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Pope to meet with Muslims, Mass in stadium

 In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI touches a stuffed lion during his meeting with Cameroon's Pre...
 In this photo made available by Vatican neswpaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI is greeted after he celebrated a Vesper ceremony in the "Mari...
 Pope Benedict XVI leaves on his popemobile after he celebrated a Vesper ceremony in the "Marie Reigne des Apotres", basilica, in Yaounde , Cameroon, ...

CAMEROON POPE

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI touches a stuffed lion during his meeting with Cameroon's Pre...

CAMEROON POPE

In this photo made available by Vatican neswpaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI is greeted after he celebrated a Vesper ceremony in the "Mari...

APTOPIX CAMEROON POPE

Pope Benedict XVI leaves on his popemobile after he celebrated a Vesper ceremony in the "Marie Reigne des Apotres", basilica, in Yaounde , Cameroon, ...

Pope Benedict XVI meets with representatives of Cameroon's sizable Muslim minority Thursday shortly before celebrating Mass for thousands of faithful from Africa's expanding, vibrant Catholic flock in the capital's football stadium.
The morning meeting with Muslim representatives at the Apostolic Nunciature, where Benedict has been lodging on his first African pilgrimage as pope, is closed to the public. The pope is expected to greet the participants with a brief speech.
Muslims make up some 22 percent of Cameroon's population; Roman Catholics account for 27 percent of the West African nation's people. Animists account for some 27 percent, while Protestants make up 18 percent.
Christians and Muslims largely coexist without problems in Cameroon.
Benedict, as did his predecessor John Paul, has set aside time in his various foreign pilgrimages to meet with, or at least greet, representatives from various Christian communities as well as non-Christians.
Yaounde's Amadou Ahidjo stadium holds 40,000 people.
Benedict's open-air Mass will be his first occasion as pope to be among a great crowd of faithful on the continent, which is witnessing the church's biggest growth.
His homily is expected to touch on African issues. Before the visit, Benedict said he was traveling in Africa as a pilgrimage of peace, in hopes of inspiring faithful to work for social justice and fight the hunger and disease which affliction millions on the continent.
Since stepping off the papal plane on Tuesday, attention to Benedict's pilgrimage has been largely focused on the Vatican's refusal to advocate condoms as a way to help stop the spread of AIDS, which is pandemic in Africa.
On Wednesday, France and Germany sharply criticized Benedict's declaration aboard the papal plane that distributing condoms "increases" the AIDS problem. The French foreign ministry said the statement could "endanger public health policies and the imperative to protect human life."
Two German ministers said on Benedict's first full day as pope in Africa, a continent ravaged by HIV, that it was irresponsible to reject condoms. The U.N. agency charged with fighting AIDS also spoke out in favor of condom use.
Benedict told reporters on his flight Tuesday to Cameroon that a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease, not the distribution of condoms.
Also on Wednesday, Benedict met with Cameroon President Paul Biya, one of Africa's longest-ruling strongmen. Biya has been in power since 1982 and recently was accused by Amnesty International of seeking to crush political opposition.
No details of the meeting at the presidential palace were given. Local churchmen have spoken out against human rights abuses and the newspaper Le Jour carried a front-page interview with Cameroon Cardinal Christian Tumi asking Biya not to run again in 2011.


Updated : 2021-10-19 03:20 GMT+08:00