Archive of November 18, 2011

Imprisoned Pakistan Christians facing discrimination

Faisalabad, Pakistan, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA) - Pakistan’s Christians face a “particularly perilous” situation in prisons and suffer severe discrimination, a local Catholic lawyer says.

Moazzam Aslam Bhatti, who works in Faisalabad, said that Christian prisoners are disadvantaged in the distribution of food, clothing and medicine as well as in their ability to practice their religion.

“This situation must change,” he told Aid to the Church in Need.

Most Christians who face charges cannot secure lawyers because of their poverty and low social position. Increased legal need is necessary to improve the situation.

“It is alarming to note that many people jailed for minor offenses could have been released if they had been able to pay the fines imposed on them,” he added. “Those affected also include children who are compelled to stay in prison together with their mothers.”

Bhatti regularly visits Christian prisoners in Faisalabad along with the Dominican Fathers. He also provides legal aid.

Dominican Father Iftikhar Moon, who heads pastoral care for prisoners in the Diocese of Faisalabad, said that there are about 5,000 prisoners in the city. About 85 to 100 of them are Christians.

The prisoners include shopkeeper Imran Masih, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2010 under the country’s blasphemy laws for allegedly burning pages of the Quran. He denies the charges.

Bhatti studied in England before returning to Pakistan to work with the disadvantaged.

“Despite receiving good job offers abroad, I returned to Pakistan in order to do whatever is in my power to help the people,” he said. “I am proud to be able to do something for the people in this part of the world where Christians are oppressed and pushed to the margins.”

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New York's high rate of disabled deaths prompts outcry

New York City, N.Y., Nov 18, 2011 (CNA) - Reports that one in six disabled persons in New York over the last decade have died from preventable causes has drawn sharp criticism from local media and disability advocates.

“We are devaluing these people,” Bobby Schindler of the Life and Hope Network told CNA, and “we are seeing” this kind of treatment “rationalized and justified everyday.”

The New York Times outlined death reports on Nov. 5 of developmentally disabled persons throughout the last 10 years. The newspaper found that those receiving care in New York died from unnatural causes at what appears to be an unusually high rate.

One in six deaths, around 1,200 total, within state and privately run homes were blamed on unnatural or unknown causes. These numbers compare with one in 25 in Massachusetts and Connecticut which are two of the few states that track similar data.

The New York case files suggest that the deaths were caused by neglect and could have been easily prevented, as they involved scenarios of disabled persons drowning, choking on food or falling down stairs.

The paper profiled a story of 41-year-old James Michael Taylor, whose evening bath in 2005 “became a death sentence” when a caretaker placed him in a tub, turned on the water and left the room.

Taylor, a quadriplegic who had the ability of a newborn to lift his head, slowly drowned in the next 15 minutes as the water rose over his body. 

Editors from Albany's Times Union newspaper called the situation a “disgrace,” especially given that the state spends $10 billion a year in attempt to take care of the developmentally disabled. 

“New York should be doing more than just starting to catch up to other states,” the editors said in a Nov. 9 blog post. “Its system should be a national model.”

In an interview with CNA, Bobby Schindler—whose sister Terri Schiavo died of starvation in 2005 after her husband won the right in court to remove her feeding tube—said that the figures reflect society's growing callousness toward the disability community.

“It's always really disturbed and troubled me that because a person's physical appearance changes, because a person isn't able to do all the things an able bodied person can do, somehow their life is devalued,” he said.

“We saw this in Terri's case,” Schindler added. “She was simply a woman with a disability and something that would have been thought of as barbaric not even that long ago happens every day and is ordinary today, sadly enough.”

Schindler founded the Life and Hope Network soon after Schiavo's death, which has given legal help over the last several years to more than 1,000 families of disabled persons facing similar issues.

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Canon expert criticizes Colombian priest's abortion support

Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA) - The tribunal judge of the Archdiocese of Lima, Peru, Father Luis Gaspar, recently criticized Colombian priest Fr. Carlos Novoa's statements justifying abortion.

