On the Africa Synod

"Be Salt and Light in the Beloved African Land"

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.



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Dear brothers and sisters!

A little while ago, with the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops concluded. Three weeks of prayer and reciprocal listening to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying today to the Church that lives on the African continent, but also to the Universal Church.

The synodal fathers, who have come from every country in Africa, have presented the rich reality of the local Churches. We have shared their joys for the dynamism of the Christian communities that continue to grow in quantity and quality. We are grateful to God for the missionary élan that has found fertile ground in numerous dioceses and that is expressed in the sending of missionaries to other African countries and different continents.

Special importance has been given to the family, that in Africa too is the primary cell of society, but which today is threatened by foreign ideological currents. What to say, then, to young people exposed to this type of pressure, influenced by models of thought and conduct that are contrary to the human and Christian values of the peoples of Africa?

Naturally the current problems of Africa emerged in the assembly and its great need of reconciliation, of justice and of peace. Precisely to this the Church responds re-proposing, with renewed impetus, the proclamation of the Gospel and the action of human promotion. Animated by the Word of God and the Eucharist, she strives make it so that no one is deprived of the necessaries for living and that all may lead an existence worthy of the human being.

Remembering the apostolic trip that I took to Cameroon and Angola last March, and which also had the purpose of advancing the immediate preparation of the Second Synod for Africa, today I would like to turn to all the people of Africa, in particular to those who share the Christian faith, to consign to them in spirit the "Final Message" of this synodal Assembly. It is a message that comes from Rome, the see of the Successor of Peter, who presides over the universal communion, but one can say, in a sense that is no less true, that it has its origin in Africa, whose experiences, expectations, plans, it gathers and now returns to Africa, bearing wealth of an event of profound communion in the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters who listen to me from Africa! I entrust to your prayers in a special way the fruits of the labors of the Synod fathers, and I encourage you with the words of the Lord Jesus: be salt and light in the beloved African land!

As this Synod concludes, I would like now to recall that next year a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. On the occasion of my visit to Cyprus I will have the pleasure to consign the "Instrumentum laboris" of this meeting. I thank the Lord, who never tires in building up his Church in communion, and I invoke with confidence the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I offer a special greeting first of all to the thousands of faithful gathered in Milan, in the Piazza del Duomo, where this morning the liturgy of the beatification of the priest Don Carlo Gnocchi was celebrated. He began as a sound educator of boys and young men. In the 2nd World War he became the chaplain of the Alpini (The mountain infantry of the Italian army), with whom he participated in the tragic retreat in Russia. It was then that he dedicated himself completely to a work of charity. Thus, in Milan during reconstruction, Don Gnocchi worked to "restore the human person," gathering orphaned and mutilated boys and offering them help and formation. He gave all of himself to the very end, and dying gave his corneas to two blind boys. His work continued to develop and today the Don Gnocchi Foundation is on the cutting edge in the care of persons of every age who need rehabilitative therapy. As I greet Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, and I rejoice with the Ambrosian Church, I make the motto of this beatification my own: "Alongside of life, always."

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present today in Saint Peter’s Square. We have just concluded the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops which has been a period of grace. I invite all of you to pray for our brothers and sisters of Africa. May the Lord, who granted sight to the blind man of the Gospel, renew their faith that they may always see and follow clearly the path of reconciliation, justice and peace which leads to salvation. Upon all of you and upon all the people of Africa I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

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