The Vatican Page on the Journey has the program and a down-loadable missal. The Journey will be from March 17 to 23. The journey looks forward to the October 2009 Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the Church in Africa.
There is an official website in French for the journey to Cameroon. I have not yet found an official site for Angola.
The Benedict Blog
has a substantial round-up of the news articles about this apostolic
For television coverage available online, see the EWTN page (English and Spanish broadcasting) and KTO page (French broadcasting). KTO will have video on demand to watch events you may have missed when they were broadcast live.
John L. Allen, Jr. posted an overview of the two countries on March 14. Guidebooks, he said, typically call Cameroon "Africa in Miniature" because of its diversity.
Cameroon has both French and English as official languages, and the BBC in 2007 reported that some of the kids mix them up to be cool ('Tu as go au school?" for example). Angola's official language is Portuguese. Both Cameroon and Angola have large Catholic populations and large Muslim populations, as well as people who still follow the indigenous religions (animism).
Vatican Radio has an audio report about the situation on the ground at the time of the Pope's arrival, mentioning a Novena by the African people in preparation for the Pope's arrival, security measures, and the expectations of the people as they looked forward to the Pope's arrival.
Before the journey, John L. Allen, Jr. offered five reasons why this papal journey would be important and should be covered by the international press. As the journey unfolded, with Allen there reporting it, he wrote, "I don't think I've ever covered a papal trip where the gap between internal and external perceptions has been as vast . . . . It's almost as if the pope has made two separate visits to Cameroon: the one reported internationally and the one Africans actually experienced."
Tuesday, March 17:
Vatican Radio has an article about the Holy Father's discussion with journalists during Tuesday's flight. Catholic News Service also has an article. The Vatican has posted the text in Italian but not yet in English. The Pope answered six questions from journalists. The question about condom use, which drew the most U.S. news coverage, John L. Allen, Jr. reported that the comment prompted little interest among the Africans who are accustomed to the argument he made.
In another CNS article by the same author, John Travis, it was called "one of the strongest statements in a simmering debate inside the church." Setting it in context, Travis said, "The pope did not get into the specific question of whether in certain circumstances condom use was morally licit or illicit in AIDS prevention, an issue that is still under study by Vatican theologians." Rather, he spoke of the need for "a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering".
Catholic News Agency featured comments by Harvard AIDS researcher Dr. Edward Green, who agrees with the Pope's statement. According to Green, while condom use theoretically ought to help, that is not what is found in reality. In Africa, he said, "we just cannot find an association between more condom use and lower HIV reduction rates." Uganda is one example. The country saw a reduction of as much as 2/3 in AIDS infections when officials developed a program that fit their culture, advising people to “stick to one partner or love faithfully.” However, in 2004, Uganda’s AIDS infection rates began to increase once again, due to an influx of condoms and Western “advice", as Green described it.
Blaise Compaoré, who has been the president of the African nation of Burkina Faso since 1987, spoke about AIDS and condoms in an interview in 2005, including a statement recently published on French Catholic blog Le Salon Beige and translated at De Fide Catholica: "There is often a chasm between what the media say and what happens on the field. In Africa, we are living with AIDS every day. The debate on condoms, as you have, do not concern us. . . . The debate on AIDS is not theoretical, it is practical. The Church makes its contribution. If abstinence is a means of prevention, we will not do without it! . . ."
The Vatican website has the text of the Pope's address at the Welcome Ceremony at Nsimalen International Airport of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Vatican Radio also has the text. "I come among you as a pastor," he said, mentioning great African saints who have guaranteed "a distinguished place for Africa in the annals of Church history." Among them, mentioned Saint Josephine Bakhita, saying that she "offers a shining example of the transformation that an encounter with the living God can bring to a situation of great hardship and injustice. In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent." Asia News called it a "strongly worded message."
