Saturday, October 29, 2011


RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI received the bishops of Angola and Sao Tomé on Saturday, who are here in Rome for their ad limina visits. In greeting the bishops, the Holy Father recalled his March, 2009 visit to Luanda, during which he said he was able to celebrate Jesus Christ in the midst of a people who never tire of seeking to love and serve with generosity and joy. Pope Benedict also used the occasion to explain that his recent decision to proclaim the Year of Faith from October 2012 to November 2013, was so that the whole Church might demonstrate to all a more beautiful and credible face, that the face of the Lord might show through the Church more clearly.

At the heart of the Holy Father’s remarks to the bishops, however, was a threefold warning and encouragement for the bishops: against the temptations of the spirit of the age and mores of society, and for the strength to be authentic witnesses to the Gospel, especially as regards the basic structure and life of the family – noting that the bishops have made marriage and family as the pastoral priorities of their current three-year cycle of pastoral initiatives. The Pope called on the bishops to help couples acquire the necessary human and spiritual maturity to take their mission as Christian spouses and parents responsibly, reminding them that their spousal love should be lived as it is: unique and indissoluble as the covenant between Christ and his Church. “This precious treasure,” said Pope Benedict, “is to be safeguarded at all costs.”

The second major area of concern for the Holy Father was the danger, especially among the recently baptised, of a heart still divided between Christianity and African traditional religions. Noting that many people do not hesitate to resort to practices incompatible with Christian faith and morals in order to deal with life’s trials, the Pope Benedict condemned as abominable the practice of witchcraft, which often leads to the marginalization and even murder of children and the elderly. “Mindful that human life is sacred in all its phases and situations,” he said, “continue, dear bishops, to raise your voice in favor of their victims.”

Finally, the Holy Father mentioned the tangible remnants of tribalism in the attitudes of ethnic communities that tend to be closed, and not to accept people from other parts of the nation. The Pope expressed his appreciation to those of the bishops who accepted a pastoral mission outside the confines of their language or regional group, and he thanked the priests and the people who welcomed and helped them. Then, offering affectionate greetings to all the members of their local Churches, and entrusting the whole Church in Angola and Sao Tomé to the protection of the Virgin Mary, Pope Benedict imparted his Apostolic Blessing.

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