Benin took a step toward becoming the 17th African state to abolish the death penalty, as Benedict XVI prepares to visit the nation in November.

On Aug. 19, Benin’s national assembly voted to join an international protocol that calls for the death penalty to be abolished. With the president’s ratification, it will be the 74th nation to join the agreement.

Benedict XVI will make a three-day visit to Benin in mid-November to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country’s evangelization and to deliver the apostolic exhortation from the 2009 synod on Africa.

PORTO NOVO, Benin, AUG. 29, 2011 (