Due to security concerns, the Pope’s chief bodyguard is doing an unusual last-minute visit to conflict-wrecked Central African Republic.
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said the Vatican is going ahead with the Pope’s busy programme in the capital city Bangui, which includes a visit to the main mosque, attending an inter-faith meeting with Catholic, Evangelical and Muslim representatives, celebrating Mass and going to an evening prayer vigil. He added the Paris attacks hadn’t changed the itinerary.
Nevertheless, Francis’s bodyguard, Domenico Giani, is leaving early for Bangui to survey the security situation, and will only join the papal delegation once the Pope arrives in Nairobi on Wednesday for the start of the visit, Fr Lombardi said.
“We’re following the situation, and will take decisions that can be necessary if there’s something unforeseen or unusual,” Fr Lombardi said. “But we’re going ahead with the plan, which includes the Central African Republic.”
He said the Pope firmly believes that he can contribute to the pacification of the country, and encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims, “with his presence, his words and his prayers.”
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