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Pope Benedict in Angola on Second Stop of African Trip


Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos welcomed Pope Benedict at the airport as crowds of singing and dancing spectators waited to cheer the pontiff's motorcade.

In a country where two-thirds of the people live on less than $2.00 a day, the pope said the poor must not be forgotten and their rights must be respected, urging the dos Santos government to not disappoint their expectations.

Human rights activists said the benefits of Angola's vast oil and diamond wealth is not being equitably distributed. Pope Benedict said Angolans should "meet one another fearlessly, agreeing to share personal resources, both spiritual and material, for the good of all." The pontiff said, "Do not yield to the law of the strongest."

The pope is in Angola to meet with leaders of the country's 10 million Catholics and pay tribute to the religion's long history. Portuguese missionaries baptized Africa's first Catholic convert there in 1491. Pope Benedict holds an open-air Mass in Luanda Sunday.

So far, much of his week-long trip to Africa has been dominated by his rejection of condoms as a way to fight AIDS. The pope said abstinence is the best way to fight the disease and he said distributing condoms "aggravates the problem."

The United Nations estimates that 22 million Africans have the virus that leads to AIDS. Three-quarters of the world's AIDS deaths in 2007 were in sub-Saharan Africa where most health officials recommend condoms as a way to prevent its spread.

The International AIDS Society Friday condemned the pope's remarks as outrageous and insulting, warning they could lead to greater infection. Instead of spreading ignorance, the group said the pope should use his leadership position to encourage young people to protect themselves in all ways, including condoms.

Pope Benedict made those comments on his way to Cameroon at the start of this trip. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters in Yaounde that the pope is putting the emphasis on education. He said developing an ideology of confidence in condoms is not correct because it fails to focus on personal responsibility.

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