COTONOU, Benin, JULY 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will bring a “historic message” to Benin this November, when he makes his third trip to the African contnent.
Speaking at a press conference in Contonou, Msgr. Eugene Houdekon, the director of the organizing committee of the papal visit, said that during the Pope’s Nov. 18-20 visit, he will present the apostolic exhortation that will bring together the conclusions of the 2009 Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
The priest noted that this is a Pope’s third visit to Benin, following those of Pope John Paul II in 1982 and 1993.
He explained that there are two other reasons for the Holy Father’s visit to Benin: to mark the 150th anniversary of the evangelization of the nation, and to commemorate one of his great friends in Rome, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, a former dean of the College of Cardinals, who died in 2008.
Msgr. Houdekon recalled, moreover, that the Benin trip will be Benedict XVI’s second visit to the African continent, after the one he made to Cameroon and Angola in 2009, where he launched a message of reconciliation, justice and peace for the whole of Africa.
“Now, after the Synod for Africa, where the social-political tensions were revealed, which have degenerated into violence, death, hunger, popular revolutions, intolerance and all sorts of situations that do not correspond to God’s plan, it is a grace for Benin that the Holy Father is coming to bring a historic message addressed to the 54 African nations,” he said.
For his part, Father Andre Quenum, in charge of the organizing committee’s communications on the visit, stressed in particular the importance of Benedict XVI’s visit not only for Catholics, but for all the people of Benin, which will serve to make visible the “Church Family” that lives in Africa.
In this context, he appealed to all citizens of Benin to contribute to the success of the event.