It has been a whirlwind of a day for Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican officials. They are currently in the midst of the Holy Father's 22nd apostolic voyage, which is taking place in the small West African nation of Benin.
The Pope left Rome's Fiumicino Airport around 9:00am (Rome time). During the six-hour flight, he took the opportunity to answer several questions from reporters who were part of the press corps traveling with him.
He landed at Cotonou's Cardinal Bernardin Gantin International Airport at around 3:00pm, where he was greeted by the President of Benin, Yayi Boni. In a welcoming address to the nation, Pope Benedict touched upon the issue of modernity, as the country continues its transition from its traditional past.
"Modernity need not provoke fear, but neither can it be constructed by neglecting the past," he said. "It needs to be accompanied by prudence for the good of all in order to avoid the pitfalls which exist on the African continent and elsewhere, such as unconditional surrender to the law of the market or that of finance, nationalism or exaggerated and sterile tribalism which can become destructive, a politicization of interreligious tensions to the detriment of the common good, or finally the erosion of human, cultural, ethical and religious values."
"The transition to modernity must be guided by sure criteria based on recognized virtues," the Holy Father added, "which are listed in your national motto, but equally which are firmly rooted in the dignity of the person, the importance of the family and respect for life."
Immediately following the welcoming ceremony, the Pope made his way to Cotonou's Notre Dame des Apôtres Cathedral where he led a prayer service.
If you didn't have the chance to watch today's coverage, we will re-air the events this evening at 8:00pm ET / 5:00pm PT. You can also watch our Day 1 coverage online here. Throughout the weekend, S+L will be posting the events on our YouTube channel.
Credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring
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