Fr. Federico Lombardi shared his impressions of the welcome ceremony as "a wonderful day" in an audio interview on Vatican Radio. On Wednesday, Fr. Lombardi published a statement explaining the Pope's comment on AIDS.
Wednesday, March 18:
After a private Mass and meeting with the President of Cameroon, the Pope met with the bishops of Cameroon and had lunch with them and his entourage. The Vatican website has the text of the Pope's address to the bishops. Vatican Radio has an article about that address.
In the address to bishops, he spoke of evangelization, mentioning that "the Second Vatican Council emphasized that 'missionary activity flows immediately from the very nature of the Church' (Ad Gentes, 6)." He said that the proclamation of the Gospel is the bishops' particular task. In order to undertake that mission, he said, it was important for their pastors to be "united by a profound communion with one another." He spoke of collaboration between dioceses as well as a close communion between a bishop and his priests. He spoke of discernment for those who are candidates for the priesthood, and spoke of the important role of catechists. He then spoke of the challenges facing the Church in Cameroon, including the family; the liturgy; the "spread of sects and esoteric movements, and the growing influence of superstitious forms of religion, as well as relativism"; the increasingly active role of the laity in the Church and in society; and Church social teaching in the context of globalization and poverty.
The Vatican also has posted his address at vespers that afternoon. Asia News has an article about that address. In it, he spoke of St. Joseph, on the eve of his feast day, as a model for priests and religious. Although St. Joseph is "not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, and yet he lives his fatherhood fully and completely." Describing a "faithful and wise servant", the Holy Father said to priests, "you are called to live out this fatherhood in the daily tasks of your ministry." To men and women in the religious life and ecclesial movements, he said that St. Joseph "took Mary into his home. He welcomed the mystery that was in Mary and the mystery that was Mary herself. He loved her with great respect, which is the mark of all authentic love. Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing." Also, he said, "Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life." And, he said, "His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of his plan to gather together all mankind into one family, one assembly, one 'ecclesia'."
Thursday, March 19:
The Holy Father's address at a meeting with the Muslim community spoke of the importance of reason to faith:
"My friends, I believe a particularly urgent task of religion today is to unveil the vast potential of human reason, which is itself God’s gift and which is elevated by revelation and faith. Belief in the one God, far from stunting our capacity to understand ourselves and the world, broadens it. Far from setting us against the world, it commits us to it. We are called to help others see the subtle traces and mysterious presence of God in the world which he has marvelously created and continually sustains with his ineffable and all-embracing love."
At a morning Mass, the Holy Father delivered the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled for October 4-25, 2009, at the Vatican on the theme of "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace: You Are the Salt of the Earth; You Are the Light of the World". Zenit previously reported that the instrumentum laboris was approved at a meeting held January 23-24. The Vatican has posted the Pope's homily from that Mass and his final words at the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris.
In his homily, Pope Benedict spoke about St. Joseph as an example, as he looked to the challenges of present day Africa with hope for the future: "If discouragement overwhelms you, think of the faith of Joseph; if anxiety has its grip on you, think of the hope of Joseph, that descendant of Abraham who hoped against hope; if exasperation or hatred seizes you, think of the love of Joseph, who was the first man to set eyes on the human face of God in the person of the Infant conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary." Among the specific issues he addressed were family life and the importance of the right to life: "Today it is high time to place greater emphasis on this: every human being, every tiny human person, however weak, is created “in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27). Every person must live!"
In his final words, the Pope said that the Instrumentum Laboris "reflects the great dynamism of the Church in Africa, but also the challenges that must be faced, which the Synod will have to consider."
The Instrumentum Laboris speaks of the changes in Africa since the first such assembly was held in 1994, and of the role of the Church in present day Africa, ranging from the role of bishops to the position of the lay faithful in different walks of life.
In an exceptionally busy day, which was also the feast of St. Joseph, his patron, Pope Benedict gave two more addresses, including an address for the meeting with the sick at the Card. Paul Emile Léger Centre, and an an address for the meeting with the Special Council of the Synod for Africa.
