Benedict XVI, while highlighting key events of this year, noted that 2009 has “passed largely under the sign of Africa.”

The Pope affirmed this today when he had his traditional exchange of Christmas greetings with prelates and members of the Roman Curia. In this annual address, the Holy Father highlights key events of the year. This year he spoke about his apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola, which took place March 17-23, as well as the Synod of Bishops for Africa, held Oct. 4-25 in Rome. The visit to Africa, the Pontiff said, was “moving,” as he experienced a reception of “great warmth,” “festive joy and cordial affection.” He noted that he was “particularly impressed” by the liturgical celebrations he witnessed in those countries. “The celebrations of the Holy Eucharist were authentic feasts of faith,” Benedict XVI affirmed.

He described two “particularly important elements” that he observed: “First of all, there was the great joy that was shared, which was experienced even through the body, but in a disciplined way that was oriented towards the presence of the living God.

“And that in itself already indicated the second element: the sense of sacredness — the mystery of the living God that was present shaped, so to speak, each single gesture. The Lord is present — the Creator, he to whom we all belong, from which we all came, and towards whom are all journeying.”