For Immediate Release
January 5, 2023

The African Legacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Washington, DC – Today, the world celebrated the Funeral Mass of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square Rome. Over 200,000 visitors paid their respects to the late Pope Emeritus, who was a strong voice for Africa during his papacy and a true leader putting those he served above his title when he chose to step down from being Pope. During his Pontificate he convened the Second Synodal Assembly for Africa, he published Jesus of Nazareth which drew media attention for its mentions of Africa, and his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus which criticized the exploitation of Africa’s resources and stressed the Church’s commitment to service, reconciliation, justice and peace for society and that it is the family that propagates the “culture of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation” (#43).

Steven Nabieu Rogers, PhD, executive director at the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) made the following remarks:

  • “A direct result from Pope Benedict’s Second Synodal Assembly for Africa was the much-needed establishment of Justice and Peace Commissions throughout the Church in Africa. This legacy remains relevant today, especially since many times the Africa Faith and Justice Network partners with these Commissions when doing our education and advocacy training in Africa.”

Rev. Aniedi Okure, OP, AFJN Consultant and former Executive Director and General Promoter of Justice and Peace and the new Delegate to the United Nations for the Dominicans made the following remarks:

  • “I remember being interviewed about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, for the Pope who was elected for life to discern that he could no longer efficiently carry out the functions of the office entrusted to him, and resign for the good of the Church, is a great lesson in leadership. He understands that leadership is for service. If only African leaders could use the Pope as an example and step aside and let others, better able to serve, do so, how transformative it would be on the continent.
  • “In Pope Benedict’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus he called out the exploitation of Africa’s resources who, after siphoning out huge sums, drop tokens for Africa as charity. The Pope emphasized that Africa needs justice not charity because “A charity which fails to respect justice and the rights of all is false” (#18). He also highlighted the hope for Africans, to be found within themselves and through service, justice, and charity. He created hope for the African people and for the Church in Africa.”

Rev. Rocco Puopolo, SX, former Executive Director and Board member made the following remarks:

  • “The African Synod which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI assembled gave the church a pause to take a look back to see the progress, development, growth and mission of the Church in Africa. That synod helped us reflect on marked change in the increased number of local clergy, local religious communities, qualified lay leaders and the beginnings of justice and peace work by many dioceses and regions on the African continent.”

Read the “Death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Condolence Message from SECAM”
Read “Lessons from Pope Benedict XVI and the Papal Election
Watch the interview on Straight Talk Africa about the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
Read “Africae Munus: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
Read “The Changing Face of Mission in Africa
Read “The Pope Wants Justice for Africa
Read “The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice, and Peace