- (Photo: AP/Schalk van Zuydam)
Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up his Africa tour Monday by urging the continent to help the poor and to overcome its corruption problem.
Speaking from Luanda airport in Angola, Benedict appealed to African leaders to share their countries’ resources more fairly with the poor. Many African nations are known to be rich in natural resources but the wealth is concentrated among the political leaders while the vast majority remains in abject poverty.
"Our hearts cannot be at peace as long as there are brothers that suffer the lack of food, work, a house, and other fundamental goods," said the pope before boarding the chartered Alitalia plane to fly back to Rome, according to The Associated Press.
Angola was the second and final destination of Benedict’s first visit to Africa as pontiff. The first leg of his seven-day trip was spent in Cameroon.
Benedict’s visit to Angola was wildly welcomed, even resulting in the death of two young women killed in a stampede to the stadium Saturday where the pope would address the crowd, according to Agence France-Presse. Another 40 people were injured in the crowd rushing to hear the pope speak.
Angola’s population is 55 percent Catholic – one of the highest figures in Africa. Both the presidents of Cameroon and Angola, the two countries the pope visited, are Catholic.
President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola accompanied Benedict to the airport and told the pontiff his people are thankful for “the love we always get from the Vatican, which provides us strength and helps us promote democracy and justice,” according to AP.
"We are very happy we had this opportunity to welcome you to our country and we are very grateful for all the advice that you have given to our people," he said.
About 1 million Angolans endured the sweltering heat to attend the outdoor Mass on Sunday, where Benedict suggested that Christianity can help Africa overcome “the cloud of evil” that hangs over Africa, such as ethnic rivalry and tribalism, according to AFP.
The open-air mass in Angola was the largest event of Benedict’s Africa tour.