Peacemaking In Central Africa

A boy walks with an umbrella during a shower in Bambari, Central African Republic, Oct. 17. Faith leaders there hope Pope Francis' November visit will help with the peace process. (CNS photo/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)

Religious leaders in the Central African Republic have predicted that the pope’s upcoming visit could reconcile opposing factions, three years after a Muslim-led rebellion plunged the country into civil war. “This will be a key event for all Central Africans, whatever their religious affiliations,” said Imam Omar Kobine Layama, president of the Islamic Council, on Oct. 22. “We’re hoping the Holy Father will bring a clear message about the unity of believers, interfaith dialogue, human rights and peace, which could really liberate us and help rebuild social links the various armed groups have destroyed.” Pope Francis will visit the capital, Bangui, on Nov. 29-30, after visiting Kenya and Uganda. Included in his itinerary is a meeting with Muslims in the city’s central Koudoukou mosque. The imam said Muslim leaders had asked Pope Francis to call on rebel groups to give up their weapons after U.N.-sponsored disarmament efforts had failed “to get the message across.”

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