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Pope to visit Africa for first time

Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he will be making his first papal visit to Africa at the beginning of next year.
Benedict was giving his homily to close out the three-week gathering that had brought bishops from across the globe to the Vatican to discuss the bible when he surprisingly announced that he would be traveling to Cameroon in March and then possibly onto Angola, the Associated Press reports.
Benedict will travel to Cameroon in preparation for a bishops meeting to be held later in 2009 that will focus on Africa, Reuters reports.
Benedict said he then hopes to visit Angola, which will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of its evangelization.
The Associated Press reports that the Catholic Church has been experiencing growth in Africa and parts of Asia, a heartening trend in the face flagging faith in the modernized West.
This will be the 11th trip outside of Italy for the pope since he was elected in 2005, Reuters reports. Benedict has visited many European countries, Australia, the United States and Brazil in the past three years.
Although this will be Benedict's first trip to Africa, the Associated Press says that his predecessor Pope John Paul II visited Africa numerous times throughout his papacy.