Pope Benedict XVI has warned that a form of colonialism continues to blight Africa.
Opening a three-week synod of African bishops, he said political colonialism was over.
But he said the developed world continued to export materialism - which he called "toxic spiritual rubbish" - to the continent.
Almost 200 bishops from 53 African states have gathered in Rome to discuss how the Catholic Church can help resolve the continent's social injustices and wars.
The Pope says he will attend as many of the working sessions of the synod as possible, his other duties permitting.
Pope Benedict also said Africa also suffered increasing religious fundamentalism, in the form of religious groups which "act on behalf of God" but "teach intolerance and violence". He said evangelisation was "urgent" in Africa.
The BBC reports the synod is the second organised at the Vatican to be devoted specifically to the problems of Africa. The first took place in 1994.