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One million faithful flock to papal Mass
Pope Benedict XVI waves from his popemobile to people gathered for an outdoor Mass at Cimangola esplanade in Luanda, Angola, on Sunday
POPEBENEDICTXVI urged Africans to embrace the Gospel and disperse the “clouds of evil” that have brought war, ethnic rivalry, tribalism and greed to the continent at a Mass for up to a million Angolans on Sunday. In a country devastated by 27 years of civil war the Pope quoted the biblical admonition that war can “destroy everything of value”. He said: “This experience is all too familiar to Africa as a whole: the destructive power of civil strife, the descent into a maelstrom of hatred and
revenge, the squandering of the efforts of generations of good people.” The Mass, celebrated on a vast esplanade in an industrial suburb of Luanda, was the liturgical highlight of his stay in Angola and drew the biggest crowd of his week-long visit to Africa. Some had spent the night at the site to guarantee a good seat. The Pope sat beneath a curved corrugated roof that protected him from the hot sun, frequently wiping perspiration from his face with a handkerchief. Many worshippers shielded themselves with umbrellas. The Mass included prayers in six na
tive languages of Angola, a former Portuguese colony evangelised more than 500 years ago. Unlike an open-air liturgy which he celebrated in Cameroon earlier in the week, which featured rousing African song and dance, this one had a quieter tone. The Offertory was the most typically “African moment”, as men and women carried fruit, vegetables, bread and a live goat to the foot of the altar and swayed to a lilting tune played on an electric guitar. Nearing the end of his week-long African journey the Pope looked and sounded in good form as he read his
homily in Portuguese and English. He said he had come to Africa to preach a message of forgiveness, hope and new life in Christ. He praised Angola for embarking on the path of national reconciliation, but said true reconciliation “can only be the fruit of conversion, a change of heart, a new way of thinking”. The task facing the Church in Angola, he said, is to become itself a place of unity and communion in order to bring to others “the healing touch of God’s merciful love”. “How much darkness there is in so many parts of our world! Tragically, the
CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters
clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola,” he said. “We think of the evil of war, the murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts men’s hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society –a society truly and authentically African in its genius and values,” he said. He spoke of an “insidious spirit of selfishness” that leads to hedonism, drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of marriage and “the pres
sure to destroy innocent human life through abortion”. Against these dangers the Church preaches a message of “unbounded hope”, he said, knowing that reconciliation begins in the human heart and with small acts of kindness. After the Mass the Pope recited the Angelus and prayed for the end of hostilities in the Great Lakes region. On his flight home on Monday the Pope said he had been impressed by Africa’s “exuberant joy” and by its strong sense of the sacred.
The Pope in Africa: Page 4-6 Leading article: Page 13
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Harvard expert endorses Pope on condoms and African Aids crisis
POPE BENEDICT XVI has received an endorsement by one of the world’s leading experts on Aids over his remarks that flooding Africa with condoms risked “aggravating” the spread of the disease. Dr Edward Green, a medical anthropologist with more than 30 years of experience fighting diseases in African countries, said the “best” evidence showed that widespread availability of condoms led to higher rather than lower rates
of HIV infection. “The Pope is correct,” said Dr Green, director of the Aids Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies, one of the world’s foremost Aids research institutes. “The best evidence we have supports the Pope’s comments,” he said. “We just cannot find an association between more condom use and lower HIV reduction rates.” On the contrary, he said, there was a “consistent associ
ation shown by our best studies, including the US-funded Demographic Health Surveys, between greater availability and use of condoms and higher HIV-infection rates”. Dr Green said: “This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction technology such as condoms, one often loses the benefit by compensating or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”
Dr Green added: “The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behaviour change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates.” Pope Benedict sparked outrage in the western media last week when, travelling by plane to Africa, he told reporters that condoms exacerbated the Aids pandemic.
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Poet laureate nearly became a Catholic
Pope leaves tortoise at Angolan embassy
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ANDREWMOTION , the poet laureate, has revealed that he seriously considered becoming a Catholic but ultimately found Church doctrine “too fruity”. He said that Catholicism involved having to “believe too much, too much of the stuff that I can’t believe”. But he added: “There’s definitely a hole that is Godshaped in my life, no question
–and perhaps one day it’ll get filled.” Mr Motion, 56, will step down as poet laureate in May after 10 years in the post. He was appointed in 1999 and stipulated at the time that he would only hold the job for a decade. In an interview with the Guardian he said: “I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad I’m giving it up.” He was raised in Stinsted, near Braintree in Essex, and studied English literature at Oxford in the Seventies. His 1994 biography of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread prize for biography.
POPEBENEDICTXVI and his aides have decided to leave a tortoise given as a gift by Pygmies in its native Africa. Last Friday Pygmies from the Baka ethnic group met the Pope outside the apostolic nunciature in Yaoundé, Cameroon. They gave him a basket, a cloth mat and the tortoise, which is a symbol of wisdom in Cameroon. Originally there was talk of the brown, eightinch-long
tortoise residing in the Vatican gardens, but in the end officials asked staff at the nunciature in Angola to find it a proper home, according to Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi. He told reporters that the tortoise was “in good hands” and would be better off at the nunciature because Africa is its natural habitat. The tortoise had caused considerable excitement among reporters on the papal plane.
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