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Benin: Thousands Pack Stadium As Pope Delivers Sunday Mass
Benin - Thousands of people poured into Cotonou's Friendship Stadium on Sunday to hear Pope Benedict XVI deliver Sunday mass.
The 84-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church is on the final day of a three-day visit to West Africa's Benin, where he unveiled a new document addressing the role of Catholicism in Africa.
'One hundred and fifty years ago the cross of Christ was raised in your country, and the Gospel was proclaimed for the first time,' the pontiff told the crowd, referring to the anniversary of the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries to Benin.
Many of those who poured into the 35,000-seat stadium were dressed in brightly-coloured shirts and dresses, woven of West African cloth depicting the pope's face.
Benedict addressed the crowd in the three most widely spoken official languages in Africa: French, English and Portuguese.
During a visit Saturday to the town of Ouidah, the spiritual home of voodooism, the pope discussed peace, reconciliation and how he felt Catholic doctrine could promote dialogue and foster forgiveness amidst regional conflict.
He also mentioned AIDS, referring to the virus an 'ethical issue' and calling for increased sexual abstinence to halt the spread of the disease.
He also addressed priests and seminarians in Ouidah, after delivering a prayer at the tomb of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.
Gantin, who was a close friend of the pontiff, was the highest-ranking sub-Saharan African in the Roman Catholic Church at the time of his death in 2008.

The visit is Benedict's second to Africa since he became pope in 2005.

 

 

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