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Pope Francis arrives in the Central African Republic

Bangui: November 29, 2015. (VR) Pope Francis arrived in the Central African Republic on the morning of Sunday 29th of November on the last leg of his Apostolic journey to Africa, his 11th abroad.
A journey which marks his first to this continent and which has taken him to Kenya and Uganda.

In the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui, Pope Francis will accomplish an historic gesture by opening the Holy Door of the cathedral in this city nine days before the inauguration of the Jubilee of Mercy on the 8th of December in the Vatican.

A symbolic gesture given the nation’s gruesome reality of ethnic and religious violence over the past two years which has pitted the majority Muslim Séléka forces against the majority Christian anti- Balaka forces. A situation which led to tens of thousands of people fleeing into neighbouring countries. And as brutal atrocities were reported on both sides the United Nations warned that there was high risk of the country descending into genocide.

For a long time the organizers of this visit of Pope Francis were uncertain whether they would have to cancel the visit to this nation for fear of lack of security. For the record the nation gained independence from France in 1960 and is one of the poorest in the world despite the wealth of agricultural, water and mineral resources, including uranium reserves, gold, timber and diamond industries.

Among the other highlights of the visit of Pope Francis on Sunday in Bangui are a meeting with the local authorities and the diplomatic corps, a visit to the St Sauveur refugee camp, a private encounter with the Bishops of the nation, a meeting with the local evangelical communities and a prayer vigil at the Cathedral following the opening of the holy door.