roads of life”, he said.

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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3 Responses to AFRICA IS THE CONTINENT OF HOPE, SAYS BENEDICT XVI – Wednesday General Audience.

  1. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Unfortunately, hope is all they have left on this gravely wounded continent.


  2. afmm says:

    There are any number of encouraging economic, and to a lesser extent, political developments in Africa. As well as the growing faith of the Africans. The worry, as so often, is the Islamist threat.
    Pray God that it will diminish, which DOES take a certain amount of hope.



  3. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Oh Anne; may I just say to you – “short sleeve or long sleeve”? May I say AIDS and mass rape? May I say 14 year old child soldier killers? Just for starters.

    May I say that it is not the Islamists (as ugly as any fundamentalists are) who ravage this continent? How about the ‘Lord’s Resistance Army”? How about gangsters?

    I am pleased you agree that hope is all they have got. Not a “certain amount”, but ALL they’ve got.

    Hope , of course, is useless.



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