He called on Fr. Novoa to live and think like a Catholic minister, because “you cannot serve God and the devil.”
Fr. Gaspar’s comments came in response to the Colombian priest’s arguments in support of the legalization of abortion using passages from John Paul II’s encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae.”
In statements to CNA, Fr. Gaspar denounced Fr. Novoa’s claim that “as a priest” one could not support the ruling by Colombia’s constitutional court that legalized abortion in three cases, but that “as a citizen” the ruling is “acceptable.”
“How can a brother in the priestly ministry make such an impossible distinction?” asked Fr. Gaspar. “ He says: ‘As a priest … but as a citizen ...’ No Catholic priest should act, think or live in any other way except as a Catholic priest.  Either the priestly ministry imbues his entire being, or in some way he is being unfaithful to the ministry he has received. 

“God forbid I should ever talk to anyone as citizen and not as a priest,” Fr. Gaspar continued.
He noted that the Church’s teaching on abortion as outlined in paragraphs 2270-2273 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church remains unchanged and is permanent. Likewise, he added, the Code of Canon Law stipulates that the penalty for procuring an abortion is automatic excommunication.
In the specific case of Fr. Novoa, he added, “the competent ecclesiastical authority should intervene. First the Superior General of the Jesuits in Colombia and the bishop of the diocese in which this priest carries out his priestly ministry.”
“When a religious ‘causes grave scandal by obstinately defending or spreading teachings condemned by the Magisterium of the Church,’ the canonical penalties could include expulsion from his religious congregation, removal of faculties for hearing confessions and of the canonical mandate needed for teaching at a Catholic university,”  Fr. Gaspar warned.

The director of the Latin American office of the Population Research Institute, Carlos Polo, also criticized Fr. Novoa's comments. “The only thing that will result from the legalization of abortion is the death of more children and more abuse of distressed women, who suffer irreparable harm from abortion,” he said.

Polo added that Fr. Novoa “should be quiet and leave those who deal with women who are suffering alone.”

“A woman who has an unexpected pregnancy and is in need of support and affection,” he said.

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Report suggests US funds illegally promoted abortion in Kenya

Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2011 (CNA) - An investigation into U.S. funds given to Kenya during the country's 2010 constitutional referendum suggests that the Obama administration gave $400,000 to an organization that promoted increased abortion access in the country.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, said that the report “raises red flags” about the use of U.S. taxpayer money in foreign countries.

Rep. Smith argued that “at a minimum the Obama Administration ignored” the Siljander Amendment, an annually renewed law that prohibits U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to lobby for or against abortion in other countries.

An investigation into the use of U.S. taxpayer money in Kenya surrounding the constitutional referendum was requested in May 2010 by Smith, as well as by Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress that works to improve the accountability of the federal government, conducted the investigation and released a report on Nov. 14 detailing its findings.

The report indicated that the U.S. Agency for International Development gave $400,000 to the International Development Law Organization to offer analyses to aid those working to draft and finalize Kenya's new constitution.

According to the report, the International Development Law Organization gave “advice on the issues of fetal rights and abortion, though the draft had not mentioned either issue” at that point.

The organization suggested that the Committee of Experts – those charged with drafting the constitution –  “consider adding language to make clear that the fetus lacks constitutional standing, and that the rights of women under these articles therefore take priority.”

The organization also gave examples of countries in which acknowledging a fetal right to life has posed an obstacle to abortion access. It suggested that Kenya may wish to take measures to protect “the legal right of access to abortion.”

One way to do so, it said, would be to clarify in the constitution that “a person is a human being who has been born.”

Congressman Smith criticized the Obama administration’s decision to fund the International Development Law Organization.

“If this isn’t lobbying, what is?” he asked, noting that the organization continues to receive American taxpayer money to help create laws to implement the constitution.

Smith acknowledged the importance of political reform in Kenya, where approximately 1,300 people were killed and tens of thousands more displaced in violent clashes surrounding the country’s 2007 elections.

“However, this needed reform should not be used by pro-abortion groups funded by the Obama Administration to rewrite the pro-life laws of Kenya,” he said.

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Cardinal Arinze predicts lasting legacy for Pope's Benin trip

Vatican City, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze says Pope Benedict’s upcoming visit to Benin will leave behind a positive and lasting legacy for all Africans.

