Brother Bishops, dear brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. My first impulse is to reach out to you, in order to assure each one of you–priest, Religious, seminarian, catechist, whether Sudanese or missionary – that you have a very special place in the mind and heart of the Vicar of Christ. Your life and activity goes on in the midst of grave difficulties, and you may sometimes think that you are forgotten by the rest of the world. But never are you far from the mind and heart of God. Your every prayer and effort is known to him. You are not forgotten by the Church, by the Successor of Peter, by Christians everywhere who pray constantly for you.
I greet you in the love of the Most Blessed Trinity: "Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour" (1Tt 1: 4). And I send a special greeting to the other priests, Religious and lay men and women who bear daily witness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in this land, but who cannot be here today. I hope that somehow they will hear my voice and know that the whole Church loves them and prays for them.
2. I am well aware of the sad circumstances of your country, tormented by a civil war that has brought untold misery, suffering and death to the Sudanese people, especially in the South. The life of your communities is deeply affected also by a breakdown in the good relations that should exist between Christians and Muslims. Moreover, you and your fellow–Christians are poor in the goods of this world, even to the point of extreme hardship.
With admiration and with intense gratitude to our heavenly Father for your fidelity, I encourage you to "stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel" (Phil 1: 27). In my own country I have known something of the horrors of war and of the ways in which the history of the catacombs has been repeated in this century. As the Successor of Peter, in my solicitude for all the Churches, I share the trials and sufferings of our brothers and sisters all over the world. Still, in this part of Africa, I see clearly a particular reproduction of the mystery of Calvary in the lives of the majority of the Christian people. And what answer can I give you? What consolation can I offer you?
In a short while we shall celebrate the Eucharist, "the acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world" ("Prex Eucharistia IV"). With unshakable trust we shall proclaim our faith:
"Lord by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.
You are the Saviour of the world".
Brothers and sisters, if there is one message that the Pope wants to leave with you it is this: Make the Paschal Mystery the centre of your lives! Gather the People of God to celebrate the mystery of faith. Nourish yourselves and your communities with the word of life and the sacraments of our salvation.
3. Dear Brother Priests: on the day of your Ordination you were configured to Jesus the High Priest for the service of the Gospel. May you never lose sight of that outpouring of grace which invested you with great responsibilities, but also strengthened and confirmed you for the labours ahead. Never lose sight of "Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Heb 12: 2).
The faithful look to you for support and encouragement, both in the pursuit of Christian holiness and in their demands for respect for their human and civil rights. You know that your role is not one of merely social or political action. Rather, you are "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1Cor 4: 1). The true "insignia" of your charge are your zeal for the Father’s will, your constant prayer, the witness of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, the acts of humble service which reflect the compassion of the Good Samaritan.
It is important for you, both personally and in order to place your ministry in its proper context, to maintain a lively sense of communion and practical cooperation with your Bishops, and through them to be in union of mind and heart with the one, universal Body of Christ. May you be true instruments of reconciliation and peace, particularly in administering the Sacrament of the forgiveness of sins.
I entrust you and your ministry to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin. May her intercession give you all the encouragement you need.
Dear Seminarians: you are discovering what it means to follow Jesus more closely and prepare yourselves for the ministry. Use every opportunity to acquire a deep and solid formation! Above all, day by day allow the Good Shepherd to shape your hearts after his own so that when hardships come you will be able, like him, to bear all for the love of the flock.
4. Dear Religious: you too have a special place in the Pope’s heart and prayers. Your role in the Christian community is fundamental and of extraordinary importance, not only because of what you do in all the many different forms of apostolate in which you are engaged, but especially because your faithful observance of the evangelical counsels effectively speaks to others, whether Christian or not, of the truth and significance of the Beatitudes, the core of the Christian life.
Take courage from those words which the Second Vatican Council addressed to Religious: "The more ardently that they unite themselves to Christ through a self–surrender involving their entire lives, the more vigorous will become the life of the Church and the more abundantly will her apostolate bear fruit". In the economy of salvation you are the living seeds of a marvellous spiritual fruitfulness. In particular I wish to assure the Sisters of the unique part you have in the Church’s life and mission. Your consecration, your example of genuine holiness and the ardour of your service make a decisive statement, in the actual circumstances of your apostolates, concerning the dignity of women. In the Church’s name I say: Thank you!
