Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing upon arrival in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican to hold a pre-trip prayer service for the Catholic faithful, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011. The pontiff has invited Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims to a pilgrimmage to the Umbrian hilltop town of Assisi, central Italy, where 25 years ago Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama and others spent the day praying for peace amid the Cold War. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict says his pilgrimage to the tiny
country of Benin this week is aimed at bolstering faith and hope in Africa.
Benedict leaves Friday on a three-day trip to the west African nation. Speaking in French to pilgrims Sunday in St. Peter's Square, Benedict said he is making the journey to "reaffirm the faith and hope of the Christians of Africa."
Benedict asked for prayers for both his pilgrimage and the people of Africa, especially those who suffer from violence and lack of security.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)