“Catholics, other Christians in Africa and, indeed, those who are not Christian are all concerned in this visit,” the cardinal told Vatican Radio on Nov. 17.

Cardinal Arinze, 79, will accompany Pope Benedict on his three day visit to the small West African state which starts tomorrow. The Cardinal served as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship until 2008 when he retired.

The primary reason for the Pope’s visit is to allow the pontiff to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation from 2009's synod of African bishops in Rome. The document—which is the Pope’s own response to that meeting—aims to help chart a path for the future of the Church in Africa. 

Cardinal Arinze explained that the topic of that synod in 2009 was the Church in Africa “in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace” and noted that “this concerns all of us all...these go beyond religious frontiers.”

He hopes that many Africans will read the exhortation since “in these days of modern especially the computer—it is not difficult to download the full document so that it can be studied carefully by individuals and groups.”

Cardinal Arinze added that he wants journalists, academics, teachers, politicians and other societal leaders to “dissect it, digest it, study it and ask themselves what action this document asks us to take to promote reconciliation, justice and peace in our continent?”

Benin’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Theodore Loko, echoed the cardinal's hopes and told Vatican Radio that the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation was “very important because when we look at the topics it deals with they are the important problems in Africa.”

He predicted that if Africans “pay attention to these topics and the speeches of the Pope,” over the next three days then the whole continent will “gain a lot,” as it attempts to “address the problems we have in Africa—and God knows we’ve got a lot,” he said. 

During his three day visit, Pope Benedict will also mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first  Catholic missionaries to Benin and will pay a visit to the tomb of his late friend, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, who died in 2008. The two worked together in the Roman curia for over 25 years.

Ambassador Loko recalled how Pope Benedict had once described Cardinal Gantin to him as “an African who gave much to the world.”

Cardinal Gantin is “a son of Benin who can be called today the first ambassador of Benin because through him many people know about Benin,” said the ambassador, adding that “among the people of Benin he is seen as a model of service.” 

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Diocese of Orange wins bidding war for Crystal Cathedral

Orange, Calif., Nov 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - A bankruptcy judge on Nov. 17 ruled in favor of the Diocese of Orange's $57.5 million offer for the iconic Crystal Cathedral over a bid from Chapman University.

Bishop Tod D. Brown vowed on Thursday that the diocese will “protect this wonderful structure as a place of worship and will soon provide our Catholic community with a new cathedral, pastoral center, parish school and more.”

The Crystal Cathedral will meet the needs of the 1.2 million Catholics in Orange County, the 10th largest diocese in the nation.

Judge Robert Kwan made his ruling at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 after a grueling, week-long case that ultimately disappointed Chapman University which aimed to buy the property as a satellite campus.

Bishop Brown expressed sympathy for cathedral founder pastor Robert H. Schuller who filed for bankruptcy last October, after creditors sued for payment.

“We sincerely regret the difficult circumstances Dr. Schuller and his ministry have encountered,” the bishop noted. “Despite these wonderful results, we are nonetheless saddened by the events that led us to today’s award and offer our respect to Dr. Schuller and his ministry.”

Under the terms of agreement, the bishop said that occupancy of the building “will not be immediate” and that the Crystal Cathedral Ministries can continue to use the church and other campus structures for a period of up to three years.

“During the same period a diocesan pastoral center will be established on the Garden Grove campus and nearby parish school and church eventually transferred to the new location,” he explained.

Since July, the diocese had upped its bid from from $50 million to $53.6 million and finally $57.5 million on Nov. 14.

Although it has been planning for over 10 years to build a new, 2,500-seat cathedral in Santa Ana, the diocese had only hired an architect for the project and began to consider converting the bankrupt church into a Catholic cathedral.

Purchasing the Crystal Cathedral was an attractive option for the diocese because it provides an instant solution to its building needs and would cost roughly half the $100 million price tag for the planned Santa Ana cathedral.

The liturgist for the Orange diocese, Monsignor Arthur Holquin, said July 26 that several changes will need to take place in order for the Crystal Cathedral to become a Catholic worship space.