I wish to encourage you all to go on promoting vocations to the Religious Life, giving a solid formation to those who are called, and ensuring care and spiritual support for any Brother or Sister in need. May Mary, who hastened to assist her cousin Elizabeth, be a model of Christian charity for you all.
5. Dear Catechists: allow me to address you in the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: "I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort" (2Cor. 7: 4). You are at the centre of the local Christian community, often organized in Small Christian Communities. It is your task to speak the word of God in a language that is as close as possible to the needs and experience of your brothers and sisters. Through your words and actions Christ comes closer to the daily struggles of your people. Indeed, through you, to the extent that you assimilate the Gospel message, Christ becomes truly Sudanese. May the example of Blessed Bakhita, who never lost confidence and hope no matter how hard the conditions of her life, inspire you with love and mercy towards all.
6. Finally I wish to say a specific word of gratitude to the men and women Missionaries present in the Sudan. The Church in this land continues its mission with courage and determination, despite difficulties and restrictions, thanks also to your selfless service. You are a sign of the Church’s universality, of her unity of faith and openness to the communion of all the particular Churches in the same saving mission. May the Lord abundantly reward your unselfish commitment.
7. Brothers and Sisters: the Paschal Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is all the Church’s wealth and confidence. It is the source of our strength and hope. When man’s justice fails, it alone heals our wounds and gives meaning to our efforts. In the Eucharist which we shall celebrate this afternoon I will hold you close, "remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope" (1Thess. 1: 3). The whole Church entrusts you to God’s loving providence, knowing that, in the words of the Letter to the Romans: "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8: 27). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Your Excellency, my visit to the Sudan is a source of great satisfaction to me in the fulfilment of my religious and pastoral ministry as the Bishop of Rome, the head of the Catholic Church. I am happy to have been able to come to Khartoum, even if it was not possible to consider a more extended visit to other parts of the country, in order to offer the message of reconciliation and hope which is at the heart of Catholicism and which I bring to all the Sudanese people, irrespective of differences of religion or ethnic origin. I have looked forward especially to the opportunity to give encouragement to the citizens of this country who are sons and daughters of the Church, and whose deeply–felt aspiration is to cooperate harmoniously and effectively with their fellow–citizens in building a better society for all Sudanese.
Just recently, in my New Year Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, representing 145 countries, I voiced my concern over the many obstacles to peace and progress which still blight the international horizon. Regarding Africa, I made a point of reaffirming that "urgent aid is essential in several areas of conflict or of natural disasters". I also felt the need to make specific reference to the war which continues to set the peoples of the North and South of the Sudan against each other. I expressed the sincere hope "that the Sudanese, with the freedom to choose, will succeed in finding a constitutional formula which will make it possible to overcome contradictions and struggles, with proper respect paid to the specific characteristics of each community."
Your Excellency, this is the hope which I renew here today. It is a hope born of confidence, for peace is always possible. Man is a rational being endowed with intelligence and will, and therefore he is capable of finding just solutions to situations of conflict, no matter how long they have been going on and no matter how intricate the motives which caused them. Efforts to restore harmony depend on the parties involved being willing and determined to implement the conditions required for peace. But where constructive action does not follow declarations of principle, violence can become uncontrollable. A noteworthy example in Europe is the conflict in the Balkans; in Asia, Cambodia and the Middle East; in Africa, the tragic situation of Liberia.
The building–blocks of peace were succinctly indicated by the Sudanese Bishops themselves when they said: "Peace without justice and respect for human rights cannot be achieved." In a multiracial and multicultural country, a strategy of confrontation can never bring peace and progress. Only a legally guaranteed respect for human rights in a system of equal justice for all can create the right conditions for peaceful coexistence and cooperation in serving the common good. My hope for your country can therefore be expressed more concretely in a heartfelt desire to see all its citizens – without discrimination based upon ethnic origin, cultural background, social standing or religious conviction – take a responsible part in the life of the Nation, with their diversity contributing to the richness of the whole national community.
Ever since the establishment of Nation–States, the existence of minorities within the same territory has presented a positive challenge and an opportunity for a richer social development. At a time of growing awareness of the importance of respect for human rights as the basis of a just and peaceful world, the question of the respect due to minorities must be faced seriously, especially by political and religious leaders.
