LUANDA, ANGOLA (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass Sunday with an estimated one million Angolans and decried the “clouds of evil” over Africa that have spawned war, tribalism and ethnic rivalry that reduce poor people to slavery.
The biggest crowd of Benedict’s seven day pilgrimage to Africa turned up in sweltering heat for the open-air service on the outskirts of Angola’s seaside capital, Luanda, the last major event before the end of the visit on Monday.
“How true it is that war can destroy everything of value”, Benedict said mopping his sweaty brow with a white handkerchief.
Evils in Africa have “reduced the poor to slavery and deprived future generations of the resources needed to create a more solid and just society,” he said.
Benedict told the crowds clustered in a huge vacant lot near a cement factory that he regretted the deaths of two women who were trampled in a stampede at a stadium Saturday before his address to young Angolans.
He extended his condolences to the victims’ families and wished those injured a speedy recovery. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the two 20-year-old women were trampled when gates opened at a Luanda stadium and the died later in hospital.
The spokesman said the Vatican’s No. 2 official Cardinal Tarcisio Pertone will visit some 40 injured people in hospital.