Along with a central altar, a tabernacle and a baptismal font, the building would need a “cathedra” or bishop’s chair. While renovations are needed to the building, “not much deconstruction would be required and the iconic personality of the original architecture and design would, for the most part, be retained,” he said.

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Vatican publishes book on Latin America's zeal for Gospel

Vatican City, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA) -

The Vatican Publishing House released a book by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on religious fervor in the continent and how it has contributed to the spread of the Gospel.

“Blessed John Paul II learned to appreciate and encourage this popular piety of Latin America very positively, especially during all of his untiring pilgrimages to the Marian shrines of all the countries of Latin America, which are the true spiritual capitals of those nations,” Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the commission, said on Nov. 17.

The new book is titled “Popular Piety in the Evangelization Process of Latin America,” and contains information from the commission's recent plenary meeting at the Vatican in April of this year.

It also has a discourse by Pope Benedict XVI on the topic of evangelization in Latin American as well as statements and addresses from members and advisers of the commission, pastoral recommendations and other documents.

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Spanish diocese petitions for 2015 to be year of St. Teresa

Avila, Spain, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - The Diocese of Avila in Spain has begun collecting signatures for a petition declaring 2015, the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Jesus' birth, as a “Year of Prayer.”

St. Teresa was a “master of prayer” who “left the testimony of her personal experience of prayer in her writings,” said campaign organizers.

Local Church leaders expressed hope that Pope Benedict will declare 2015 as a “Year of Prayer” and make St. Teresa the patroness for the celebration.

The campaign is being organized by the Carmelite Fathers, with the support of Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila, who has written to all the pastors of the diocese inviting them to participate.

Signatures are being collected at parishes, religious communities and at the diocesan chancery. They will be sent along with a special letter to Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

“In time, St. Teresa became a master of prayer, not only for her spiritual sons and daughters, but for the entire Church,” organizers said.

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Pope arrives in Benin to help chart future of Church in Africa

Cotonou, Benin, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Benin at the beginning of a three-day trip where he will unveil his blueprint on the future of the Church in Africa entitled “Africae Munus.”

“May this document fall into the ground and take root, grow and bear much fruit 'in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty,' as Christ himself said,” declared Pope Benedict upon his arrival to the small West African country.

The Pope was met at Cardinal Bernardin Gantin Airport in Cotonou by President Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin and Archbishop Antoine Ganye of Cotonou.

They were accompanied by colorful groups of local women who danced and sang as the Pope stepped off his chartered Alitalia flight. Many of the woman waved scarves and umbrellas bearing the Pope’s image.

The Pope explained that his visit marked the 40th anniversary of the Holy See establishing diplomatic relations with Benin and the 150th year since the first Catholic missionaries arrived in the country.

Additionally, however, he said he had another “more personal and more emotive,” reason for visiting Benin as he has long desired to pray at the tomb of the late Cardinal Bernadin Gantin. The two men worked together over many years in the Roman curia.

“We both happily assisted my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, in the exercise of his Petrine ministry.  We had many occasions to meet, to engage in profound discussions and to pray together,” the Pope said. 

“Cardinal Gantin won the respect and the affection of many. So it seemed right that I should come to his country of origin, to pray before his tomb, and to thank Benin for having given the Church such a distinguished son.”

Outlining the challenges facing present day Benin, the Pope recognized it as a “country of ancient and noble traditions,” where there is also a “delicate transition currently under way from tradition to modernity.” 

This transition, however, “need not provoke fear, but neither can it be constructed by neglecting the past.” Instead, “it needs to be accompanied by prudence for the good of all in order to avoid the pitfalls which exist on the African continent and elsewhere.”

He then listed these pitfalls as an “unconditional surrender to the law of the market or that of finance, nationalism or exaggerated and sterile tribalism which can become destructive, a politicization of inter-religious tensions to the detriment of the common good, or finally the erosion of human, cultural, ethical and religious values.”

Above all, the transition to modernity must be “rooted in the dignity of the person, the importance of the family and respect for life,” he said. 

With temperatures reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the papal entourage opted to don white rather than black cassocks.