In the course of this century, extremely negative experiences in relation to the treatment of minorities, especially in Europe but also elsewhere, have led the international community to react strongly and to enshrine in international accords the rights of such groups. The translation of intent into law and behaviour in each nation is the measure of that country’s maturity, and the guarantee of its capacity to foster peaceful coexistence within its own borders and to contribute to peace in the world.
The Church approaches this question from an eminently moral and humanitarian point of view. Two fundamental principles underlie the universal obligation to understand and respect the variety and richness of other peoples, societies, cultures and religions.
First, the inalienable dignity of every human person, irrespective of racial, ethnic, cultural or national origin or religious belief, means that when people coalesce in groups they have a right to enjoy a collective identity. Thus, minorities within a country have the right to exist, with their own language, culture and traditions, and the State is morally obliged to leave room for their identity and self–expression. Secondly, the fundamental unity of the human race, which takes its origin from God the Creator of all, requires that no group should consider itself superior to another. It likewise requires that integration should be built on effective solidarity and freedom from discrimination.
Consequently, the State has a duty to respect and defend the differences existing among its citizens, and to permit their diversity to serve the common good. Experience shows that peace and internal security can only be guaranteed through respect for the rights of all those for whom the State has responsibility.
In such a perspective, the freedom of individuals and communities to profess and practise their religion is an essential element for peaceful human coexistence. Freedom of conscience and freedom to seek the truth and to act according to one’s personal religious beliefs are so fundamentally human that any effort to restrict them almost inevitably leads to bitter conflict.
Where relations between groups within a Nation have broken down, dialogue and negotiation are the obligatory paths to peace. Reconciliation in accordance with justice, and respect for the legitimate aspirations of all sectors of the national community must be the rule. To guarantee the participation of minorities in political life is a sign of a morally mature society, and brings honour upon those nations in which all citizens are free to share in national life in a climate of justice and peace.
Your Excellency, these are some of the thoughts which my visit leads me to express. I would draw your attention and the attention of the members of the Government to the sentiments which inspire the Catholic Church’s activity in every part of the world, sentiments which I stated recently to the representatives of all the countries having diplomatic relations with the Holy See: "The Catholic Church, present in every nation of the earth, and the Holy See, a member of the international community, in no way wish to impose judgments or precepts, but merely to give the witness of their concept of man and history, which they know comes from a divine Revelation.... Despite difficulties, the Catholic Church for her part will continue to offer her disinterested cooperation so that at the end of this century man will be better enlightened and able to free himself from the idols of this age. Christians’ only ambition is to show that they understand personal and collective history as a meeting between God and mankind."
At this point my good wishes for the Sudan become an earnest prayer that God’s gift of peace will become a reality in your midst, that harmony and cooperation between North and South, between Christians and Muslims, will take the place of conflict, that obstacles to religious freedom will soon be a thing of the past. May the Most High God lead all the Sudanese along the paths of truth, justice and peace.
Baraka Allah as-Sudan (God bless the Sudan).
"Come to me, all you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11: 28).
"Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Sudan,
1. In every age and place, these words of our Lord Jesus Christ have been a source of untold strength and consolation for Christians. Especially in times of trial and suffering, men and women, even young children, have experienced in their hearts the powerful presence of the Saviour, speaking these words to them and teaching them the mystery of his saving death on the Cross. "Let us be confident then in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help" (Heb 4: 16).
One of the people to whom the lesson of the Cross brought incomparable strength amid all kinds of sufferings was Blessed Josephine Bakhita, a daughter of this land. Today, in Khartoum, in the Sudan, in Africa, the whole Church in communion with the Successor of Peter turns to Blessed Bakhita and implores her intercession for the Bishops, priests, Religious and laity of this land: for Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Khartoum; for Archbishop Paulinus Lukudu and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Juba; for the Pastors and faithful of the Dioceses of El Obeid, Malakal, Rumbek, Tombura–Yambio, Torit, Wau and Yei.
2. Was it not a moment of refreshment and renewal, offered by Christ the Good Shepherd to the whole Catholic community of the Sudan, when, in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Josephine Bakhita was elevated to glory among the Blessed of the Church? She thus became a model of virtue and holiness of life for Christians. To religious believers everywhere she speaks of the value of reconciliation and love, for in her heart she overcame any feelings of hatred for those who had harmed her. She learned from the tragic events of her life to have complete trust in the Almighty who is always and everywhere present, and therefore she learned to be constantly good and generous to everyone. Her Beatification was an act of respect not only for her but also for the Sudan, since a daughter of this land was put forward as a hero of mercy and of goodwill. God used her to teach us all the meaning of Jesus’ words: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Mt 5: 9).
