Pope Francis left Africa today shortly after noon local time, completing his six-day apostolic visit to the “continent of hope,” after having given some 20 discourses and homilies in three nations.
One of his last activities was among the most significant: a visit to a mosque in war-torn Central African Republic. His stop in this country marked the first time in modern history that a Pontiff visits a conflict zone.
He exhorted Central Africans to work for peace, saying that “peace is not a document that is signed and then put up some place. Peace is made each day. Peace is a craft, a handiwork. It’s made with the hands.”
As well, he gave Central Africans an extra few days of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, opening the Holy Door in Bangui’s Cathedral on Sunday. (For the rest of the universal Church, the Jubilee starts Dec. 8).
The Pope also visited a pediatric hospital, bringing a box of medicines from Rome. He brought consolation to a refugee camp in CAR. He called on the world to learn from the poor, not just pity them, in a visit to a Kenyan slum. He thanked religious for their care of the disabled after visiting a charity home in Uganda. He added his voice to Jesus’ prayer for Christian unity in a stop with an evangelical community in Bangui.
And in message after message, he asked Africa, and the world, to learn from and follow Christ.
Here are a few lines from his various discourses:
Nov. 30, Homily: Each of us, in his or her heart can ask the crucial question of where we stand with Jesus, asking what we have already accepted – or refused to accept – in responding to his call to follow him more closely.
Nov. 29, Homily: Even when the powers of Hell are unleashed, Christians must rise to the summons, their heads held high, and be ready to brave blows in this battle over which God will have the last word. And that word will be love [and peace]!
Nov. 29, Address to evangelical community: God makes no distinctions between those who suffer. I have often called this the ecumenism of blood. All our communities suffer indiscriminately as a result of injustice and the blind hatred unleashed by the devil.
Nov. 28, Address to Ugandan youth: This isn’t magic. This is the work of Jesus. Because Jesus is Lord. Jesus can do everything. And Jesus suffered the most negative experience in history. He was insulted, he was rejected, he was killed. And Jesus, by the power of God, rose again. He can do the same thing in each one of us with each negative experience. Because Jesus is Lord.
Nov. 27, Address to Kenyan youth: Life is full of difficulties, but there are two ways of looking at difficulties: either a person looks at them as something that blocks him, destroys him, stops him, or he looks at them as an opportunity. It is for you to choose.
Nov. 26, Address at Africa headquarters of UN: In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.
Nov. 26, To journalists, on flight to Kenya: Be careful of the mosquitos!