To the sick, he mentioned the African, Simon of Cyrene, who was among those with Jesus at the Crucifixion. He also mentioned St. Teresa of Avila, who was healed of her illness on the feast day of St. Joseph and who recommended him to all who do not know how to pray. She saw in St. Joseph, "not only an intercessor for bodily health, but also an intercessor for the health of the soul, a teacher of prayer." Pope Benedict also encouraged others to choose St. Joseph as a teacher of prayer, whatever their state of health.
In his meeting with the Special Council for the Synod, the Holy Father spoke about the history of Christianity in the continent of Africa and its more recent history and saints. Looking to the continent's future, he expressed hope that this century may permit a rebirth of a new form of the historic School of Alexandria, "with great theologians and spiritual masters." He then made some suggestions from theme for the Second Assembly, "reconciliation, justice and peace."
Friday, March 20:
Friday saw another private Mass and a farewell to the staff at the Apostolic Nunciature of Yaoundé as the Pope left Cameroon for Angola.
His last formal address in Cameroon was his address at the airport farewell ceremony. He concluded his farewell with these words:
"People of Cameroon, I urge you to seize the moment the Lord has given you! Answer his call to bring reconciliation, healing and peace to your communities and your society! Work to eliminate injustice, poverty and hunger wherever you encounter it! And may God bless this beautiful country, “Africa in miniature”, a land of promise, a land of glory. God bless you all!"
The rest of the day's events were in Angola, including an address at the welcome ceremony at Fevreiro International Airport in Luanda, Angola; an address at a meeting with political and civil authorities and the diplomatic corps; and an address at a meeting with bishops of Angola and Sao Tomé.
In his address at the welcome ceremony, he remembered Pope John Paul II's journey to Angola in 1992. He spoke about some of the present day difficulties facing the people of Angola, and its need for common values that can be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Afterward, he told the political and civil authorities and diplomatic corps that "Angola knows that the time has come for Africa to be the Continent of Hope!" He assured them that the Church will always stand with the poorest of the people and will support families, including those with HIV/AIDS, that through diocesan initiatives, through religious orders' educational, healthcare and social works, and through the development programmes of Caritas and other agencies, the Church will continue to do all she can to support families - including those suffering the harrowing effects of HIV/Aids.
In his meeting with bishops, he spoke of Christ as the true humanism, and the Church as "a corrective to a widespread relativism which acknowledges nothing as definitive." He spoke of culture as "a decisive factor for the future of the faith and the overall direction of national life", and of the Church's voice in the discussion of cultural issues affecting national life. Among those issues, he mentioned the importance of the family. He called Africa's vocations "vocations to the ordained ministry and the consecrated life, especially the contemplative life" a "genuine sign of hope for the future."
Saturday, March 21:
Several key events were held this day. One of them was a Holy Mass with bishops, priests, religious, ecclesial movements and catechists. Another was a meeting with youth at Dos Coqueiros Stadium. A third was a meeting with Catholic movements for the promotion of women. In a rare tragedy, two young people died, and many were injured, in a stampede at the stadium hours before the Pope's arrival for the meeting with youth.
The Vatican has not yet posted its official English translations of the Pope's addresses this day on the Vatican website. Vatican Radio has the text of the homily for Mass. Catholic News Service has an article about the meeting with youth and about the stampede before it. Vatican Radio also has an audio report with an interview with John Baptist Tumusiime about the Pope's words in the meeting on the promotion of women.