Jesus says: "Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned" (Ibid. 11: 25). With these words Christ blesses the simplicity of Bakhita, a child, like you, of this land. Through her simplicity and endless trust she embodied, on the via dolorosa of her life, that wisdom which comes from God himself, the wisdom which belongs to the Saints.
3. Today I give thanks to Divine Providence that I have been granted the opportunity of fulfilling the wish of the Church in the Sudan that Bakhita be honoured on her own soil, a wish expressed on the day of Blessed Josephine’s Beatification. I thank everyone: the civil authorities and all who have worked to prepare this visit; the Bishops who have invited me to pray with you and to share, even for a brief moment, the life of the Catholic community here.
I am happy also to greet the representatives of the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities. We are united by profound spiritual bonds, because of our common Baptism, bonds which must lead us to seek the unity which Christ himself wanted for his followers.
Likewise, I greet the entire Muslim community. An important purpose of my visit is to appeal for a new relationship between Christians and Muslims in this land. Only recently, in Assisi, Catholics, other Christians and Muslims of Europe gathered for a day of prayer and fasting for peace. I repeat now the conviction which I know was shared by the Muslims present at that meeting: "that genuine religious belief is a source of mutual understanding and harmony, and that only the perversion of religious sentiment leads to discrimination and conflict".
It is my earnest hope that there will be more dialogue and cooperation between Christians and Muslims in the Sudan. We must all realize that "to use religion as an excuse for injustice and violence is a terrible abuse, and it must be condemned by all true believers in God.... There can be no genuine peace unless believers stand together in rejecting the politics of hate and discrimination, and in affirming the right to religious and cultural freedom in all human societies."
4. It is difficult at this moment not to think of all the prayers and sufferings of those affected by the continuing conflict in this land, especially in the South. So many of you came originally from there, and are now homeless and displaced because of the war. The immense suffering of millions of innocent victims impels me to voice my solidarity with the weak and defenceless who cry out to God for help, for justice, for respect for their God–given dignity as human beings, for their basic human rights, for the freedom to believe and practise their faith without fear or discrimination.
I earnestly hope that my voice will reach you, Brothers and Sisters of the South. Like the people mentioned in the First Reading of this Liturgy, you too may be tempted to say: "The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us" (Is 49: 14). And yet, your Christian faith teaches you that your prayers and sufferings are joined to the great cry of Christ himself who, as the Supreme High Priest of the whole People of God, entered the Holy Place in order to intercede on our behalf. And just as once on earth, so now in the Father’s house he says: "Come to me, all you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11: 28). And when, in your hearts, you listen to his words, he adds: "Learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest."
So says Christ – the One who alone knows the Father and whom the Father knows as the only–begotten Son – the eternal Word, of one Being with the Father. Today, in the Sudan, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, repeats these words and encourages you to stand firm and to take heart. The Lord is close to you. He will never leave you alone. The whole Church understands your distress and prays for you.
5. In the midst of so much hardship, Blessed Bakhita is your model and heavenly patron. In the terrible trials of her life Bakhita always listened to Christ’s word. She learned the mystery of his Cross and Resurrection: the saving truth about God who so loved each one of us that he gave his only Son, the saving truth about the Son who loves each one of us to the end. Blessed Bakhita was faithful, she was strong. She confided in Christ without reserve. She showed herself a servant of God by patiently enduring troubles, hardships and difficulties, by purity, knowledge, forbearance and kindness – like the first Christians who, in the midst of the persecutions of the Roman Empire, showed themselves to be "servants of God... in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute." So writes the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians. And so speaks the history of the Church in Africa, not excluding the countries which I have now visited: Benin, Uganda, the Sudan.
6. It was the power of God which made Bakhita – in the likeness of Christ – into the one who enriches many. The poor slave–girl who had nothing showed that she was in fact the one who had the greatest treasure. And even if, humanly speaking, she seemed condemned to death, she lives! She lives just as Christ lives, though he was condemned to death and was crucified. She lives with his life!
In her new life in Christ this sister of ours returns to Africa today. This daughter of the Christian community of the Sudan returns to you today. You too are being tried in many ways, and yet life is your heritage, that life which the Risen Christ has brought for all.
