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Pope contrasts Europe's “ethical crisis” with Africa's “faith”
Published in Bikya Masr on 22 - 12 - 2011

Vatican City (dpa) – Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday reflected on his journeys abroad this year, saying he had drawn inspiration from his visit to Africa which, according to the pontiff, unlike Europe shows no sign of a “faith fatigue.”
The pontiff, who heads the world's more than 1.1 billion Catholics, made the remarks during Christmas greetings to members of the Vatican's administrative body, the Roman Curia.
In his address he referred to Europe's “economic and financial crisis,” which he said “is ultimately based on the ethical crisis looming over the Old Continent.”
In Europe, Benedict said motivation was “often lacking” among individuals and large sectors of society to “make sacrifices” and stick to a life centred on Christian values.
These he listed as: “solidarity, commitment to one's neighbour and responsibility towards the poor.”
Benedict said the need to proclaim the faith of the Christian Gospel was the theme that lay behind his journeys this year, including to Croatia, to Spain – where he presided over the Catholic World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid – to his native Germany and to the West African nation of Benin.
The 84-year-old pontiff noted how the church in Germany was afflicted by problems common throughout Europe: “churchgoers are growing older all the time and their number is constantly diminishing; recruitment of priests is stagnating; scepticism and unbelief are growing.”
“There are endless debates over what must be done in order to reverse the trend,” Benedict said.
The pontiff made no direct reference to proposals made by some reform-minded Catholic groups that in Germany and elsewhere are calling for the ordination of women priests and the scrapping of rules that prohibit priests from marrying – all of which have been rejected by the Vatican.
Instead Benedict said “the essence of the crisis of the Church in Europe is the crisis of faith.”
“If we find no answer to this, if faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength from the encounter with Jesus Christ, then all other reforms will remain ineffective,” Benedict said.
In Africa, Benedict said he had encountered a “joyful passion for faith (that) brought great encouragement … none of the faith fatigue that is so prevalent here (in Europe), none of the oft-encountered sense of having had enough of Christianity was detectable there.
“Amid all the problems, sufferings and trials that Africa clearly experiences, one could still sense the people's joy in being Christian, buoyed up by inner happiness at knowing Christ and belonging to his Church,” the pontiff said.
Benedict is scheduled on Saturday evening to celebrate a Christmas Eve mass in St Peter's Basilica.
On Christmas Day he is set to deliver his traditional Christmas Urbi et Orbi (to the city of Rome and to the world) greetings. dpa pwm hl
Tags: Ethical Crisis, Faith, Pope
Section: Africa, Religion

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