Pope Benedict XVI has made an impassioned plea to Africa's leaders to stop depriving their people of hope.
The pope made his comments during a meeting with the ruling elite of Benin, a country that has provided a rare example of functioning democracy in the region.
"From this place, I launch an appeal to all political and economic leaders of African countries," Benedict said.
"Do not deprive your people of hope. Do not cut them off from their future by mutilating their present. Adopt a courageous, ethical approach to your responsibilities."
The highlight of the three-day visit is the unveiling of a document outlining the role of the church in Africa - planned for later. The thrust of the document explains how church doctrine can be used to address the continent's ills.
The 84-year-old pope returned for the second time to Africa, the most rapidly growing region for the Roman Catholic Church. His first trip two years ago was derailed before he even set foot in Africa, after he told reporters on the papal plane that the use of condoms exacerbates the problem of Aids.
On this visit, he is steering clear of the sensitive issue in order to highlight a message he had tried to deliver in Cameroon two years ago.
The 87-page document, he is unveiling later, outlines the role of the church on a continent that has been shattered by war and whose people are deeply impoverished due in part to the corruption of their leaders.
The thrust of the document is centred on how church doctrine, such as the principles of penance and forgiveness, can be used to help people stop the cycle of retribution.