Church Must Protect Africa's Poor: Pope
Pontiff praises growing church but worries about 'superstition'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2009 7:36 AM CDT
Pope Benedict XVI, left, sits with Cameroon President Paul Biya as he is welcomed on arrival at the airport in Yaounde, Cameroon Tuesday, March 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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(Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI set down strategy for his church in Africa today, telling bishops to protect the traditional values of the African family and to spare the poor from the impact of globalization. The pontiff, beginning his first African pilgrimage in Cameroon, also said that the exuberant local African rites should not "obstruct" the liturgy of the Mass.

Benedict said that while the Catholic Church in Africa is the fastest growing in the world, it faces competition from increasingly popular evangelical movements and "the growing influence of superstitious forms of religion." Today he met with long-ruling Cameroonian president Paul Biya, whom Amnesty International recently accused of seeking to crush political opposition. No details were given about the meeting, but the cardinal of Cameroon said today that Biya should not seek re-election.