Yesterday morning Benedict XVI travelled from the apostolic nunciature in the Angolan capital Luanda to the city's 4 de Fevereiro airport. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and the country's civil, military and religious authorities were waiting there to bid the Holy Father farewell.
Having thanked everyone for the efforts made during the course of his visit, the Pope delivered a brief address:
"I thank God that I have found the Church here to be so alive and full of enthusiasm, 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", he said. "She continues to proclaim that the time of hope has come, and she 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 Pope also expressed his joy at having "known a courageous people determined to begin again. Despite the problems and obstacles, the people of Angola intend to build their future by travelling along paths of forgiveness, justice and solidarity".
He also launched an appeal "that the just realisation of the fundamental aspirations of the most needy peoples should be the principal concern of those in public office, since their intention - I am sure - is to carry out the mission they have received not for themselves but for the sake of the common good. Our hearts cannot find peace while there are still brothers and sisters who suffer for lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods. If we are to offer a definite response to these fellow human beings, the first challenge to be overcome is that of building solidarity: solidarity between generations, solidarity between nations and between continents, which should lead to an ever more equitable sharing of the earth's resources among all people".
From the African continent "where the incarnate Word in person found refuge. I ask God to grant His protection and assistance to the countless refugees who have fled their country, and are now at large, waiting to be able to return home. ... God loves you like sons and daughters; He watches over your days and your nights, your labours and your aspirations.
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, friends from Africa, dear Angolans, take heart!" he added. "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 rancour over fraternal love. This is all possible if you recognise one another as children of the same Father, the one Father in heaven".