VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI ended a three-week Vatican meeting on Africa Sunday with a call for peace and reconciliation among all people on the continent, regardless of ethnic and religious differences.
The pope celebrated Mass in St. Peter's basilica to cap the meeting on the role of the Catholic Church in Africa.
"Courage! Get up, African continent!" Benedict said during the Mass, which he co-celebrated with some of the prelates who have attended the synod.
The pope also said that globalization should be regulated in order to include all nations, not just developed ones.
Globalization, he said, is not governed by forces that are independent of the human will and can be adjusted by men. He added that the Catholic Church is working to promote development for all countries.
Benedict said that reconciliation is necessary to ensure a just peace in Africa, and called on all people to contribute regardless of ethnic, religious, language, cultural or social background. He praised the work of missionaries as one that is both respectful of the local cultures and essential to help Africa out of hunger and disease.
The two-hour ceremony, which featured traditional music, chants and prayers from Africa, formally closed the synod. Among those who co-celebrated the Mass was Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who was appointed Saturday to head the Vatican's justice and peace office.
The appointment was one of the most significant pieces of news to come out of the meeting, as it cements the cardinal's standing as a possible future papal candidate. Turkson told reporters three weeks ago there was no reason there couldn't be a black pope, particularly after Barack Obama was elected U.S. president.
During the meeting, the 300 bishops and cardinals looked at pressing issues such as AIDS and political corruption on the continent.
In their final message, the bishops told corrupt Catholic political leaders in Africa to repent or quit public office and stop wreaking havoc on their countries. In their final recommendations, the synod also called for starting religious dialogue with followers of Islam and African traditional religions.
Speaking to the faithful after the Mass, the pope praised the "dynamism of the Christian communities, which keep growing in quantity and quality" in Africa.
While the Vatican has been concerned about the flagging faith of some Catholics in the affluent West, Church officials are heartened by the vibrancy of churches in parts of Africa and Asia.
In March, Benedict visited Cameroon and Angola, both of which have large Catholic populations.