Taking the message of peace to a war zone comes at a price; you may need to be more cautious than ever. So was Pope Francis’s journey to Central Africa Republic where Human Rights Watch say 100 people have been killed in clashes since late September. His holiness was protected by the heaviest security ever seen on his apostolic journeys.
Pope Francis left Entebbe, Uganda for Bangui, CAR on Sunday. He paid a courtesy visit to the President of the State of Transition in the central African country where there is bloodshed between Christians and Muslims. The leader of the Catholic church worldwide preached reconciliation.
“I come as a pilgrim of peace and an apostle of hope,” he said at a meeting with the country’s leadership and the diplomatic corps.
He reminded them of CAR’s motto: Unity-Dignity-Labour. “Today, more than ever, this trilogy expresses the aspirations of each Central African. Consequently, it is a sure compass for the authorities called to guide the destiny of the country. Unity, dignity, labour! Three very significant words, each of which represents as much a building project as a unending programme, something to be ceaselessly crafted.”
The pope also visited a refugee camp and, among other meetings, met with the Bishops of the Central African Republic where about a quarter of the total population are Catholics.
He holds a vigil tonight ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with the Muslim Community in the central Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui.