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Preview of papal visit to Africa

November 15, 2011

At a November 15 press conference in Rome, Vatican officials outlined plans for the forthcoming visit to Africa by Pope Benedict XVI.

The highlight of the papal trip will be the promulgation of an apostolic exhortation on the Church in Africa: the papal document concluding the work of the 2nd African Synod. Pope Benedict will sign the document in the presence of the presidents of Africa’s episcopal conferences.

The Pope’s weekend visit, which will be spent in Benin, will also emphasize the task of evangelization, noted Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office. Benin, he said, was point from which the Gospel message was spread to neighboring African nations 150 years ago. The papal visit, Father Lombardi added, should “arouse an atmosphere of hope for the African Church, and be an encouragement to the continent of Africa as a whole.”

Another highlight of the visit, the papal spokesman said, will be a visit to the tomb of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, a native of Benin and a beloved figure in that country. Pope Benedict worked closely with Cardinal Gantin for years, when the future Pontiff was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the African prelate headed the Congregation for Bishops. Later, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was named Dean of the College of Cardinals when Cardinal Gantin resigned that post after reaching the age of 80.


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