Photos: Papal visit to Africa

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  1. Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Luanda, Angola, on Sunday, March 22. (Ciro Fusco / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A girl who fainted is carried through the crowd at a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday in Luanda, Angola. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A Angolan soldier on horseback helps control the crowd after Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on Sunday in Angola. (Schalk Van Zuydam / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Onlookers scale a small hill to try to catch a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday in Angola. The pontiff is on a six-day visit to Africa. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Pope Benedict XVI arrives in a procession for Mass at the Cimangola open ground on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola, on Sunday. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A girl reacts as Pope Benedict XVI arrives at a gathering for young people in the city of Luanda, Angola, on Saturday, March 21. (Schalk Van Zuydam / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pope Benedict XVI meets with the faithful during his visit in Luanda, Angola, on Saturday. (L' Osservatore Romano / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Thousands gather in Luanda, Angola, Saturday, awaiting an appearance by Pope Benedict XVI. (Ciro Fusco / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Pope Benedict XVI watches Angolan dancers performing on the podium of Coqueiros stadium in Luanada on Saturday. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Pope Benedict XVI (in background) looks on as some twenty people representing three generations of the pygmies people present a dance for him, before he leaves the nunciature for Angola. (Osservatore Romano / pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Religious dignitaries wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the airport in Yaounde where flew to Angola for the next stage of his African tour on March 20. (Issouf Sanogo / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Nuns from the St. John Community in Cameroon react as the plane carrying Pope Benedict XVI takes off, at the airport in Yaounde, Cameroonon on March 20. Pope Benedict XVI departed for Angola on the second leg of his first papal visit to Africa. (Rebecca Blackwell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A woman carrying bread rolls on her head walks past a poster of Pope Benedict XVI in Luanda, Angola on March 20. (Themba Hadebe / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Pope Benedict XVI is welcomed by Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos as he arrives at Luanda International airport March 20. (Joao Relvas / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Priests traditionally dressed attend a mass given by Pope Benedict XVI at the Amadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde on March 19. Pope Benedict XVI held the first giant mass of his Africa tour. (Issouf Sanogo / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful as he celebrates a Mass in the Amadou Ahidjo stadium, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Thursday, March 19. (Andrew Medichini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. An African woman wears a cross outside of the Amadou Ahidjo stadium, where Pope Benedict XVI gave mass, in Yaounde on March 19. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A nun waits on the stands of the Amadou Ahidjo stadium for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI to celebrates a mass, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Thursday, March 19. (Andrew Medichini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Faithful rejoice as the sun bursts through dark thunder clouds during a heavy rain storm moments after Pope Benedict XVI arrived at the basilica to celebrate Vespers in Cameroon's capital Yaounde on March 18. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Vespers at the Mary Queen of Apostles Basilica in Yaounde, Cameroon on March 18. (Rebecca Blackwell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Pope Benedict XVI leaves on his popemobile after he celebrated a Vesper ceremony in the "Marie Reigne des Apotres", basilica, in Yaounde , Cameroon on March 18. (Andrew Medichini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Crowds cheer and wave to Pope Benedict XVI as he leaves the airport in Yaounde, Cameroon Tuesday, March 17. The pope arrived to begin his first trip to Africa, the fastest-growing region for the Roman Catholic church. (Rebecca Blackwell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. An African clergyman kisses Pope Benedict XVI's ring at the airport in Yaounde, Cameroon Tuesday, March 17. (Rebecca Blackwell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A Cameroonian woman holds up a cloth patterned with portraits of Pope Benedict XVI and Cameroonian President Paul Biya at the airport in Yaounde on Tuesday, March 17. (Issouf Sanogo / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd upon his arrival at Younde airport on March 17, 2009, on the first day of a six-day visit in Africa. Pope Benedict XVI brought the "Christian message of hope" to Africa as he arrived in Cameroon today at the start of his first visit to the world's poorest continent as pontiff. AFP PHOTO/ CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images) (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Sister Virginia Amena grins moments after Pope Benedict XVI shook her hand and gave her his blessing upon his arrival in Cameroon's capital Yaounde, Tuesday, March 17. The pope is seeking support for Africa during the world economic crisis, hoping to encourage peace and help tackle corruption. • Full story: NBC's George Lewis profiles Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., one of the missing soldiers who was killed by insurgents in Iraq. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 3/21/2009 6:22:05 PM ET 2009-03-21T22:22:05

A Vatican spokesman confirms a deadly stampede broke out at a stadium a few hours before Pope Benedict XVI addressed young people in Angola.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi says the pope is "very upset" by reports that two people were killed in the crush.

