21 Mar 2009

Pope appeals for Africans to end corruption

3:36 pm on 21 March 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has made an appeal to Africans to rid the continent of corruption once and for all.

In a televised address in Angola during a week long tour of African countries, the Pope said that with integrity, magnanimity and compassion Africans could transform their continent.

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has launched a similar appeal, accusing many African presidents of running anti-democratic regimes.

Pope Benedict, 81, arrived in the Angola capital, Luanda, on Friday from Cameroon, on the second leg of his African tour.

He said that people in Angola knew "the time of hope has arrived" for Africa and that every "decent, hopeful human behaviour" would make a difference to God and in history.

"My beloved friends, with an upright, magnanimous heart that is also compassionate, you can transform this continent, freeing the people from the whip of greed, violence, disorder and guiding it through the path of those principles that are indispensible to any modern democracy," he said.

Those principles, he said, included respect, transparent governance, freedom of the press, health care and adequate schooling as well as the promotion of human rights.

The pontiff said Africans needed "a firm determination to change hearts and finally put a stop, once and for all, to corruption".

He also repeated concerns raised while he was in Cameroon that modern culture was destroying traditional African family values and he criticised the spread of sexual violence and abortion.

Similar comments by Annan

The BBC reports the Pope's comments were made on the same day as Mr Annan launched a strong attack on some African leaders.

On a visit to Nigeria, he said it was a matter of profound shame that once elected, many African leaders come to believe that only they can be trusted to run their countries.

He accused such leaders of governing for the benefit of a ruling elite, rather than society as a whole, and said that in too many African countries, human rights and the rule of law were disregarded.