ROME — Pope Francis begins a six-day trip to Africa Wednesday, visiting Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic. It will be his first visit to the continent, and in his own words, he’s going to spread Jesus’ “message of reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace.”
The pope will deliver 18 speeches and celebrate four open-air Masses. He’ll also meet religious and political leaders as well as local youths, and reach out to the underprivileged with visits to a slum and a refugee camp.
Considered Francis’ most dangerous trip so far, local authorities have been asserting that they’re doing everything possible to ensure his safety.
Joseph Nkaissery, Kenya’s interior minister, tweeted a message about the pope’s safety Monday:
Likewise, Polly Namaye, Uganda’s police spokeswoman, said Monday that the country has “integrated several security agencies including the army, intelligence services, prisons” to reinforce safety during the pope’s visit.
Security concerns still linger regarding the last stop of his tour, as the Central African Republic is currently embroiled in a civil conflict featuring clashes between the local Christian and Muslim communities.
Agence France-Presse reports that Catherine Samba Panza, acting president of the former French colony, is considering cutting the visit short to just a few hours in Bangui’s airport under the watchful gaze of UN peacekeepers.
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