Schedule Publicized for Pope's November Trip to Benin

Will Sign Apostolic Exhortation, Entrust It to African Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI’s three-day, one-city visit to Benin in November will focus on the signing of the postsynodal apostolic exhortation, but he will also visit a home run by the Missionaries of Charity.

The Vatican released Thursday the schedule for the Nov. 18-20 trip to Cotonou, the largest city of the west African nation. Benin is a little more than one quarter Catholic.

The main element of the trip will be signing the postsynodal apostolic exhortation, the fruit of the special assembly of the synod of bishops on Africa, which was held two years ago, in October 2009.

The Holy Father will depart from Rome at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, arriving at Cotonou at 3 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony at the airport he will visit the local cathedral.

On Saturday the Pope will meet with members of the government, representatives of state institutions, the diplomatic corps and leaders of the principal religions at the presidential palace in Cotonou. 

Later that morning he will visit the grave of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, before going on to meet with priests, seminarians, religious and lay faithful in the seminary courtyard.

Bernardin Gantin (1922-2008) was named the archbishop of Cotonou at age 37. In 1971, he was made an official of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and after that served in a variety of posts in the Roman Curia, including as president of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, and Cor Unum, and prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. He was also dean of the College of Cardinals.

Signing

Benedict XVI will then visit Ouidah’s Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for the signing of the postsynodal apostolic exhortation.

That afternoon, he will visit the “Peace and Joy” house, run by the Missionaries of Charity in the parish of St. Rita in Cotonou, and he will meet with a group of children. 

At 6:15 p.m., he is due to meet the bishops of Benin at the apostolic nunciature.

On Sunday, Nov. 20, the Pontiff will celebrate Mass and consign the postsynodal apostolic exhortation to the bishops of Africa. He will then have lunch at the apostolic nunciature with members of the synod’s Special Council for Africa, before traveling to the local Cardinal Bernardin Gantin Airport where, at 4:30 p.m., he will board his return flight to Rome.

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