In the Holy Father's homily for Mass, he spoke about God's mercy, speaking from the Gospel reading (Luke 18:9-14) about the pharisee who "paraded all his merits before God, virtually making God his debtor" and the tax collector who prayed "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner." He also mentioned St. Paul's letter saying that he had received mercy although St. Paul described himself as "the foremost of sinners" (I Tim. 1:15-16). He spoke of the bishops, priests and others who heard him as "fellow-workers in the Lord’s vineyard, where you labour daily to prepare the wine of divine mercy and to pour it out as balm on the wounds of your people who have suffered so many tribulations." He said to them:
"Today it is up to you, brothers and sisters, following in the footsteps of those heroic and holy heralds of God, to offer the Risen Christ to your fellow citizens. So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers. Who can go to them to proclaim that Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers (cf. Eph 1:19-23; 6:10-12)?"
In his address at his meeting with youth, he thanked the youth for their festive atmosphere and told them "My young friends, you hold within yourselves the power to shape the future." He spoke of God's presence and His Spirit entering hearts and joining them to the God who is one and three. He challenged them with the words "Take courage!" and asked them to "Dare to make definitive decisions." He said, "Dear young people, as seeds filled with the power of the same eternal Spirit, sprout up before the warmth of the Eucharist, in which the Lord’s testament is fulfilled: he gives himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to others, for love of him. This is the way that leads to life; it can be followed only by maintaining a constant dialogue with the Lord and among yourselves."
Sunday, March 22:
In an open-air Mass in Angola, the Holy Father spoke about the evils of war. Zenit has an English translation of the homily.
On a day set aside in Africa as a day of prayer for national reconciliation, he said, "The Gospel teaches us that reconciliation, true reconciliation, can only be the fruit of conversion, a change of heart, a new way of thinking. It teaches us that only the power of God's love can change our hearts and make us triumph over the power of sin and division." He said that it was to preach that "message of forgiveness, hope and new life in Christ" that he has come to Africa.
An Associated Press article discusses the long history of wars in Angola and other political issues addressed during this journey. The article does not report the spiritual aspects of the Pope's words, even calling the rose-colored vestments of Laetare Sunday, mid-Lent, a "pink cape".
In the same paragraph of the homily in which he mentioned the evil of war, the Holy Father also decried a darkness that is less peculiarly Angolan, "that insidious 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." He encouraged evangelization, especially by the young people, to "affirm, purify and ennoble the profound human values present in your native culture and traditions", and "leading them by your own example to an appreciation of the beauty and truth of the Gospel."
In the afternoon, the Holy Father met with members of Catholic movements at a meeting on the promotion of women. Zenit also has the text of that address. He offered Mary as mediator, recalling the wedding at Cana. Here are some of the more striking and clear statements from that address about the role of women in society and in the family:
"I call everyone to an effective awareness of the adverse conditions to which many women have been -- and continue to be -- subjected, paying particular attention to ways in which the behavior and attitudes of men, who at times show a lack of sensitivity and responsibility, may be to blame. This forms no part of God's plan. . . .
"Dear Angolans, since the dignity of women is equal to that of men, no one today should doubt that women have "a full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life, and this right must be affirmed and guaranteed, also, where necessary, through appropriate legislation. This acknowledgment of the public role of women should not however detract from their unique role within the family. . . . The presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society, that it should be recognized, commended and supported in every possible way. For the same reason, society must hold husbands and fathers accountable for their responsibilities towards their families."
Vatican Radio has an audio report about the Holy Father's statements on the role of women, which was also a repeated theme in his other addresses during this journey.
Monday, March 23
Pope Benedict left Africa this morning to return to Italy. The Vatican Press Office has posted the text of his farewell address in English translation. After thanking the president of Angola and others, and making a final appeal for the most needy citizens, he turned his attention to the upcoming Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops devoted to the continent of Africa. He also asked for God's protection for the refugees who have fled and are waiting to return home. Here is the conclusion of his farewell address:
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, friends from Africa, dear Angolans, take heart! 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 rancour over fraternal love. This is all possible if you recognize one another as children of the same Father, the one Father in Heaven. May God bless Angola! May he bless each of her sons and daughters! May he bless the present and the future of this beloved nation. May God be with you!"