.- One million people gathered in Luanda, Angola on Sunday morning for the opportunity to see Pope Benedict XVI. In his message, the Holy Father spoke of the need for prayer to obtain peace because only the light of God can overcome the great "darkness" cast by war and greed.
Beginning his speech, the Holy Father noted that the vivid description of âthe destruction and ruin caused by warâ in todayâs readings, âechoes the personal experience of so many people in this country amid the terrible ravages of the civil war.â He added: âHow true it is that war can 'destroy everything of value:' families, whole communities, the fruit of menâs labor, the hopes which guide and sustain their lives and work!â
âThis experience,â the Pontiff expounded, âis 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.â He continued, âWhen Godâs word, a word meant to build up individuals, communities and the whole human family, is neglected, and when Godâs law is 'ridiculed, despised, laughed at,' the result can only be destruction and injustice: the abasement of our common humanity and the betrayal of our vocation to be sons and daughters of a merciful Father, brothers and sisters of his beloved Son."
âTragically,â he continued, âthe clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola.â
Benedict XVI went on to explain that we can easily think of the evils of war on a large scale: âthe murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts menâs hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society,â however we donât think of that âinsidious spirit of selfishness which closes individuals in upon themselves, breaks up families, and, by supplanting the great ideals of generosity and self-sacrifice, inevitably leads to hedonism, the escape into false utopias through drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of the marriage bond and the break-up of families, and the pressure to destroy innocent human life through abortion.â
We need God and his commandments, ânot as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good.â He added: âGod created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us!"
Turning to address the young people in the audience, he emphasized the importance of growing in a friendship with Christ and spreading the âGood Newsâ among others. He urged them: âSeek his will for you by listening to his word daily, and by allowing his law to shape your lives and your relationships.â
âIn this way you will become wise and generous prophets of Godâs saving love,â he continued. âBecome evangelizers of your own peers, leading them by your own example to an appreciation of the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and the hope of a future shaped by the values of Godâs Kingdom.â
âThe Church needs your witness!â Pope Benedict concluded. âDo not be afraid to respond generously to Godâs call, whether it be to serve him as a priest or a religious, as a Christian parent, or in the many forms of service to others which the Church sets before you."