The incident occurred as the stadium was opening its gates to people waiting outside, about four hours before the pope arrived.

Portuguese news agency LUSA cites an unidentified source at a local hospital as saying a man and a woman were killed, eight others were hospitalized with minor injuries, and 10 were given medical assistance at the site.

An AP reporter saw another stampede break out when the pope arrived, and at least 20 people were taken away in ambulances.

Pope blasts sorcery
On his first pilgrimage to Africa, the pope drew on the more than 500 years of Roman Catholicism in Angola, saying that Christianity was a bridge between the local peoples and the Portuguese settlers. He appealed to Catholics of Angola to reach out to and convert believers in witchcraft who feel threatened by "spirits" and "evil powers" of sorcery.

"In today's Angola, Catholics should offer the message of Christ to the many who live in the fear of spirits, of evil powers by whom they feel threatened, disoriented, even reaching the point of condemning street children and even the most elderly because — they say — they are sorcerers."

In Africa, some churchgoing Catholics also follow traditional animist religions and consult medicine men and diviners who are condemned by the church. People accused of sorcery or of being possessed by evil powers sometimes are killed by fearful mobs.

Benedict counseled Catholics to "live peacefully" with animists and other nonbelievers and urged Angolans to be the "new missionaries" to bring people who believe in sorcery to Christ.

Eighty percent of Angola's 16 million people are Christian, about 65 percent Catholic.

Benedict spoke at a Mass at the capital's blue-domed St. Paul's Church, where light streamed through stained glass windows onto veiled nuns and priests and bishops resplendent in white and lilac robes.

Earlier, he was welcomed by a huge crowd. Children screamed their excitement and held up cell phones to take photographs of the 81-year-old pontiff. Young girls prostrated themselves before him in a sea of pink veils.

People chanted and swayed to drumbeats and the rhythm of hymns in this tropical seaside capital. Many women wrapped their waists in cloth printed with photographs of the pope's face.

The pope lovingly caressed the faces of children and sketched the cross on their foreheads.

‘Very emotional day’
Inside, veiled nuns and bishops resplendent in white robes with cerise belts and skull caps celebrated Mass with Benedict, who arrived in Luanda on Friday on the second leg of his tour of the continent with the fastest growing Catholic population in the world.

"This is a very emotional day for me, my first time to get a Papal blessing," said Sister Iliria Olivera, from Oaxaca in Mexico, among hundreds of foreign missionaries in the church. Olivera for nine years has been working with her Sisters of the Divine Pastor, teaching children and running a maternal health clinic outside Luanda.

After the Mass, the pope mounted a podium to bless the frenzied crowd of faithful who cheered him, crying out "Viva ao papa! Viva!"

On Friday, Benedict lamented what he called strains on the traditional African family, condemning sexual violence against women and chiding countries that have approved abortion.

Earlier in the weeklong trip, Benedict drew criticism from aid agencies and some European governments when he said that condoms were not the answer to Africa's severe AIDS epidemic, suggesting that sexual behavior was the issue.

In his remarks to diplomats, Benedict also called for a "conversion of hearts" to rid Angola and the rest of Africa of corruption.

Critics say last year's elections, which were swept by President Eduardo Dos Santos' party, were marred by fraud and corruption. Dos Santos has been in power for 30 years.

In his welcome speech after arriving from Cameroon on Friday, Benedict referred to Angola's poverty as well as its rich natural resources, saying the multitude of poor Angolans must not be forgotten.

Angola is rich in diamonds and oil, but war and mismanagement have left most of its people in poverty.

He referred to his own childhood growing up in Nazi Germany, saying he had known war and national divisions and was keenly aware that dialogue was a way of overcoming "every form of conflict and tension and making every nation, including your own, into a house of peace and fraternity."

Angola was lacerated by a civil war that started with its 1975 independence and ended in 2002. Its history as a former Portuguese colony has given the country Christian roots.

Dos Santos, who welcomed the pope at the airport Friday, said his government has good relations with the Vatican and underlined the strong role the church plays in the country's recovery from nearly three decades of war.

In a message of welcome published in the local press Saturday, he said "Today, the signs of reconstruction of Angola are already visible and we can say that the benefits of peace can be felt in the life of each citizen."

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