Pope to visit Cameroon and Angola

 Pope Benedict plans to visit Cameroon and Angola next March. He made the announcement at the Mass on Sunday marking the end of the Synod of Bishops.

In his homily, the Pope highlighted the importance of listening to the Word and incarnating it in individual and community life.

"In this Eucharistic celebration, which closes the work of the Synod", he said "we are particularly aware of the bond that exists between loving reception of the Word of God and disinterested service towards our fellow man. How many times, in the past days, have we heard experiences and reflections which highlight the contemporary need to listen to God more intimately, to gain a truer knowledge of His Word of Salvation, a more sincere sharing of faith which is constantly nourished at the table of the Divine Word".

After thanking the participants, Benedict XVI spoke about the bishops of China, who were unable to attend the assembly. "I would like to thank God for their love for Christ, their communion with the universal Church and their faithfulness to the Successor of the Apostle Peter. They are present in our prayers, as are all the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care. We ask the 'Chief Shepherd' to give them apostolic joy, strength, and zeal to guide, with wisdom and far-sightedness, the Catholic community of China so dear to us all".

The Pope went on: "All of us who have taken part in the work of the Synod will carry with us the renewed knowledge that the Church's principal task, at the start of this new millennium, is above all to nourish herself on the Word of God in order to make new evangelisation more effective. What is needed now is that this ecclesial experience be brought to every community. We have to understand the necessity of translating the Word we have heard into gestures of love, because this is the only way to make the announcement of the Gospel credible, despite the human weaknesses that mark individuals. What this requires first of all is a more intimate knowledge of Christ and meek acceptance of His Word.

"In this Pauline year, making our own the words of the Apostle ('Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel'), I hope with all my heart that in every community this yearning of Paul's will be felt with ever more conviction, as a vocation in the service of the Gospel for the world. ... So many people are searching, sometimes unwittingly, for the meeting with Christ and His Gospel; so many need to find a meaning to their lives in Him.

After highlighting the fact that "often the encounter with Scriptures is in danger of not being a 'Church event', but remains exposed to subjectivity and arbitrariness", the Pope noted the importance of a "robust and credible pastoral promotion of the knowledge of Holy Scripture, in order to announce, celebrate and live the Word in Christian communities, establishing a dialogue with the cultures of our time, placing ourselves at the service of truth and not of current ideologies, and increasing the dialogue that God wishes to have with all mankind". To this end, "special care should be paid to the preparation of pastors", and "ongoing efforts to give life to the biblical movement among lay people should be encouraged, along with the formation of group animators. ... We must also support efforts to transmit the faith through the Word of God to those who are 'far away', especially to those who are sincerely looking to give meaning to their lives", he said.

"The privileged place where the Word of God resounds, the Word that builds the Church, is undoubtedly the liturgy. It is clear from the liturgy that the Bible is a book of a people and for a people. ... There is, therefore, a mutual relationship, a living bond, between the people and the Book. The Bible remains alive with the people who read it. The people cannot exist without the Book, because it is in it that they find their reason for living, their vocation and their identity. This mutual bond between people and Holy Scripture is celebrated at every liturgical gathering".

Benedict XVI ended his homily by entrusting to the protection of the Virgin Mary the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held in Rome in October of next year.

He also announced his intention to travel to Cameroon in March 2009 to entrust the working document for that Synod to representatives of the episcopal conferences of Africa. "From there", he concluded, "God willing, I will go on to Angola to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the evangelisation of that country".

Source: VIS

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