21 Nov 2011

Papal visit to African over

2:36 pm on 21 November 2011

Pope Benedict XVI has ended a three-day African trip with an open-air Mass at a stadium in Cotonou, Benin.

The liturgy was delivered in at least 10 African languages and also broadcast in St Peter's Square, Vatican City.

Many in the crowd were dressed in colourful robes emblazoned with the Pope's image.

The Pontiff urged them "to be attentive to the cry of the poor, the weak and the outcast" as well as "those affected by Aids or other illnesses".

The BBC reports his spiritual vision for Africa - contained in a formal treatise - has been called a "papal road map" for the continent.

It applies doctrines like turning the other cheek and forgiveness to try to address the conflicts in Africa, such as those fuelled by ethnic divisions.

It also calls for good governance and abolition of the death penalty and condemns abuse of women and children.

The document was drawn up two years ago at a meeting in Rome by Catholic bishops from all over Africa.

The rise of Catholicism in Africa is in sharp contrast to Europe, which has seen a steep fall in the number of active faithful.