Pope Francis issues ‘peace’ messages for African trip

Vatican city, Nov 24 (IANS/AKI) Pope Francis in a video sent message of “peace, reconciliation, dialogue” to Kenya, Uganda and the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), ahead of a visit to the three nations beginning on Wednesday.

“Your dear country has for too long known violence and insecurity of which many of you are innocent victims,” Pope Francis said in a video message to CAR’s citizens “irrespective of ethnicity or religion”.

“I hope with all my heart that my visit will help heal your wounds and open the way to a more peaceful future for CAR and all its inhabitants,” the Pope stated.

One of his last engagements before he returns to Rome on November 30 is a visit to Bangui’s Central Mosque for a meeting with the Muslim community, Vatican Radio reported.

“I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace,” Pope Francis said in separate message to the people of Kenya and Uganda.

“We are living at a time when religious believers, and persons of good will everywhere, are called to foster mutual understanding and respect,” he added.

The Pope’s six-day visit to Africa comes amid heightened security fears following the Islamist militant attack on Friday on a hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako that left at least 27 people dead, including 13 foreigners.

A Vatican telegram at the weekend said the Pope “strongly condemned” the Mali attacks, which were claimed by two groups, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Murabitoun and the Macina Liberation Front, which has been blamed for attacks in southern Mali.

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