Pope condemns graft in Africa

2011-11-20 09:01

Ouidah - Pope Benedict XVI has labelled Aids an "ethical problem" and condemned corruption as he laid out a vision for his Church's future in Africa on his second visit to the continent.

Benedict signed off on a 135-page map for the Roman Catholic Church in Africa at a basilica in the Benin city of Ouidah, a centre of voodoo, with the Temple of Pythons and its 30-odd snakes just across the street.

He signed the document on his visit to Benin, a voodoo heartland and Catholic bastion where thousands have greeted him joyously since his arrival in the West African nation on Friday.

Around 30 voodoo followers were outside the Temple of Pythons as Benedict arrived at the basilica, many dressed in white and wearing fetish beads.

The document signed by Benedict - an apostolic exhortation called "The Pledge for Africa" containing conclusions from a 2009 synod of African bishops - includes peace, reconciliation and justice as its main message.

It calls for good governance, the abolition of the death penalty and denounces abuses, particularly against women and children, while describing Aids as a mainly ethical problem that requires a medical response.

Changes in behaviour are needed to combat the disease, including sexual abstinence and rejection of promiscuity, it adds.

The pope's comments on his first African trip to Cameroon and Angola in 2009 caused a global outcry when he suggested condom distribution aggravated the Aids problem.

He has since appeared to ease that stance, saying in a book published last year that condom use is acceptable "in certain cases," notably to reduce the risk of HIV infection.

In another speech Benedict denounced corruption, warning it could lead to violent upheaval, and called on African leaders not to rob citizens of hope.

"At this time, there are too many scandals and injustices, too much corruption and greed, too many errors and lies, too much violence which leads to misery and to death," he said at Benin's presidential palace.


Read more on:    pope benedict xvi  |  benin  |  west africa
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