Last Sunday, while addressing the crowds in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis indicated that his planned visit to the Central African Republic on 28-29 Nov might be cancelled if violence between Christians and Muslims in the capital Bangui escalates. Despite the presence of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers, eleven people were killed last week, including three negotiators for the Muslim Seleka alliance visiting Bangui for peace talks. Although the Pope still hopes the visit will go ahead as planned, a senior Vatican source said “If the situation worsens, he will not be able to go and he is aware of that,”
The Pope is scheduled to visit a mosque in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoodsof Bangui in the Central African Republic as part of his itinerary on a visit to Africa that will also include Uganda and Kenya. U.N. peacekeepers (MINUSCA) will be involved in protecting the pope if the visit to the Central African Republic goes ahead..
Appeal from Pope Francis after the Angelus on 2 November:
“Dear brothers and sisters, the painful events of recent days, which have made the difficult situation in the Central African Republic worse, have caused me great concern.
I appeal to the parties involved to stop this cycle of violence.
I am spiritually close to the Comboni Fathers of the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Bangui, who are sheltering many displaced families.
I express my solidarity to the Church, those of other religions and with all the people of the Central African Republic, who have been hit hard when we are making every effort to overcome divisions and return to the path of peace.
To manifest the closeness and prayer of the whole Church for this afflicted and tormented nation, and to urge all Central Africans to be more and more witnesses of mercy and reconciliation, Sunday, November 29 I intend to open the Holy Door of the Cathedral in Bangui, during the Apostolic Journey which I hope to carry out in this country”.