Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Can Catholicism help Africa?

A portrait of the Pope in Yaounde, 15/03
Cameroon has seen excited preparations for the Pope's visit
BBC News Website readers in Africa have been sending in their reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the continent as pontiff.

The Pope will visit Cameroon and Angola on his week-long trip, where thousands are expected to attend open-air masses.

The number of Catholics in Africa has been rising steadily in recent years.

But can Catholicism really help Africa today?

Here are some of your comments:

Catholicism has contributed a lot to the moral revolution and education of Africa. I think that if all African Catholics were to abide to at least 70% of the teachings of the Catholic church and somehow in association with some accepted African beliefs and traditions Africa will have very little societal ills to ponder about. Justus, Yaounde, Cameroon

I don't think so, if there's anything Catholicism can do it will just calm peoples hearts and worries; but it wont feed them, it wont cure them. It will also not give them jobs or remove the continent's money squandering dictators. Bongsha, Yaounde, Cameroon

Catholicism cannot help Africa as most of what it stands for is irrelevant to the situation

The Catholic Church has been one body that has been consistent in the development of the African continent not only spiritually, but in the provision of quality education, health care, caring for the neglected and victims of natural and man made disasters. It has also spoken up against corrupt and inept leaders in a fearless and constructive manner. The Church is only fulfilling its mandate to bring light to a darkened world and needs to continue this mission unceasingly. Africa definitely needs the Church. Osayawe Ogieva, Nigeria

Catholicism cannot help Africa as most of what it stands for is irrelevant to the situation on the ground in Africa. Condom use does not only affect young people, even married people may need to use them. Arguing that Catholic teachings are against infidelity is not enough as it over looks certain cultural practices that are ingrained in the African's psyche such that they may never be totally dealt away with. It is crucial therefore that these be addressed by encouraging condom use. Kealeboga, Gaborone, Botswana

People blame the Catholic Church for its supposed contribution to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Yet they forget to ask themselves: why does this pandemic afflict more Africans than any other peoples? Before anyone shouts "promiscuity" at me, let me remind you that Africans are not nearly as promiscuous as Europeans, generally speaking. Indeed, if anything, we are generally more inhibited. The difference is that Europe obviously has an intensive educational programme in place, coupled with an advanced universal healthcare system, while Africa has neither.

What I'm trying to say is that nothing can save my continent if our rulers are as determined as they currently are to destroy it through mindboggling misrule. Incidentally, the Pope's visit, like the visits of other Western leaders, merely legitimises (and thus encourages) the misrule that defines Africa. Akpan, Canterbury, UK/Nigeria

For me the Pope is a moral guide giant and his coming will enlighten us all and help us to follow moral principles in our relationships that promote life and defend it from its conception. Fratricidal conflicts are common indeed. The rule of law is not obeyed and fraud and rigging elections has made unelected leaders to remain in power forever. Some Catholics are defecting to sects which are mushrooming all over Africa and assure people of immediate solution to their social problems. His coming will help us all to be faithful to our Christian demands and obligations. Long live the Pope. Simeon, Kasungu, Malawi

This is simply a business trip for the Catholic Church and the Pope. Perversely it's not because Africans are unreligious - it's because Cameroonians are so open to Christianity.

As a European in Africa I am embarrassed that this continent is still hanging on to Christianity when the white men who brought it here have largely moved on. This country needs less money spent on churches and a whole lot more money spent on hospitals, schools and infrastructure. Steve, Bamenda, Cameroon

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