Pope Francis asked to come to a church in a Muslim neighbourhood of the Central African Republic’s capital after it was reportedly attacked during sectarian violence.
After hearing of the alleged death of three youths yesterday morning in a neighbourhood of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, Pope Francis immediate asked, “Can I go (be with them)?”, according to a bishop who was standing close by.
However, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Franco Coppola, advised him against going, because of the threat of violence, according to Bishop Juan José Aguirre of Bangassou, south-east Central African Republic.
Bishop Aguirre told Spanish radio network COPE that he asked for prayers for the troubled nation after the reports of violence in the capital’s Fatima neighbourhood.
According to the Catholic News Agency, he explained that “this morning with all of the joy that there was in Bangui, with all of this overflowing joy… at 1.5 kilometers [from the place where Pope Francis ate with the bishops] three people were killed in the Fatima neighbourhood.”
“I was with the Holy Father and I told him: Holiness, this morning three people were killed in this barrio (neighbourhood) where there is a parish nearby, where there are three Comboni missionaries and 500 displaced persons.”
After hearing this, “the Pope immediately asked the Nuncio: ‘can I go, can I go?’ and the Nuncio replied: ‘no, Holiness, it is very dangerous.’”
According to reports, a youth was shot dead after Massgoers were fired on with a machine gun.
The church of Our Lady of Fatima parish in Bangui is run by the Comboni missionaries, and is located in a Muslim area where Pope Francis is scheduled to go tomorrow morning to visit the city’s most important mosque.
Today, the Pope’s last day in Africa, Francis is scheduled for a meeting with CAR’s Muslim community at the central Mosque of Koudoukou.