VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At the Angelus today, the third Sunday of Lent, Benedict XVI dedicated his reflections to his imminent trip to Africa. The Pope, who will visit Cameroon and Angola from 17 to 23 March, told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square that in Cameroon he will deliver the "Instrumentum laboris" of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held in the Vatican in October, before going on to Angola, "a country that, following a long civil war, has rediscovered peace and is now called to rebuild itself in justice.
"With this visit", he added, "my aim is to embrace the entire African continent: its thousand facets and its profound religious soul; its ancient cultures and its difficult journey towards development and reconciliation; its serious problems, its painful wounds and its enormous potential and hopes. I intend to confirm Catholics in their faith, to encourage Christians to ecumenical commitment, and to bring to everyone the announcement of peace that the risen Lord entrusted to the Church".
"I leave for Africa with the awareness of having nothing to propose or to give to those I will meet save Christ and the Good News of His cross, the mystery of supreme love, of divine love which overcomes all human resistance and even makes it possible to forgive and love our enemies. This is the grace of the Gospel, capable of transforming the world; this is the grace that can also renew Africa, because it generates an irresistible force for peace and profound and radical reconciliation. The Church, then, does not pursue economic, social or political objectives; the Church announces Christ, certain that the Gospel can touch and transform everyone's heart, renewing people and society from within".The Pope entrusted to St. Joseph - who with Mary was compelled escape to Egypt, in Africa, in order to save the newborn Jesus - all the peoples of the continent "with the challenges that confront them and the hopes that move them. In particular", he concluded, "my thoughts for to the victims of hunger, illness and injustice, of the fratricidal conflicts and of all forms of violence which, unfortunately, continue to strike adults and children, not sparing missionaries, priests, religious and volunteers".