Pope Francis, who received a rapturous public response on his recent American tour, is preparing for his next big mission: His first official visit to Africa.
The pontiff has planned a three-country swing through Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic (CAR) later this month. If he makes the trip to CAR as scheduled — a resurgence in violence has thrown the visit into question — it is believed it would be the first time in the modern era that a pontiff has visited an active war zone.
Unlike in other parts of the world, Catholicism is growing in popularity in Africa. The continent is home to about 16 percent of the world’s Catholics — double the number of a few decades ago. In central African countries, Catholics account for about half the total population.
…Whether Pope Francis visits CAR at the end of his trip (and whether the country’s upcoming elections go ahead as planned) depends on if there is peace.
CAR, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has been in turmoil since President Francois Bozize was ousted in a 2013 coup, followed by months of violence between mainly Muslim rebels and Christian-backed militias.. In recent days there have been fresh reports of violence in the capital Bangui, with hundreds of people fleeing their homes and renewed killings between Christians and Muslims.
During prayers at St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope expressed “strong worry” for the “painful episodes of the past days that have worsened the situation in Central African Republic,” according to Vatican Radio.
Pope Francis May Become First Pope in Decades to Visit an Active War Zone
Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/04/15
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