Africa prepares to welcome Pope Benedict

 Final preparations were underway last night in Cameroon and Angola for Pope Benedict's visit which starts today.

Speaking to pilgrims before the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Benedict said he hopes to "embrace the whole African continent: its thousands of differences and profound religious soul; its ancient cultures and its toilsome road to development and reconciliation; its grave problems, its painful wounds and its enormous possibilities and hopes. I intend to confirm the African Catholics in faith, to encourage the Christians in their ecumenical commitment, and bring to all the announcement of peace that the Risen Lord has entrusted to his Church."

Yaounde's archbishop, Victor Tonye Bakot, said the Pope's visit to Cameroon comes with a message for the entire continent. "You know that there are too many wars and misery in Africa. The Pope is coming to explain to us how we can live together in this pastoral and spiritual visit. He is coming to encourage us all to continue praying and deepen our faith."

Pope Benedict is expected to meet with Muslim representatives, bishops, health workers and women's advocacy groups during his time in Cameroon
and Angola. He also will meet with political leaders in the two countries, both accused of corrupt use of oil revenues that enrich a small elite while most of their people are impoverished.

Muslims who are scheduled to meet the Pope in Cameroon were enthusiastic about his visit. One Imam, Sheik Ibrahim Moussa said: "For us Muslims, the coming of the Pope to Cameroon is a blessing. We cohabit peacefully with Catholic faithful. That apart, we pray to the same God. So Muslims are also very happy to receive the Pope here in our country."

Angolan Bishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda said: "All Angola is joyfully awaiting the Holy Father's visit. One can especially perceive the fervor with which the Church, in its many expressions, is preparing for the arrival of Benedict XVI. Everyone from Bishops and priests, religious, to missionaries, catechists, youth...are all working for the success of this visit."

He said: "The visit of Benedict XVI should be a celebration for everyone. We want to receive the Holy Father, making him feel the warmth of the Angolan people, receiving him in the celebrative tradition of Angola. In addition, we anxiously await the Holy Father's words of peace and reconciliation, in a country that is still suffering from the wounds of the civil war. We are in need of his spiritual consolation, of his moral indications on justice, peace, quest for the common good, on civil and spiritual progress."

Source: Fides/VIS

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