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Pope John Paul II's Legacy in Africa

For a look at the legacy of Pope John Paul II in Africa, Voice of America contacted Father Peter John Pearson. He’s director of government and parliament relations for the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference. From Cape Town, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the accomplishments of the pontiff.

“Well I think there are two things you need to remember," said Father Pearson. "He wasn’t the first pope to come to Africa. Pope Paul came earlier in the late 60’s to Uganda. But Pope John Paul II has traveled extensively in Africa…So he’s been a pope who’s experienced first hand the trials and tribulations, but also the joys of Africa. He’s the one who has understood through personal immersion into the realities of Africa, some of the issues around Africa. And that’s been reflected in a number of his statements over the years, especially around development issues, around justice, around peace, around keeping a standard of hope alive. So, that’s one incredibly important heritage, legacy, that he leaves an involvement in Africa,” he recalled.

In 1994, the pontiff called a synod on Africa. “This was a sign of the mature understanding he had of Africa," said Father Pearson, "that he called a synod of bishops from all parts of Africa to deliberate on the issues of Africa and to find a faith lens through which to understand it and begin to propose solutions."