(28 May 10 – RV) Pope Benedict received Letters of Credence from the new Ambassador
to the Holy See from Benin.
Bordered by Togo to the West, Nigeria to the
East, and Burkina Faso and Niger to the North, Benin is a small country of just under
9 million people, roughly 43% of whom are Catholic. Catholicism is the largest single
religious denomination in Benin, though there are several Protestant ecclesial communities
present as well as a sizeable Muslim minority. The People of Benin produce cotton
and practice subsistence agriculture, as well, with 1/3 of the population living below
the international poverty line.
In his remarks to the new ambassador, Comlanvi
Théodore Loko, who is the first resident chief of mission from his country, Pope Benedict
noted with pleasure the desire of Benin to have a resident ambassador to the Holy
See, saying this decision underlines the excellent relationship between the Republic
of Benin and the Holy See and the high esteem, which the people of Benin and the Catholic
Church share with each other.
The Holy Father also praised the efforts
of the people of Benin toward building society on the foundations of justice and peace,
in recognition of the rights of all members of the nation, which have been underway
since the country emerged from Marxist rule in 1990.
Pope Benedict also
praised the efforts of Benin to reach out in a spirit of solidarity with other members
of the international community, especially expressing his thanks to all the people
of Benin for the active brotherhood that they demonstrated for the Haitian people
during the recent earthquake.
The Holy Father also said he welcomes efforts
by all people, and especially authorities, to consolidate relations of respect and
esteem among the various religious denominations in Benin.
he said, can only help to enrich democracy and promote development.