We must work and pray and do everything for peace. The Holy Father gave this exortion when speaking off-the-cuff to the St. Sauveur Refugee Camp in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui, after saying he had read the signs of the children present displaying the words ‘peace,’ ‘forgiveness,’ ‘unity,’ and ‘love.’
Pope Francis arrived in the Central African Republic this morning. His first stop was the courtesy visit to the presidential palace, which he traveled much of the way to in an open popemobile, and was followed by this visit to this camp, which houses nearly 4,000 people displaced by the violence.
There was speculation that this leg of the visit would be canceled due to security concerns. 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.
While it is evident that the security for this leg of Francis’ three-nation Apostolic Visit is far greater than that we’ve seen for other trips,these concerns did not deter the Holy Father from going to the war-plagued nation, nor from visiting this refugee camp and making some strong statements.
On ZENIT’s Web page