And what are the signs of life in Christ in the Sudan today? The words of Saint Paul in the Second Reading speak eloquently of your daily toil: "Although saddened, we are always glad; we seem poor, but we make many people rich; we seem to have nothing, yet we really possess everything."
7. The Church and people of good will all over the world rejoiced when it was announced that a new political system would be introduced, a system in which all citizens would be equal, without any discrimination by reason of colour, religion or sex. It was said that all legitimate diversities would be respected in a multi–ethnic, multi–cultural and multi–religious country; that all religions would be free in their religious activities.
Religious freedom is a right which every individual has because it springs from the inalienable dignity of each human being. It exists independently of political and social structures and, as has been stated in a host of international Charters, the State has the obligation to defend this freedom from attack or interference. Where there is discrimination against citizens on the basis of their religious convictions, a fundamental injustice is committed against man and against God, and the road to peace is blocked. Today the Successor of Peter and the whole Church reaffirm their support of your Bishops’ insistent call for respect of your rights as citizens and as believers.
Every day the Christians of the Sudan are in my thoughts and prayers. The whole Church feels a deep solidarity with the victims of famine, with the terrible plight of refugees and displaced persons, of the sick and injured, of those unjustly treated, of so many lost and abandoned children. Africa must not fail to find and follow new paths of human solidarity, of justice and respect for human rights, of peace and constructive progress. The international community must not neglect its solemn commitments to Africa. International agencies must be enabled to provide assistance, to foster development, to promote conditions of freedom and peace in this sorely troubled part of the world.
8. Dear Brothers and Sisters, this Eucharist celebrated on Sudanese soil must be a sign of hope for us all. Christ is present here among his faithful people. "Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth!... the Lord will comfort his people; He will have pity on his suffering people" (Is 49: 13).
Rejoice, all of Africa! Bakhita has come back to you: the daughter of the Sudan sold into slavery as a living piece of merchandise and yet still free. Free with the freedom of the saints. Blessed Josephine comes back to you with the message of God the Father’s infinite mercy. Man sometimes thinks: "The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us" (Ibid. 49: 14). And God answers with the words of the great Prophet: "Can a woman forget her own baby, and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. I have written your name on the palms of my hands" (Is. 49: 15-16). Yes, on the palms of the hands of Christ, pierced by the nails of the Crucifixion. The name of each one of you is written on those palms.
Therefore, with full confidence we cry out:
"The Lord is our help and our shield. In him do our hearts find joy. We trust in his holy name" (Ps. 28(27): 7). Amen.
Sallu lillah bi wasitati at–tubawiya Bakhita as – sudaniya likay yubarika ‘aylati–kom (Through the intercession of Blessed Bakhita I ask God to bless your families).
JPII's Greetings to the faithful at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Celebration
This celebration has been a great grace of God. I wish to thank all who have prepared it and taken part in it: especially Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir and the other Bishops of the Sudan; the Cardinals and Bishops who are visiting; the organizers and volunteers who have arranged everything so well. I thank all of you for your respectful and prayerful participation in the Liturgy.
During this visit I have remembered a close friend of mine from the days of my pastoral work with the University students of Krakow – Professor Jerzy Ciesielski. He worked for some years as a visiting professor at the University of Khartoum, but in 1970 he died tragically in the Nile, together with his two daughters. A man of authentic faith, he made holiness the goal of his life as husband, father and University teacher. The Cause of his Beatification has already been introduced.
Before I leave you I wish once more to encourage you to place your trust in God and not to lose heart, especially the young people who are the hope of a better future.
Azkùru–kom fi salawati: Antom wa awlada–kom wa biladakom."
(I will remember you in my prayers: you, your children and your country.)
"Dear Friends, I have looked forward to this meeting with you, the leaders of the various religions professed by the people of the Sudan. My pastoral visit to the Catholic Church in this Nation gives me the opportunity to extend the hand of friendship to you, and to express the hope that all the citizens of the Sudan, irrespective of differences between them, will live in harmony and in mutual cooperation for the common good.
Religion permeates all aspects of life in society, and citizens need to accept one another, with all their differences of language, customs, culture and belief, if civic harmony is to be maintained. Religious leaders play an important role in fostering that harmony.
