Pope upset at stadium stampede deaths

Tens of thousands of Angola’s Catholics lined the streets of the capital for a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI, who urged the country’s faithful to reach out and convert people who believed in witchcraft.

Tens of thousands of Angola’s Catholics lined the streets of the capital for a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI, who urged the country’s faithful to reach out and convert people who believed in witchcraft.

But a stampede at a stadium before one of the Pope’s speeches left two people dead and others injured.

“The Pope is very upset,” Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said last night.

The stampede broke out as the gates to Coqueiros stadium opened hours before Benedict arrived, Mr Lombardi said.

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

The 81-year-old pontiff, wearing white robes, looked tired and moved slowly in the tropical heat during the stadium appearance before about 30,000 people in the late afternoon.

He gave a message of hope to young people, including some wounded and maimed during Angola’s long civil war that started with Angola’s 1975 independence from Portugal and ended in 2002.

In the morning, Benedict attracted thousands on to the streets every time his motorcade passed and delighted the crowds by speaking in Portuguese.

Drawing on the more than 500 years of Roman Catholicism in Angola, he called Christianity a bridge between the local peoples and the Portuguese settlers. Eighty per cent of the 16 million people are Christian, about 65% Catholic.

Security was unusually tight, with military sharpshooters atop buildings in the capital Luanda. The National Police deployed 10,000 officers.

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 week-long trip, the Pope’s first to Africa, Benedict drew criticism from aid agencies and some European governments when he said condoms were not the answer to Africa’s severe Aids epidemic, suggesting that sexual behaviour was the issue.

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