Pope says African church must oppose 'toxic waste' of materialism


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Africans must tap into the strengths of their cultural and religious values to promote reconciliation on the continent and to resist the "spiritual toxic waste" spread by the West, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Presiding Oct. 4 over the opening Mass for the special Synod of Bishops for Africa, Pope Benedict said the vocation of the Catholic Church on the continent is to work for peace and to promote the holiness that will lead to justice, strong families and care for the weakest members of African societies.

Although there was a sprinkling of the languages spoken most in Africa, the major part of the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica was in Latin or Italian, including the pope's homily.

The Mass booklets used by the congregation and concelebrants were illustrated with sacred art from Congo, Togo, Burundi and Ethiopia.

Accompanied by guitars and drums, a choir from Congo sang traditional African hymns while the Sistine Choir and an Italian choir led the singing in Latin. The theme of the Oct. 4-25 synod is "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace."