“We are all brothers, Christians and Muslims”, said Pope Francis, meeting at the Central mosque of Bangui with the Muslim community, to say “no to hatred, to vengeance and violence, especially that committed in the name of a religion or God”.
Greeted by five Imam in the area of the mosque reserved for prayer, the Pope referred to the civil war that broke out in the Central African Republic at the end of 2012. “We are all aware that the latest events and violence that have torn your nation were not founded on actual religious motives. Those who claim to believe in God, must also be a man or woman of peace. Christians and Muslims and members of traditional religions have lived peacefully for many years. Yes, I confirm, Christians and Muslims of this country are condemned to live together and love one another. We must remain united to prevent any action from either side that disfigures the face of God or has at its base the goal of defending particular interests at the expense of the common good,” said the Pontiff.
Pope Francis also stressed that “Christian and Muslim leaders played an important role in these dramatic times in restoring harmony and fraternity among all,” with gestures of solidarity toward fellow nationals of other faiths.
The Holy Father also addressed the political transitional phase underway in Bangui. “We can only hope that the next national vote gives the nation leaders who are able to unite the Central African population, becoming symbols of unity of the nation, rather than representing some faction. I strongly encourage you to turn your nation into a welcoming home for all its children, without distinction of ethnic, political or religious belonging.”
After the meeting with the Muslim community in the PK5 area, Pope Francis will celebrate mass at the stadium of Bangui, marking the final moment of his first Africa trip.