Despite even more protective security than normal, given he was visiting an active war-zone, Pope Francis was not deterred from making a brief, unscheduled stop at a children’s hospital in Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui, reported Vatican Radio.
During the visit last night, the Pope met with some of the young patients and staff, and delivered to them several boxes of medicines for the children there, provided by Rome’s “Bambino Gesu” pediatric hospital.
Pope Francis’ visit to Africa concludes today, after a busy morning of meeting with Muslims in Bangui’s Central Mosque, followed by a Mass marking the feast of St. Andrew in the city’s sports stadium. The Holy Father is due to arrive back in Rome shortly before seven o’clock tonight.
The Central African Republic, which gained independence from France in 1960, is one of the poorest nations in the world. It has been plagued by ethnic and religious violence over the past two years. Tens of thousands have been forced to flee the country to neighboring nations due to this war between majority Muslim Séléka forces and the majority Christian anti-Balaka. The United Nations has warned that there was high risk of the country descending into genocide.
Pope Francis’ visit to Kenya, Uganda, and Central African Republic, marks his 11th international trip and his first visit to the continent. (D.C.L.)