December 31, 2011. (Romereports.com)
The Catholic Church dedicates the month of November to pray for the dead. This is why early in the month, Benedict XVI visited the crypt of the popes
, beneath St. Peter's and prayed for his predecessors.
The pope also met with the “Israel Council of Religious Communities," it includes members from Islam, Judaism and Christianity. During the meeting, they discussed what the different religions could do for peace in the region.
“In our difficult times, the dialogue between religions is increasingly important to create a climate of understanding and respect that leads to friendship and mutual trust.”
The Vatican also held an important meeting with experts in adult stem cells. The pope said he supports their research because its respect for life and the good results they have seen. One example is Sharon Porter, who suffered from systemic sclerosis. Doctors took her stem cells and transplanted them back into her body. Since then, her medical condition improved dramatically.
In mid-November, the pope traveled to Africa for the second time. He went to Benin, an exemplary country of peace and democracy on the African continent.
There, he signed his first official document on Africa called the Apostolic Exhortation 'Africae Munus', 'The effort of Africa'. It was based on conclusions from the synod of Africa in 2009. In it, the pope hits issues such as AIDS, condom use, political corruption and economic development.
While the most heart warming meeting was this one with the Missionaries of Charity that take in dozens of abandoned children. The pope met with some of the children, teaching them how to pray and showing them the rosary.
Back in Rome, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati visited the pope and officially invited him to travel to Lebanon in the coming year. The pope praised the peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims in his country, but said he was concerned for religious freedom in the region of the Middle East.
The month ended with a major change for English-speaking Catholics. The last Sunday of the month saw the introduction of the new translation for Mass, meant to be more faithful to the original text. The old text was used over the last 41 years.