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President of Equatorial Guinea Obiang Nguema Mbasogo inaugurates the Basilica of the Immaculate Conceptionposted by

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The President of the Republic, H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, accompanied by the First Lady, Constancia Mangue de Obiang, opened yesterday on the morning on December 7, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Mongomo. Present at the event were, among others, Francis Cardinal Arinze, envoy of Pope Benedict XVI.

The city of Mongomo yesterday dressed for the opening of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, patron saint of Equatorial Guinea. The event had over a thousand guests, among which we highlight the President of the Central African Republic Francois Bozize, the papal envoy Francis Cardinal Arinze, Antoinette Nguesso, wife of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Archbishop Piero Pioppo, Apostolic Nuncio of Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Gabon; Fadrique Melo de Menezes, President of Sao Tome and Principe and Henry Eyebe Ayissi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cameroon.

Also attending were members of the Government, headed by the Prime Minister and Head of Government, Ignacio Milam Tang, ambassadors and diplomatic corps, the chairman of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa, members of the clergy, leaders of political parties and civil and military authorities.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the President of the Republic gave a speech in which he recalled what the situation was like when he came to power, with “closure of churches and persecution of Christians, many of whom were forced into exile. With our arrival, we proceeded to the reopening of all the churches closed by the former regime. We proceeded to the release of prisoners and ecclesiastical activity regained its vigor and normality.”

Also, H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo referred to the trip of Pope John Paul II to the country, noting that the stop in Equatorial Guinea was not initially planned, but a subsequent invitation was accepted by the Pope, against the recommendations of his advisers: “Despite the difficulties and demands of the Vatican protocol services in February 1982, John Paul II spent eight hours in Equatorial Guinea. The Pope arrived at the airport in Malabo, kissed the earth and blessed our country with his hands raised high. The people were mobilized in a way that he was able to see that it was in our country where he was received with greatest fervor.”

Finally, he confirmed the excellent relations with the Vatican and thanked all attendees for their presence and the builders, for their expertise at the time of constructing the temple. He also thanked the people of Equatorial Guinea “for their faith and love for God, since thanks to them the Republic is what it is today.”

Inside the basilica, the religious ceremony took place, which was marked by great faith and was full of joy and happiness which was transmitted by the liturgical choirs that had come from Bata, Malabo, Gabon and Cameroon.

During the ceremony, they proceeded to the reception of holy relics and Monsignor Piero Pioppo read the decree number 1051/11/L of the Diocese of Ebebiyin, by which the Pope has raised this temple of the Immaculate Conception to the dignity of basilica. Then, they delivered to the President of the Republic and First Lady a present sent by the Pope.

The ceremony, which could be watched throughout the world through the technical means of RTVGE on its broadcast of the International Channel and the Internet, ended in an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood. The events continue today with the first mass and will close on Friday with a homily in honor of the deceased.

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