Pope caps Benin trip, warns West against condescending attitude to Africa

November 20, 2011

(Pope Benedict XVI (L) is surrounded by children as he arrives during his visit to foyer "Paix et Joie" at the St. Rita church in Cotonou during his pastoral visit in Benin November 19, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Pope Benedict celebrated a big open-air Mass on Sunday, capping a trip to Africa where he appealed to leaders to serve their people honestly and to developed nations to shun a condescending, know-it-all attitude towards the continent.

The crowd of some 50,000 people in Cotonou’s Friendship Stadium in the largest city of Benin went wild as the pope entered. His reception in the West African country has been by far one of the most exuberant on all of his 22 foreign trips.

The crowd, many dressed in colourful robes and dresses emblazoned with his picture, danced and swayed as they chanted in the local Fon language and French.

In his homily in French, the pope urged his listeners “to be attentive to the cry of the poor, the weak and the outcast” and sent a special greeting “those affected by AIDS or other illnesses, to all those forgotten by society”.

The 84-year-old German pope has held up well on the three-day trip despite the heat and high humidity. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pontiff’s health was fine.
Read the full story here. See also:

— Pope says West should not condescend to Africa?
— Don’t put all trust in markets, pope tells Africa?

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