They listened as the Pope explained how the Catholic Church “offers her own specific contribution,” to Benin’s process of modernization through “her presence, her prayer and her various works of mercy, especially in education and health care.” 

The Catholic Church in Benin has been growing rapidly in recent decades with Catholics now making up three million of the country’s 8.8 million population.

The Church, he said, wants the people Benin to realize that “God is neither absent nor irrelevant as some would have us believe but that He is the friend of man. It is in this spirit of friendship and of fraternity that I come to your country.”

Pope Benedict then departed from the airport in a pope-mobile which was surrounded by enthusiastic crowds who ran and danced alongside the vehicle as it made its way through the streets of Cotonou.

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Pope urges people of Benin to seek Jesus through Mary

Cotonou, Benin, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI urged the people of Benin to seek Jesus Christ through the intercession and example of his mother Mary.

“She shows us, with simplicity and with a mother’s heart, the one Light and Truth: her Son, Jesus Christ who leads humanity to its full realization in the Father,” said the Pope in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mercy in Benin’s largest city of Cotonou Nov. 18.

“Let us not be afraid to invoke, with confidence, her who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces.”

The cathedral visit was the Pope’s first stop after touching down in Benin. After arriving at the packed church, he prayed at the tombs of two previous bishops of Cotonou—Archbishop Christoph Adimou and Archbishop Isidore de Sousa.

He described them both as “heroic workers in the vineyard of the Lord,” and gave particular mention to Archbishop de Souza’s “decisive role” in helping the country’s transition from communism to democracy in 1991.

The Pope explained that often in the “salvation history” of both individuals and nations, “divine mercy” consists “not only in the remission of our sins” but also “the fact that God, our Father, redirects us, sometimes not without pain, affliction or fear on our part, to the path of truth and light, for he does not wish us to be lost.”

The model of how to respond to “the mystery of divine love,” he said, was the Virgin Mary since “by her yes to the call of God, she contributed to the manifestation of divine love in the midst of humanity.”

Thus, “she is the Mother of Mercy by her participation in the mission of her Son: she has received the privilege of being our helper always and everywhere.”

“Under the shelter of her mercy, deadened hearts are healed, the snares of the devil are thwarted and enemies are reconciled,” he said, adding that “in  Mary, we have not only a model of perfection, but also one who helps us to realize communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.”

As “Mother of Mercy,” she is “a sure guide to the disciples of her son who wish to be of service to justice, to reconciliation and to peace.” Christians should “not be afraid to invoke, with confidence, her who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces.”

The Pope concluded by asking God for the help of “Our Lady of Africa,” that she may “intercede for Africa before your divine Son, and obtain for all of humanity salvation and peace!”

He then imparted his apostolic blessing before leading the congregation in the singing of the Marian anthem, the Salve Regina.

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Benedict XVI addresses the press at 30,000 feet

Cotonou, Benin, Nov 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict gave his customary papal visit press conference on the flight to his three-day trip to Benin on Nov. 18, addressing topics such as the African Church's role in evangelization, peacekeeping efforts on the continent and his friendship with the late Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.

These in-flight briefings give journalists a rare chance to take part in a direct question-and-answer session with the Pope. The questions are submitted beforehand to the Vatican’s head of media, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J.

Pope Benedict was first asked why Benin had been chosen out of all the countries in Africa from where to launch his Post-Apostolic Exhortation on the future of the Church in the continent. 

He replied that Benin was, in many ways, a model African state as it is a country “at peace, external and internal peace,” where “democratic institutions work, in a spirit of freedom and responsibility and thus justice and the common good are possible and guaranteed by a democratic system and a sense of responsibility in freedom.”

He said it is also a country where “the presence of different religions” lived in “peaceful coexistence.” Benin has significant numbers of Christians, Muslims and also those who follow traditional African religions.

“It seems to me that this coexistence of religions and interreligious dialogue as a factor of peace and freedom is an important aspect,” said the Pope, “just as it is an important part of the Apostolic Exhortation.”

