People cheer as Pope Benedict leaves in his popemobile after celebrating mass at the stadium in Cotonou, Benin, Nov. 20.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

People cheer as Pope Benedict leaves in his popemobile after celebrating mass at the stadium in Cotonou, Benin, Nov. 20.

November 28, 2011
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

COTONOU, BENIN – On a three-day visit to Benin, Pope Benedict urged African Catholics to make the Church a model of reconciliation for the entire continent.

The Church must be "attentive to the cry of the poor, the weak, the outcast," the pope said at an outdoor Mass Nov. 20.

The Church, he said, must make a special effort to reach those "whose faith is weak" and who think selfish satisfaction and easy gain is the goal of human life.

The pope came to Africa to unveil a document, Africae Munus (The Commitment of Africa), that outlined pastoral strategies and urged Catholics to become "apostles of reconciliation, justice and peace."

The document said the Church should lead the way in promoting respect for human dignity and life at every stage. It should fight against economic imbalance and environmental degradation, provide health care to those with AIDS and other diseases, educate the young and reconcile human hearts in places of ethnic tension.

In a brief talk, the pope cautioned the global community against viewing Africa solely as a place of problems and failures.

"It is tempting to point to what does not work; it is easy to assume the judgmental tone of the moralizer or of the expert who imposes his conclusions and proposes, at the end of the day, few useful solutions."