Statement by Mangosuthu Buthelezi - Benedict XVI

April 20, 2005

Statement by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

The new Pope, Benedict XVI

I warmly congratulate the new Pope, Benedict XVI upon his election. I wish him God's guidance and richest blessings as he takes over the helm of the Roman Catholic Church in an internationally globalised environment which is very different from the one that his predecessor inherited.

The new Pope brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom to his new role. He will serve as a symbol of continuity with his predecessor, particularly in matters of doctrine in a world of few constants and a growing tendency towards moral relativism.

There may be some disappointment that the new Pope does not herald from the developing world. Within a communion based on equality before God, this should not matter to anyone involved. I nevertheless express the hope that Benedict XVI will be able to play a prophetic role in bridging the North South divide.

Catholicism has more than a billion adherents worldwide; most of them in the South. As John Paul II played an indisputably important role in ending the Cold War, I believe that the new Pope can similarly use the moral authority of his office to play a similar role in defeating the biggest enemy of our time: HIV/Aids.

According to the Vatican, a quarter of the care of victims of HIV/Aids in the developing world is delivered by the church. I exhort the new Pope to take every opportunity available to him to breakdown the walls of stigma and silence that surround this disease, particularly in the developing world.