VATICAN: President of Central African Republic meets Pope Francis; Thanks Him for Visit

VATICAN CITY APRIL 19, 2016 (CISA) – The President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadéra on Monday April 18 visited Pope Francis at the Vatican.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, President Touadéra who became president on March 2016, said that his visit to Pope Francis was to thank him personally on behalf of all the people of Central African Republic.

“I came to say thank you to Pope Francis for the great and courageous honour he accorded us by visiting CAR. He visited us during a tough period,”he said.

CAR’s President also noted that peace and reconciliation, in his country, needed to go hand in hand with “Disarming, demobilisation and the reintegration of some of the armed groups into one national and neutral defence force,” “The Pope gave us hope for peace.

The significant and historical gesture of opening the Holy Door of Mercy in Bangui is something that we will never forget. He not only officially opened the Holy Door of Mercy; he also opened, as it were, the door to a new era in our country,” President Touadéra told Vatican Radio.

A statement issued by the Holy See after the Monday meeting stated that the discussions between President Touadéra and Pope Francis were both cordial and warm.

The communiqué said it was clear that the recent electoral process and the renovation of the country’s institutions were taking place in a constructive climate.

“At the same time, it emerged that the consequences of the conflicts of recent years continue to weigh upon the population, and the important role of the international community in supporting the development of the country was emphasised,” read part of the statement.

Finally, the communiqué expressed appreciation for the contribution of the Catholic Church and its pastors to the well being of society in the CAR, especially in the fields of education, health care, reconciliation and national reconstruction.

While in Rome, President Touadéra held talks with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva. The talks focused on rebuilding the country’s agriculture sector and making it an engine for peace and sustainable development.

FAO says years of conflict and political instability have hampered agricultural activities on which nearly 75 percent of the country’s population rely on food for income. Some 1.3 million people in the Central African Republic are severely food insecure.

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