Aide Laments Death of Stampede Victims

Vatican Spokesman Reflects on Tragedy at Angolan Stadium

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The two young women who died in a stampede before a meeting with youth in Luanda, Angola, last week are intercessors for the Church in Africa, says a Vatican spokesman.



During his weekly commentary on the Vatican television program "Octava Dies," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, called the deaths "violent and unexpected."

Celine, 22, and Anna, 21, died March 21 as thousands of young people rushed the gates to enter the Dos Coqueiros Stadium hours before Benedict XVI was to address a gathering of youth. At least eight others were injured.

"We admired the smiling faces of so many festive young women lining the streets of Luanda on those days! Certainly they were among them," the spokesman reflected.

"[Celine], who was a catechist, [Anna], who was a member of a vocational group, ended their earthly journey of faith and commitment in a violent and unexpected way, but they will accompany their friends, the African youth who are thirsting for hope, in a new way," Father Lombardi continued.

He explained: "The hundreds, the thousands of scouts, young men and young women, who gave themselves generously for the success of the Pope's visit, the young women of the Catholic movements, aware of their central role in the life of the Church and African society, the catechists, and many other dedicated youth like them, are truly the concrete signs of that hope of Africa and for Africa of which the Pope spoke many times in Cameroon and Angola.
 
"We can and we must count on these forces to make the Church in Africa able to serve reconciliation, justice and peace, not in words but in deeds. To reopen the ways of the future to a martyred continent, what is more necessary than a youth that knows how to believe, love and hope?"

Father Lombardi said the Church will not forget the two youth: "Continue to accompany us like angels along the road of Africa's future!"