Pope Receives Benin Ambassador


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(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.

Religious freedom, he said, can only help to enrich democracy and promote development.