Beliefnet
Pontifications

That seems to be the upshot of coverage. Having dispensed with condoms, he has spoken strongly and movingly about the great social problems facing the continent, and the specific countries he has visited–first Cameroon and now Angola.

NCR’s John Allen describes his arrival in that war-torn nation as a “John Paul” moment for the scholarly German:

Aware that he was speaking to a country that experienced a civil war from independence in 1975 to 2002, leaving an estimated 500,000 people dead, Benedict reached into his own past to connect.

“I come from a country where peace and fraternity are dear to the hearts of all its people — in particular those, like myself, who have known war and division between family members from the same nation, as a result of inhuman and destructive ideologies. Under the false appearance of dreams and illusions, [they] caused the yoke of oppression to weigh down upon the people,” he said during an arrival ceremony at the Luanda airport.

“You can therefore understand how keenly aware I am of dialogue as a way of overcoming every form of conflict and tension, and making every nation — including your own — into a house of peace and fraternity,” the pope said.

John said the seriousness of the message “was only slightly undercut by the fact that it was a blustery day in Luanda, and at one point while he spoke a gust of wind swept the white zucchetto, or skullcap, off the pontiff’s head.” I’m sure he took it in stride, and someone took it as a boffo souvenir.

Allen also saw that “ad extra” theme as Benedict wrapped up in Cameroon, and John Thavis has coverage of Benedict’s condemnation of abortion in a talk to Angolan political leaders and an international group of diplomats.

The pope said women and girls in particular experience “crushing” discrimination and sexual exploitation. At the same time, he criticized agencies that, under the pretext of improving health care, try to promote abortion.

“How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of ‘maternal’ health care! How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health!” he said.

Included in the appeal was a focus on improved respect for women, but the remarks on abortion could be construed as a fairly direct hit at Obama’s lifting of the so-called gag rule in the Mexico City policy.

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