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Saturday, November 19, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 19 NOV 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Ouidah. Inaugurated in 1909, it was the first cathedral in West Africa and the starting point for the evangelisation of the region.

  On arrival the Pope was greeted by the rector of the basilica, who accompanied him in a moment of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Among those present were the members of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod, all of whom Benedict XVI thanked for their help in collating the results of the Second Special Assembly for Africa in preparation for the publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africae munus".

  "Today, the celebration of the Synod concludes with the signing of the Exhortation 'Africae Munus'", he said. "The Synod gave an impetus to the Catholic Church in Africa, which prayed, reflected on and discussed the theme of reconciliation, justice and peace. This process was marked by a special closeness uniting the Successor of Peter and the particular Churches in Africa".

  "The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops benefited from the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Africa' of Blessed John Paul II, which emphasised the urgent need to evangelise this continent, an activity which cannot be separated from the work of human promotion. The Exhortation also developed the concept of the Church as God's Family. This concept has borne many spiritual fruits for the Catholic Church and for the activity of evangelisation and human promotion which she has carried out in African society as a whole".

  "Within this ecclesial horizon, the Second Special Assembly for Africa concentrated on the theme of reconciliation, justice and peace. These are important issues for the world in general, but they take on a particular urgency in Africa. We need but recall the tensions, the acts of violence, the wars, the injustices and abuses of all sorts, new and old, which have marked this year. The principal theme was that of reconciliation with God and with one's neighbour. But a Church reconciled within herself and among all her members can become a prophetic sign of reconciliation in society within each country and the continent as a whole".

  "We must never give up the search for new paths of peace! ... To attain peace, we need to have courage and the reconciliation born of forgiveness, the will once more to live as one, to share a vision of the future and to persevere in overcoming difficulties. Men and women reconciled and at peace with God and neighbour can work for greater justice in society".

  "Africa, land of a New Pentecost, put your trust in God! Impelled by the Spirit of the Risen Christ, become God's great family, generous with all your sons and daughters, agents of reconciliation, peace and justice! Africa, Good News for the Church, become Good News for the entire world!"

  Having completed his address, the Pope signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation and imparted his blessing upon those present. He then boarded a car which took him forty-five kilometres from Ouidah to the apostolic nunciature in Cotonou.
PV-BENIN/                                VIS 20111119 (540)

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