(12 Jan 07 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI met on Saturady with the President of Benin, Thomas
Yayi Boni. We have this report...
Benin is a
small French-speaking west African country between Togo and Nigeria. Although poor,
it is considered a model for the rest of the region politically, having run successful
multi-party elections in 2006. The winner of that contest, Thomas Yayi Boni met with
Pope Benedict in the Vatican Saturday morning.
A communiqué issued by the Holy
See Press Office said the two spoke about the difficult economic situation of the
small West African country, which has only gotten worse due to heavy flooding last
The President also thanked the Holy Father for the significant contributions
made by the Catholic Church in the development of the country in teaching, health
and the promotion of humanity.
The president is a Christian in a country where
the many of the people follow local religions, although Christians make up over 30%
of the country’s nearly 8 million people – the majority of these Catholics.
meeting the Holy Father President Boni came to the studios of Vatican Radio, where
he said that religious faith is the most important thing in his country.
He said Benin is a country that has long been in harmony with God,
because a nation which turns away from God will be ruined, be it Benin or any other
nation. He said this is the reason that he felt it was important to come to the See
of Peter and transmit the good will of the country.
The president admitted
that some ask if this religiosity interferes with the government, but he emphasized
that the Republic is secular.
But he says this does not change the fact the
people of Benin believe in God, and that without God nothing is possible, as is clear
from the messages from the See of Peter.
President Boni says the Republic of
Benin has made its choice in this regard, and as a people who try to bring this message
to others, the people of Benin in return receive blessings from God.