Benedict XVI Reflects on Africa Trip
Says He Was Impressed by Joy, Devotion
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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The joy of the African peoples, combined with their spirit of recollection and sense of the sacred, were two aspects of the continent that impressed Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father said he was impressed, on one hand, by "the almost exuberant cordiality, the joy of a festive Africa, which it seems to me saw in hope, lets say, the personification of the fact that we are the children and family of God."
"This family exists and we, with all our limitations, are in that family and God is with us. So the Pope's presence has helped to feel this," he added.
"On the other hand," continued the Holy Father, "I was very impressed by the spirit of recollection in the liturgies, the strong sense of the sacred: In the liturgies there is no group representation or personal leadership, but the presence of the sacred, of God himself. Their movements were also movements of respect and awareness of the divine presence."
Benedict XVI expressed his profound sorrow over the death of two girls trampled by the crowd, which also left some 90 wounded, in the incident that took place outside Luanda's Coqueiros Stadium, where soon afterward the meeting with young Congolese was to be held.
"I have prayed, and pray for them," said the Pontiff.
The Holy Father also recalled the meeting Thursday with the sick in Yaoundé's Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger Center, a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities, founded in 1972 by the Canadian cardinal after whom it is named.
"It touched my heart to see here the world of the many sufferings, of all suffering, the sadness, the poverty of human existence, but also to see how the state and Church collaborate to help those who suffer," commented the Pope.
"And one sees, it seems to me, that when a man helps one who suffers he is more of a man, the world becomes more human: This is engraved in my memory," he added.
Benedict XVI traveled to Africa to personally present to the presidents of the 42 episcopal conferences on the continent the "instrumentum laboris" (working document) for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, which will be held Oct. 4-25 in Rome.