Benedict XVI’s second trip to Africa was, by all accounts, a great success. Despite temperatures in the upper 80s and reports that he is suffering from arthrosis, the Pope looked sprightly throughout the three-day trip to Benin. In his speeches, Pope Benedict insisted that Africa is at a historic crossroads. Either it will follow the materialistic path to modernity taken by the West or it will find its own route to prosperity, retaining an appreciation of the things of the spirit. He expressed this most pithily in his 138-page apostolic exhortation, Africae Munus, which he presented to the African Church during his visit. “To deprive the African continent of God,” the Pope wrote, “would be to make it die a slow death, by taking away its very soul.” But Benedict XVI was not simply endorsing a vague African spirituality. He wants the local Church to be more distinctively Catholic: to draw a sharper line between Catholic devotions and traditional practices, to shape politics but not become a political party and to promote “the life of the intellect and reason” as well as ecstatic religious experience. These are vital goals for African Catholics and the struggle to meet them will last far into the 21st century.
Page 13, 25th November 2011
25th November 2011
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Organisations: African Church
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A 21st-century challenge
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