Monday, January 26, 2009

Seven Days in Africa

In this morning's dispatches, the Holy See rolled out the Pope's program for his March visit to Cameroon and Angola -- a seven day pilgrimage that'll mark B16's first journey to Africa.

Scheduled to depart Rome on 17 March, the seven-day trek will be evenly divided between the two West African countries, with the pontiff basing himself at the nunciatures in their respective capitals.

In Cameroon, Benedict will celebrate one public Mass and one Vespers in Yaoundé, meeting along the way with political leaders and the nation's hierarchy. The first leg will likewise include special encounters with both the "world of suffering" and the nation's Muslim community, who comprise over one-fifth of its population of 18 million -- after Christians, Cameroon's largest religious group.

Heading to Angola on the 20th, the Pope will celebrate two liturgies in its capital, Luanda -- the first dedicated to clergy, religious, catechists and members of the new ecclesial movements, and a larger, public Sunday celebration where he'll be joined by the bishops of Southern Africa. The Angola leg will feature public gatherings with young people and "Catholic movements promoting the dignity of women" -- the latter, a PopeTrip first.

All four major encounters -- the suffering, Muslims, the young and the women's movements -- will include papal addresses, as will separate meetings with the Cameroonian and Angolan bishops.

The longest journey of this pontificate to date in terms of public schedule, Benedict will return to Rome on Monday, 23 March.

PHOTO: Reuters