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Pope Benedict visits West Africa

November 18, 2011 - BENIN

Vatican Radio reports that Pope Benedict XVI will make a pilgrimage to Benin to mark the 150th anniversary of the Catholic church's evangelization of the West African country. It is the pope's second visit as pontiff to Africa, where the Catholic Church is growing faster than on any other continent, according to a Reuters report. He could be asked to explain his recent controversial pronouncement about condoms and AIDS. His last words on the subject in Africa caused a storm.

In Nov 2010, the pope said the use of condoms to prevent HIV/Aids may be morally justified. Some of the fiercest criticism of the new direction for the Catholic Church has come from Catholics. The comment has won significant support as well. It has been described as a breakthrough for efforts to fight the disease in Africa, giving health workers and clergy more scope to broach the still taboo subject. The pope made a first trip to Africa as pontiff when he visited Cameroon and Angola in 2009. He sparked a storm of criticism from around the world during that trip for saying that the use of condoms was complicating the fight against AIDS. Despite recent progress, the AIDS-causing virus HIV still afflicts 22.5 million Africans -;two-thirds of the world total.