November 8, 2011. (Romereports.com)
The pope is planning on visiting Africa in late November. For a total of three days, he'll visit the country of Benin. Even though it's a short trip, it will be key, especially since the pope will meet with bishops of the entire continent. Bishop Barthélemy Adoukonou, is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and he's also a native of Benin. Since the start, he's been following all preparations very closely. Msgr. Bishop Barthélemy Adoukonou
Secretary, Pontifical Council for Culture“Benin prepared the pope's visit with excitement. The local Church has worked hard for almost a year, since the announced was made. The government has worked hard as well, making sure the Holy Father's visit goes smoothly.”
The pope will arrive on Friday November 18. Once there, he'll present a document that includes an analysis on the bishops Synod, which took place back in October 2009 at the Vatican.
The guide will be used by African bishops for years to come. Msgr. Barthélemy Adoukonou
Secretary, Pontifical Council for Culture
“During Mass in Cotonou, the pope will give this document to the Church in Africa. When he gives us the apostolic exhortation on the Synod, it will be a very important moment. The first Synod defined the Church in Africa as part of God's family. This second one, will push us to transform society.”
During his trip, the pope will also celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country's evangelization. He's planning on visiting the cities of Cotonou and Ouidah. His schedule also includes a visit to the oldest seminary of the west African coast. Benedict XVI will also pray at the tomb of Cardinal Bernard Gantin, who died three years ago. He was Cardinal Ratzinger's predecessor as dean of the College of Cardinals.
This will be the pope's second trip to Africa and the third time a pope visits Benin. John Paul II visited the country twice during his pontificate.
Msgr. Barthélemy Adoukonou
Secretary, Pontifical Council for Culture“I was there during John Paul II's two visits. What struck me most was his love for Africa. Cardinal Gantin who was a key figure of Benin at the Vatican, was also there. The arrival of John Paul II was like a party, a great joy for all.”
Benin has a population of about 9 million people. About 44% are Christians, 30% practice voodoo. Roughly 25 percent are Muslims. As far as Catholics, there are about 2 million in the country.