Here in the Sudan I cannot fail to emphasize once more the Catholic Church’s high regard for the followers of Islam. Sudanese Catholics recognize that their Muslim neighbours prize the moral life, and worship the One God, Almighty and Merciful–especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. They appreciate the fact that you revere Jesus and his Mother Mary. They acknowledge that there are very solid reasons for greater mutual understanding, and they are eager to work with you in order to restore peace and prosperity to the Nation. I hope that this meeting will contribute to a new era of constructive dialogue and goodwill.
I would also like to offer a special greeting to my Christian brothers from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Phil 4: 23). As you are well aware, the Catholic Church is deeply committed to the search for ecumenical understanding, in the perspective of fulfilling the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, "that they may be one" (Jn 17: 21). I am happy to know that here in the Sudan good ecumenical relations exist and that there are many instances of cooperation. I am confident that the Lord will bless your efforts to proceed further along that path.
To all of you, respected religious leaders of the Sudan, I express once more my esteem, and I repeat that the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. May God inspire thoughts of peace in the hearts of all believers."
"The moment has come for me to say good–bye to the Sudan at the end of what has been, for me, a most notable visit to Africa.
I wish to thank Your Excellency and all those who have made it possible for me to come among the Catholic community of Khartoum and to celebrate on Sudanese soil the Eucharist, the most solemn rite of our faith. I am grateful to Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir and all the Bishops and faithful of the Church who have shared this moving experience with me. The memory of this day will stay with me forever, and in my heart I share even more deeply the joys and sufferings, the hopes and anxieties of all who are working for true peace and harmony in this vast land.
As I leave Africa, I feel the pressing need to turn to God, the Father of all the living, and to implore his protection on the peoples of this continent at this time of change. Yes! Africa is changing. Not at the same pace everywhere, and not always in the same direction. But it is clear that the peoples of Africa are expressing a new sense of responsibility for their own destiny, and a desire to find and follow their own model of growth and development. May God assist the leaders of this Continent to discern the most adequate responses to the problems affecting their peoples. May he help them to rise to the challenge of making it possible for their citizens to take a greater part in forging their own brighter future.
I repeat what I said just 3 weeks ago to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See: "In this new Africa, it is important that the central role should be left to the population, which must be able to participate fully in development. For this purpose, the population needs regional and international cooperation to help to prevent crises on the one hand, and for this cooperation to support the process of democratization as well as economic growth on the other."
Africa! You have such great needs, but you also have so much to give! You have a deep sense of community and a vivid sense of the spiritual dimension of human life. Do not be led to think that an exaggerated individualism, which always ends in selfishness, is the right way forward. Maintain the strength of your family life, your love for children, your solidarity with those in need, your hospitality towards the stranger, the positive elements of your social and cultural traditions. Above all, do not exchange your spiritual values for a materialism that cannot satisfy the human heart nor form the basis of a truly just and caring society.
In bidding you farewell, I wish to re–affirm the Catholic Church’s continuing commitment to this Continent. The presence of Christianity in some regions goes back to the very dawn of the Christian era. In other places it has arrived more recently. In every case, the Church has been actively involved in educating the young, in caring for the sick, in promoting the human and spiritual development of Africa’s peoples. She has done so, not to seek a position for herself, and much less to impose a foreign way of life on Africans. She continues today in her apostolate and good works in order to bear witness to the fundamental hope which sustains her: the hope that all mankind will grow in unity and reach an ever greater communion with God. The very nature of her mission obliges her to foster cooperation with all men and women of good will in the service of the human family.
Africa! The Church, incarnate in the lives of your own sons and daughters, is determined to share the burden of your problems and the difficulties of your march towards a better future. She will not fail to encourage you in your search for greater justice, for peace and reconciliation, for an economic, social and political development that corresponds to the dignity of man. I urge all the members of the Church to bear clear witness to the Gospel’s saving message of hope, and to be faithful to the moral principles which ensure the defence and promotion of human dignity and human rights.
May God abundantly bless the peoples of Africa. May he protect the poor and the defenceless, and show his mercy to the young and old. May his peace reign in the hearts of all.
Dear Sudanese Friends, as I leave I express the hope that the path of understanding and dialogue will soon lead to a just and honourable peace for all the inhabitants of this country. I came to Khartoum with friendship and esteem for all the Sudanese people. I depart with the hope that a better relationship between North and South, and between the followers of different religious traditions, will soon be a reality, for it responds to the aspirations of true believers. God bless all those who work for this end. God bless the Sudan!
Manaha Allāh as- Sūdān barakat as-salām
(May God grant peace to the Sudan)."
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