Pope condemns abortion and sexual violence on Africa tour

Pope Benedict XVI has reiterated the stance of the Roman Catholic Church against abortion and has condemned sexual violence in his visit to Africa.

The Pope was greeted in Angola’s capital Luanda by hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom wore white t-shirts bearing a picture of the Pope and the words “Welcome to our land” in Portuguese.

One 52-year-old housekeeper, Fatima de Castro, travelled 14 hours through the night in order to greet the Pope outside the capital’s airport. She said, "I have come to see our papa because he is good for the Church and the Church is good to us," reports AP.

Upon his arrival at the airport the Pope was greeted by the Angolan President, Eduardo dos Santos.

During a meeting with government leaders and diplomats, the Pope said, "Particularly disturbing is the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure, not to mention the unspeakable practice of sexual violence and exploitation, which causes such humiliation and trauma."

He also lamented the "irony of those who promote abortion as a form of 'maternal' health care … How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health.”

Angola, together with 44 other countries of the African Union, recently signed an agreement that abortion should be made legal in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is endangered.

The Pope’s visit to Angola is the second and final stop on his first visit to Africa as head of the Roman Catholic Church. At the start of his tour he faced criticism for saying that contraception was not the way to halt the spread of Aids, which has ravaged the continent and especially in the sub-Saharan regions.