Pope condemns religious animosity in CAR

Pope Francis doing his trademark wave to Kenyans welcoming and entertaining him at the airport

Pope Francis doing his trademark wave to Kenyans welcoming and entertaining him at the airport

Pope Francis have denounced religion-motivated conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR) telling Christians and Muslims that they are brothers and sisters.

While visiting the Grand Koudoukou mosque in the capital Bangui, Pope Francis called on Christians and Muslims to embrace reconciliation and peace.

The Pope urged warring parties to “lay down the weapons of death”. Visiting thousands of displaced women and children at camp in Bangui, the pope said “Work, pray, do everything for peace. But remember, peace without love, friendship and tolerance is nothing,”

The camp is home to more than 400 thousand people who have been by conflict.

Central African Republic (CAR) has been devastated by the civil war that broke out in 2013 after Muslim Seleka rebels briefly seized power and mounted deadly crackdown on Christian churches and communities.

The United Nations has since deployed a peacekeeping force in the country but the conflict hasn’t let up.

Ahead of the pope’s visit to the country, there have been reports of security concerns and the possibility of the trip being cancelled or cut short altogether. Sources say the Pope was heavily guarded by armed security detail including overhead choppers to ensure safety of the leader of the Catholic Church.

Before visiting Central African Republic (CAR), Pope Francis first went to Kenya and Uganda where he preached the message of reconciliation and tolerance and the need for politicians exercise transparency in their day-to-day duties.

In Uganda, the Pope spoke thousands of young people in Kampala urging them to turn to faith and prayer in times of difficulty.

Witnesses say the Pope’s message of reconciliation and peace resonated with some Muslim rebels who showed up to the Pope-led mass wearing T-shirts with Pope Francis’ Image.

On this trip, the Pope has also called on the authorities to address poverty as it contributes to global conflicts and violence.

The Pope has departed CAR bound for Vatican concluding his 5-day maiden Africa tour.