Benedict says learn Gospel from Africa and Asia

Pope Benedict has told a gathering of 250,000 pilgrims at an open-air Mass in his native Germany that hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and that Africa and Asia could teach the West something about faith.

"We are no longer able to hear God - there are too many different frequencies filling our ears," Pope Benedict said, according to Ninemsn. "What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age."

He said that people from Asia and Africa admire the West's scientific and technical progress but are concerned about its secularism.

"People in Asia and Africa ... are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason," he told the audience.

The Pope was speaking on the second day of a six-day homecoming trip to his native Bavaria where he served as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

Benedict also criticised the German church for putting social service projects and technical assistance to the poor ahead of spreading the Christian message.

African bishops, he said, told him all doors were open to them in Germany when they wanted to talk about aid projects, but added they were greeted with reservations when it came to evangelisation.

"Clearly, some people have the idea that social projects should be urgently undertaken, while anything dealing with God or even the Catholic faith is of limited and lesser importance," Benedict said.

He said that faith must come first, before progress can be made on social problems such as the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

"Hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and reconciliation is to begin, and if - for example, AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes."

Earlier, the Pope had visited Munich's Georgianium Seminary before arriving in Munich's central square on Saturday where people welcomed him with the chant "Benedetto! Benedetto!", the Catholic News Agency reports.

"It is very moving for me to stand once more in this beautiful square at the foot of the Mariensaule [Column of Mary] - in a place which already witnessed two other decisive turning-points in my life," the Pope declared.

"Here, almost thirty years ago, the faithful welcomed me with joy as their new Archbishop: I then began my ministry with a prayer to the Mother of God. Here too, five years later, after being called to Rome by the Pope, I bade farewell to my Diocese and once more addressed a prayer to the Patrona Bavariae, entrusting 'my' city and homeland to her protection."

"Today I am here again - this time as the Successor of Saint Peter."

The Pope then assured the people, who were once part of his archdiocesan flock, that he remains with them now that he is Shepherd of the Universal Church.

Don't substitute science for God: Pope (Ninemsn, 10/9/06)
Pope Benedict prays at the center of Munich, likens himself to a "beast of burden" (Indian Catholic, 10/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Benedict in Bayern website

Benedict heads home to Bavaria, Germany (CathNews, 8/9/06)

11 Sep 2006