Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

WEB NEWS

NSA targets 'Tor' network users

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users call for peace in Gaza

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French government hopes to collect €1.8bn from foreign accounts

Read more

  • Video: Slaviansk mourns mass grave victims

    Read more

  • Thousands gather in Marseille in support of Israel

    Read more

  • Liberia tightens border controls to curb Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • Video: Ethiopia turns to wine to boost image, economy

    Read more

  • As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

    Read more

  • The centenary of Austria-Hungary’s calamitous last hurrah

    Read more

  • France honours those lost on Air Algérie Flight AH5017

    Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • Nibali joins elite group with Tour de France win

    Read more

  • France calls on its nationals to leave Libya as violence escalates

    Read more

  • Boko Haram kidnap Cameroon minister's wife in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr festival

    Read more

  • ‘Irresponsible’ American dad tries to scale Mont Blanc with children

    Read more

  • Ukraine fighting prevents observers from accessing MH17 crash site

    Read more

  • In pictures: Crowds flock to enjoy the Tour de France show

    Read more

  • Netanyahu says Hamas 'violating its own ceasefire'

    Read more

  • Video: At the scene of the Air Algérie crash in Mali

    Read more

  • Costa Concordia arrives in port of Genoa to be scrapped

    Read more

  • In pictures: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest

    Read more

  • Russia lashes out at new EU sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

    Read more

  • Syrian army and ISIS both claim advances

    Read more

  • Briton kidnapped in Yemen freed after five months

    Read more

  • New round of Gaza ceasefire talks takes place in Paris

    Read more

Africa

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Benin

Video by Katharyn GILLAM

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-18

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Benin, West Africa, Friday where he was greeted by Catholics carrying umbrellas carved with his image. The number of Catholics in Benin, the heartland of the voodoo tradition, has grown by nearly half in the past decade.

AP - Catholics carrying umbrellas decorated with Pope Benedict XVI's image greeted him Friday as he embarked on his second trip to Africa, where he plans to outline the church's future for the continent with the fastest growing number of faithful.

Even in Benin, the heartland of the voodoo tradition, the number of Catholics has grown by nearly half in the past decade, adding more than half-a-million converts at the same time when congregations are declining in Europe.

Several hundred women lined the tarmac awaiting his arrival, wearing dresses with his face on them. Supporters from each parish wore a different colour headscarf, blue, green, red and yellow. The faithful used umbrellas and even pieces of paper to shield their faces from the blazing sun as temperatures reached 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

At the cathedral where the 84-year-old pope was to speak later Friday, schoolchildren in their uniforms lined the sidewalks in anticipation. The pope has arrived on Africa's western coast with a document that will attempt to use church doctrine as a kind of pastoral guide for the faithful.

The guide is aimed at addressing the ills of a continent whose progress has been routinely derailed by war. ``May this document fall into the ground and take root, grow and bear much fruit,'' the pope said upon arrival.

The guide is based in part on the 57 recommendations of the 2009 synod held in Cameroon's capital, where bishops met to articulate the church's role in Africa.

Among the recommendations is a “sacrament of reconciliation'' which will use the church's dogma of forgiveness as a tool to try to resolve violence. In remote parts of Africa where there are no courts and no police force, communities have often created their own rituals of reconciliation.

One of the proposals that may be included in the papal document is to do an in-depth study of these practices in order to try to learn from them.

Priests who have traveled from neighboring countries to see the pope say that the idea of looking to African traditions shows that the Catholic faith has become more supple since colonial times, when becoming Christian meant turning your back on tradition.

Cameroonian priest Fr. Jean Benoit Nlend says that among his country's Bassa people, numerous rituals have been created to deal with life's conflicts. If a man beats his wife and she returns to her parent's home, the husband can only get her back if he comes with plates of food, and negotiates a cash amount to be paid to her kin in reparation.

“In my seminary in Cameroon, we went around the table and talked about the types of rituals our ancestors performed to fix problems that arose in the society. If you try to destroy these things, you render the people fragile. You take away their moral coordinates,'' said Nlend, an editor at Cameroon's Episcopalian publication.

“Catholicism is a much more supple religion now than it once was. The church shouldn't try to chase away African culture. What it needs to do is act like a sieve, and remove only the things that don't help human beings evolve.” he said.

Because of this more supple attitude toward African culture, Catholicism is booming on the continent. Africa has become the world's feeder church, said Catholic scholar Lamin Sanneh, a Yale Divinity School professor who is from the African nation of Gambia.

``Europe is now looking to Africa to replenish its churches. In France, the most famous Catholic seminary has more priests in training from Africa than from all of Europe,'' said Sanneh, who is himself a native of Gambia, a small nation north of Benin.

Fr. Andre Quenum, the publisher of main Catholic weekly in Benin, says Africans have been particularly drawn to the church's teachings because of the poverty and violence that have wracked the continent.

"One of the consequences of modernity in Europe is that people have been able to solve many of the problems of daily life. If you fall sick you can go to a clinic,'' he said. ``Here when you get sick, you could very well die. So we put our problems in God's hands,'' he said. ``And this is where the pope has seen our potential.''

To prepare for the pope's visit, parishes throughout the country were given a special prayer asking for reconciliation. ”Our father, you have created man and woman in your image,” says the text of the prayer.

“But they distance themselves from you by their tribal divisions, their violence, and their wars. May the visit of Pope Benedict XVI create in us the desire to reconcile ourselves.”

The government of Benin also issued public service announcements encouraging people to clean up the city ahead of the pope's arrival. One billboard showed a picture of the pope, next to three suggestions: Sweep your street, pick up garbage and repaint your house. On state television, an entire segment was dedicated to showing how a local church had revarnished their pews.

In Ouidah, nuns were working around the clock putting the finishing touches on the chapel housing the tomb of a cardinal that was a personal friend of Benedict's. The pontiff is expected to pray there on Saturday.

On the tiled floor was a pile of pastel-colored bows, the kind you might use to decorate a present. The nuns were instead taping the pink bows to each of the chapel's columns.

Date created : 2011-11-18

  • SPAIN

    Pope Benedict XVI urges young Catholics to spread faith

    Read more

  • VATICAN

    Pope says condom use allowed 'in certain cases'

    Read more

  • VATICAN

    Pope's condom remark 'doesn't change' contraception ban

    Read more

COMMENT(S)