His final “personal” reason for choosing Benin was that it is the country of origin of his “dear friend” Cardinal Bernardin Gantin. The two men worked together for many years in the Roman curia where Cardinal Gantin was Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

“I have always wanted to one day be able to pray at his tomb. He really was a great friend of mine,” said Pope Benedict, describing the late Cardinal as “a great representative of Catholic Africa, civilized and human Africa.”

Pope Benedict was then asked about the growth of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Africa sometimes at the expense of Catholicism. 

The Pope said that “these communities are a global phenomenon,” but are particularly prevalent in Latin America and Africa.

He attributed their apparent success to giving “little weight to institutions,” while preaching a message “that’s simple, easy, and understandable, and apparently concrete,” within a “participative liturgy,” that expresses “the sentiments of the local culture.”

On the one hand this brings some success, he said, but it “also implies a lack of stability,” such that some members return to the Catholic Church or quickly move onto another Evangelical or Pentecostal community.
The response of the Catholic Church, he said, should not be to imitate these communities but to ask how “to give new life to the Catholic faith.”

First, this requires a “message that’s simple and understandable, but also profound. It’s important in places like Africa, he said, that Christianity “doesn’t come as a difficult European system,” which cannot be understand or realized but, instead, is “a universal message that God exists, God matters, God knows us and loves us, and that in concrete, religion provokes collaboration and fraternity.”

He said “it is also important that our institutions not be too heavy,” but, instead, apostolic initiatives should stem from “the community and the person.”

As for the form of worship, the Pope said that while a “participative liturgy is important,” it should also be “one that’s not sentimental.”

“Worship must not be simply an expression of sentiments, but raise up the presence and the mystery of God into which he enter and by which we allow ourselves to be formed.”

As for the notion of “inculturation”—the marrying of Christianity with elements of local culture—the Pope warned that the Church “mustn’t lose this grand thing that is Catholicity,” which recognizes that “in all parts of the world we are brothers and sisters, we are one family, where we know each other and collaborate in a spirit of fraternity.”

Pope Benedict was then asked about the responsibility that lies with the political class in Africa to help reverse the fortunes of the continent.

The Pope recognized that there has often been a mismatch between “the words, the desires and good intentions” of African leaders and “what’s been accomplished,” by them.

Hinting at a history of corruption among African elites, he explained that the “human person, after original sin, wants to possess himself—to have life, not to give life. I want to keep whatever I have.”

With this mentality, however, “things don’t work,” as “it’s only with love, and the awareness of a God who loves us and gives to us, that we can arrive at a capacity to give ourselves away.”

Pope Benedict was next asked about his reference at the 2009 Synod of African Bishops in Rome to Africa being a “great spiritual lung for a humanity experiencing a crisis of faith and hope.”

In response he noted that while African society had faced “great problems and difficulties,” over the past 50 to 60 years there was still “a freshness, a ‘yes’ to life, in Africa, a youthfulness that’s full of enthusiasm and hope.”

“There’s a sense of humor, a joy,” he said, that “shows a freshness, too, in the religious sense.” African society, he said, still has “a metaphysical perception of reality, meaning reality in its totality with God,” which gives it a “fresh humanism,” in its “young soul,” despite its problems.   

He compared this African mentality to that of the more prosperous West which is often gripped, he said, by “a rigid positivism, that restricts our life and makes it a little arid, and also turns off hope.”

“If I think about my youth, it was a completely different world than that of today, so much so that I sometimes think I’m living on a different planet from when I was a young man!”

Finally, Pope Benedict was asked to reflect further upon his friendship with the late Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.

He explained that he first saw Cardinal Gantin at his installation as Archbishop of Munich in 1976. “On that important day of my episcopal ordination, it was beautiful for me to meet this young African bishop full of faith, full of joy and courage.”

During their years together in Rome, the Pope said he always marveled at Cardinal Gantin’s “deep and practical intelligence, his sense of discernment, to not trip over beautiful ideological phrases but to grasp what’s essential and what doesn’t make sense,” as well as his “beautiful” sense of humor and life of “deep faith and prayer.”

“All this made Cardinal Gantin not just a friend, but an example. He was a great African Catholic bishop, and I’m truly happy now that I’m able to pray at his tomb and to feel his closeness, his great faith, which will always make him an example for me and a friend.”

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