VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 10.20 a.m. today, the Holy Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport bound for Yaounde, Cameroon. Following a six-hour flight his plane is due to land at Nsimalen airport at around 4 p.m., thus beginning his first apostolic trip to Africa which will also include three days in the Angolan capital Luanda, from 20 to 22 March.
President Paul Biya of Cameroon will receive the Pontiff as he descends from his aircraft; after which the Pope will be greeted by Archbishop Simon-Victor Tonye Bakot of Yaounde, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, and by Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala. The civil and political authorities will also be present, as will members of the diplomatic corps, bishops of Cameroon, a group of faithful and a choir.
Following a speech by the president, Benedict XVI will pronounce the first address of this his eleventh apostolic trip outside Italy as Pontiff. The ceremony concluded, he will travel by popemobile to the apostolic nunciature in Yaounde where he will dine and spend the night.
Tomorrow morning, the Pope will celebrate a private Mass in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature before paying a courtesy visit to the president of the Republic of Cameroon. He will then go on to meet with the country's bishops in the church of Christ-Roi in Tsinga, Yaounde.
PV-CAMEROON/.../YAOUNDE VIS 20090317 (240)