“The time has come for Africa to be the continent of hope.” Benedict XVI visited Cameroon and Angola from March 17 to 23 in 2009. He urged Africans to end wars, corruption, and tribalism, and to turn to Christ, but his remarks on AIDS and condoms were what the world’s secular news media focused on, profoundly distorting his message on this trip of hope.
The main purpose of the Pope’s stop in Cameroon was to deliver a working document for the Synod of Bishops for Africa, to be held in Rome next October.
The Holy Father then travelled to Angola to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Catholic presence there.
- Benedict XVI visited the Holy Land from May 8 to 15. During his pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the Holy Father sought to promote dialogue, reconciliation and peace. In Jordan, Pope Benedict visited Mt. Nebo, the place where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land before dying. In Israel, the pontiff condemned anti-Semitism and prayed for a new era in which all believers in the one God would live in peace and treat each other with respect and justice. In Jerusalem, Benedict XVI visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and then prayed before the Western Wall. The Pope also met the bishops of the Holy Land and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader.
- Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), the just society and our current crisis. In his third encyclical (July 7) Benedict XVI criticized the current global economic system “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,” and urged financiers in particular to “rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity.”
- Benedict XVI welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama (July 10) to the Vatican. The two discussed world issues addressed at the Group of Eight Summit. The Church’s position on bioethical issues got marked attention during Benedict’s meeting with Obama. The private meeting lasted more than 30 minutes. After their meeting, the Pope gave a little book to the U.S. President. “This is a document about bioethics,” the Pope said. And the president replied, “Oh, what we discussed earlier. I’ll have some reading to do on the plane…”
- “The Church needs priests who are holy, ministers who help the faithful experience the merciful love of the Lord and who are convinced witnesses of that love,” Benedict XVI said at a prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica, opening the Year of the Priest (June 19). The year 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, who was a “true example of a priest at the service of the flock of Christ,” the Holy Father said.
- The Pope’s visit to Czech Republic (September 26-28) was his seventh trip inside Europe and that reflected his deep concern for revitalizing the continent’s Christian heritage. The Czech Republic represents a challenge for the Church. Some 60 percent of the population claims to profess no religious belief, making it the most secular country in Europe.
- The Pope’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (“Groups of Anglicans”) was published at the Vatican on November 9 along with specific norms governing the establishment and governance of “personal ordinariates,” structures similar to dioceses, for former Anglicans who become Catholic.
- With a decree, Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II were both declared venerable (December 19).