Benin’s Bishops Want “objective, critical, constructive assessment” of President’s Tenure

Catholic Bishops in Benin with President Patrice Talon.

Catholic Church leaders in the West African nation of Benin have called on citizens to make an “objective, critical and constructive assessment” of President Patrice Talon’s mandate before presidential elections, which are slated to take place in April next year.

The call is in the collective statement of the member of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB) issued at the end of their four-day meeting that took place at Bishop Nicolas Okioh Pastoral Centre, Natitingou in Northwestern Benin this week.

In the Wednesday, October 21 statement, CEB members note that “Benin is currently moving towards the end of the President’s five-year mandate.”

The Bishops invite “the faithful, officials of political parties, and citizens in general to make an objective, critical and constructive assessment of this five-year term that is coming to an end.” 

They explain that such a thorough and honest assessment of President Talon “will allow everyone to approach the next elections … with the determination to work for the establishment of true democracy and for the integral development of Benin and its children.” 

Benin is scheduled to hold a presidential election on April 11, 2021. The incumbent, President Talon, is expected to run for a second term, with reports indicating that he could be the only candidate on the ballot.

“The Episcopal Conference of Benin is following with great interest deliberations concerning the organization of the forthcoming presidential elections,” the Bishops say in their message signed by CEB President, Bishop Victor Agbanou.

They add, “We strongly recommend that all the institutions involved in the organization of this election play their role in the spirit of the consensus inherited from the National Conference of February 1990, so that the next presidential elections are peaceful, truly inclusive and democratic.”

The October 18-21 Ordinary Plenary of CEB members began with Holy Mass to mark World Mission Sunday, which was presided over by CEB President, Bishop Agbanou, the Local Ordinary of Benin’s Lokossa Diocese.

In their October 21 collective statement, CEB members also bemoan the negative effects of the torrential rains that have devastated several localities, particularly in the Alibori Province. 

Early this month, over 7,000 people were displaced by flooding in the communities of Kandi, Karimama and Malanville in the Alibori Province of Northeastern Benin, according to media reports.

Six people died as a direct result of flooding in the area, and a further 23 water-related deaths were reported, including boating accidents.

According to the Bishops in Benin, these floods have caused “the loss of life, swept away crops and livestock in their furious waves, and left behind destitute and homeless populations.” 

They praise the compassion and generosity of all those who intervened “to restore hope to the people in these areas.”

In their collective message, CEB members also express their concerns about “the promotion and progressive introduction of homosexuality and sexual orientation as human rights in the legislations of the countries of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), through the renewal of bilateral and multilateral agreements in order to obtain international aid.”

“We urge the Government of Benin, religious denominations and members of the civil society to work in synergy for the respect of natural laws in the fear of God who will hold us accountable,” the Bishops say.

They go on to express their collective concerns about reportedly repeated cases of suicide, especially among the youth and remind the people of God in the West African nation that “human life is sacred and belongs to God from its conception to its natural end through death.” 

“We invite pastors at various levels to sensitize the faithful on the importance of respect for life and care for all human beings in distress,” the Prelates say.

Addressing themselves to the Lay faithful, the Bishops urge them “to take advantage of the various pastoral initiatives to deepen their life of faith and improve their knowledge of Christ, our Savior.”

The members of CEB also invite the faithful to recite “the special ‘Prayer for Benin’ at the end of each Mass, the Holy Rosary, the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel by Pope Leo XIII, and the Way of the Cross.”


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