BANGUI DECEMBER 1, 2015 (CISA) – Pope Francis on Monday November 31 called for an end to religious violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) saying that Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters. “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters.
Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace,” said the Pope during a visit to a mosque that is a refuge for Muslims fleeing violence.
“Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself,” he said in Latin, which was then translated into the local Sango language.
The Pope’s visit to the mosque in the capital’s Muslim quarter, known as PK5, was the conclusion of a six-day trip that also included Kenya and Uganda.
The PK5 enclave in Bangui is the last remaining Muslim community in the city, with 15,000 people and the pope traveled there in his open Popemobile, greeting crowds waiting for him along the side of the road.
At the mosque, the pope was greeted by the head imam as well as Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of the Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui. The pontiff said that the religiously motivated violence in the country “disfigures the face of God.”
On Sunday November 30, the Pope while celebrating Mass in Bangui called on fighting factions in the country to lay down their weapons and instead arm themselves “with justice, love, mercy and authentic peace” and further said he hoped next month’s election would open a “new chapter” for the country. About half of CAR’s population is Christian and 15% Muslim and according to the Vatican, Catholics make up about a third of the population.
The last elected head of state, President François Bozize, was overthrown in 2013. A transitional council chose Catherine Samba-Panza as interim president last year to oversee a return to democracy.