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Pope Benedict praises Church in Africa, departs for Rome

.- Thanking everyone for the efforts made during the course of his African visit, the Holy Father delivered a brief address to some officials and citizens of Angola at a departure ceremony at Luanda’s airport.  The Pope praised of the vibrancy of the Catholic Church on the continent and stressed the need to care for the poor.

"I thank God,” began Pope Benedict, “that I have found the Church here to be so alive and full of enthusiasm, despite the difficulties, able to take up its own cross and that of others, bearing witness before everyone to the saving power of the Gospel message."

"She continues to proclaim that the time of hope has come, and she is committed to bringing peace and promoting the exercise of fraternal charity in a way that is acceptable to all, respecting the ideas and sensitivities of each person.”

The Pope also expressed his joy at having met “a courageous people determined to begin again. Despite the problems and obstacles, the people of Angola intend to build their future by traveling along paths of forgiveness, justice and solidarity."

Addressing government officials, Benedict XVI appealed to them on behalf of the “most needy,” asking that they be the principal concern of public officials. 

“Our hearts cannot find peace while there are still brothers and sisters who suffer for lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods. If we are to offer a definite response to these fellow human beings, the first challenge to be overcome is that of building solidarity: solidarity between generations, solidarity between nations and between continents, which should lead to an ever more equitable sharing of the earth's resources among all people."

As he prepared to depart, the Pontiff exhorted his Angolan audience to “never tire of promoting peace, making gestures of forgiveness and working for national reconciliation, so that violence may never prevail over dialogue, nor fear and discouragement over trust, nor rancor over fraternal love.” This is all possible,” he emphasized, “if you recognize one another as children of the same Father, the one Father in heaven."

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