Pope Benedict ends Africa tripMarch 23rd, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS
Luanda, March 23 (DPA) Pope Benedict XVI left Africa Monday after a week-long visit, which was marred at the outset by his controversial remarks over condoms but ended on a more positive note in Angola, where he was acclaimed by hundreds of thousands of Catholics.
Benedict lifted off from the main airport in Angola’s capital Luanda shortly before 11 a.m. (10 GMT) after a three-day visit, during which he urged the oil-rich southern African nation to tackle high levels of corruption and inequality.
On Saturday, tragedy struck during his outdoor stadium rally for Angolan youth, when two teenage girls were trampled to death by a surging crowd.
But the sombre mood was dispelled Sunday by a rapturous reception from up to one million worshippers at an outdoor mass at the gates of the city.
Benedict was celebrating the 500 years of Angola’s evangelisation by Catholic missionaries. Over half of the population, which is estimated at 12.5 million people, is Catholic.
Before that he visited the west African state of Cameroon, where he met bishops from across the continent about preparations for the second synod of African bishops in the autumn and held talks with local Muslim leaders.
His visit was overshadowed at the outset by his remarks about the role of condoms in preventing HIV infections.
On the plane to Cameroon the pope said condom use was not the answer to curbing the spread of the pandemic in Africa - remarks blasted by the health fraternity as a major setback to their prevention efforts.
Benedict was on his first trip as pontiff to Africa, the continent where the Catholic Church is growing the fastest.
During his trip he called for the church’s evangelisation efforts to be stepped up.
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