Benedict XVI celebrated Sunday mass with one million people in Angola. It was the largest concentration of people during the Pope’s first trip to Africa as pontiff.
The high number of faithful eager to see the Pope is a sign of growing Catholicism in Africa. However, one event ended in tragedy when a stampede broke out killing two women and wounding more than 50, hours before the Pope addressed some 30 thousand young people. Benedict XVI recalled the incident with sadness in his homily.
I offer my sympathies to their families and friends, and my deep sorrow, because they were coming to meet me. I pray for the wounded and that they get well soon.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone visited those wonded at the hospital and prayed before the bodies of the 2 young women who lost their lives.
A special importance was given to youth in Angola where more than half the population is under 18. Adding to the meeting he had with young people the day before, Benedict XVI had a special message for Africa’s youth during his homily.
Dear young friends: you are the hope of your country’s future, the promise of a better tomorrow!
The Pope spoke against violence produced by the belief in witchcraft and urged Christians to live in peace with those who practice it but help convert them as well.
He also reflected on the scars left by constant wars in Africa and the many victims claimed in Angola, one of the continent’s most land mined countries.
Tragically, the clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola. 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.
As one million Angolans celebrated with the Pope 500 years of Christianity in their country, Benedict XVI asked to “be grateful for those who brought it” as a sign of unity among the human race.