.- Pope Benedict XVI urged the people of Benin to seek Jesus Christ through the intercession and example of his mother Mary.
“She shows us, with simplicity and with a mother’s heart, the one Light and Truth: her Son, Jesus Christ who leads humanity to its full realization in the Father,” said the Pope in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mercy in Benin’s largest city of Cotonou Nov. 18.
“Let us not be afraid to invoke, with confidence, her who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces.”
The cathedral visit was the Pope’s first stop after touching down in Benin. After arriving at the packed church, he prayed at the tombs of two previous bishops of Cotonou—Archbishop Christoph Adimou and Archbishop Isidore de Sousa.
He described them both as “heroic workers in the vineyard of the Lord,” and gave particular mention to Archbishop de Souza’s “decisive role” in helping the country’s transition from communism to democracy in 1991.
The Pope explained that often in the “salvation history” of both individuals and nations, “divine mercy” consists “not only in the remission of our sins” but also “the fact that God, our Father, redirects us, sometimes not without pain, affliction or fear on our part, to the path of truth and light, for he does not wish us to be lost.”
The model of how to respond to “the mystery of divine love,” he said, was the Virgin Mary since “by her yes to the call of God, she contributed to the manifestation of divine love in the midst of humanity.”
Thus, “she is the Mother of Mercy by her participation in the mission of her Son: she has received the privilege of being our helper always and everywhere.”
“Under the shelter of her mercy, deadened hearts are healed, the snares of the devil are thwarted and enemies are reconciled,” he said, adding that “in Mary, we have not only a model of perfection, but also one who helps us to realize communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.”
As “Mother of Mercy,” she is “a sure guide to the disciples of her son who wish to be of service to justice, to reconciliation and to peace.” Christians should “not be afraid to invoke, with confidence, her who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces.”
The Pope concluded by asking God for the help of “Our Lady of Africa,” that she may “intercede for Africa before your divine Son, and obtain for all of humanity salvation and peace!”
He then imparted his apostolic blessing before leading the congregation in the singing of the Marian anthem, the Salve Regina.