20 Nov 2011

Reconciliation in Africa encouraged by Pope

6:17 am on 20 November 2011

Pope Benedict is to present plans by the Catholic church to encourage reconciliation in Africa, on the second day of his visit to the state of Benin.

The Pope travelled to the city of Ouidah, the symbolic heartland of Voodoo, where he was expected to call for respect for traditional beliefs but issue a warning against witchcraft.

Ouidah is home to one of the largest Catholic cathedrals in West Africa.

Large crowds greeted the Pontiff in the city.

Earlier, in the capital, Cotonou, on Friday before an audience of politicians, diplomats and church leaders, Benedict issued an appeal to Africa's leaders.

"Do not deprive your peoples of hope. Do not cut them off from their future," he said.

The Church's reconciliation plans are contained in a formal apostolic exhortation entitled The Pledge for Africa (Africae Munus in Latin), which the Pope will sign in Ouidah.

The document was drawn up two years ago at a meeting in Rome by Catholic bishops from all over Africa. It is intended to encourage reconciliation, peace and justice.

Pope Benedict is expected to call for elements of traditional cultures and religions to be recognised, if they are compatible with church teaching.

The BBC reports Voodoo is widely practised in Benin, where it has none of the negative connotations often associated with it in Western countries.