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Pope will visit Central African Republic in November, bringing hope to war-torn nation

March 12, 2015

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A visit to the Central African Republic by Pope Francis this coming November will be “a sign of the goodness of God and a consolation” to the people of the war-torn country, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga told Aid to the Church in Need.

Vatican officials have informally confirmed that the Pope will travel to Africa in November, and the Central African Republic will be on his itinerary. The Pope himself had announced plans for the trip “toward the end of the year” during an interview session with journalists who accompanied him on his flight home from Manila to Rome in January.

Archbishop Nzapalainga reported that the vicious fighting that has plagued the Central African Republic has been halted, at least temporarily, by the intervention of a UN peacekeeping force. “The peace troops are like a doctor who has restored our country to the status of a convalescent.” But he said that the peace is fragile, and could collapse when UN forces pull out.

The civil war in the African country has been a conflict between two rebel groups, the archbishop said. “Both sides have committed terrible crimes, have murdered, raped, destroyed churches and mosques, and entire villages.” Although one group is predominantly Muslim and the other Christian, Archbishop Nzapalainga said that this was not a religious conflict. “Not a single religious leader, Christian or Mulsim, has in any way been active among the warring factions,” he observed.

Although the fighting has abated, normal life has not returned, the archbishop said. About 30,000 people are living in refugee camps in the capital city, with many thousands more seeking shelter in churches and mosques. “Many cannot return home, because their houses been destroyed. The children cannot get to school, while for the men and women there is no work.”

Archbishop Nzapalainga said that his task as a bishop is to “watch over his flock—the people of God—and give them hope.” He said that the Pope’s visit, and his message of hope, would “bring new strength to the people of the Central African Republic.”

 


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