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Bishop in the Central African Republic: the people must put their hopes in the Pope's visit

2015-08-04

The Pope has made it very clear that he intends to  visit to Africa. And he has said this on more than one occasion. The first time was in January, while he was returning from his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. In the massive gathering of priests in Rome, he repeated this desire to visit Africa. 

POPE FRANCIS
"God willing, I will visit Africa this November: First, the Central Republic of Africa, and afterwards Uganda. There's the possibility that I will visit Kenya, but this is still uncertain due to logistical problems.”

The visit will occur towards the end of the month and Monsignor Juan José Aguirre will welcome the Pope to the Central African Republic.

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou (Central African Republic)
"We are very happy, very happy that the Central African Republic will be able to welcome the Pope, -not only Catholics-, Protestants and Muslims also see this visit as a divine blessing."

This Spanish bishop, a Comboni missionary, has lived in the country for more than 36 years. In these past two years, he has witnessed the violence caused by the Sélèka, a jihadist faction, and their enemies, the anti-Balaka. Both factions are equally bloodthirsty. Each of them oppresses a population already struggling to survive a devastating famine. 

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou (Central African Republic)
"The Pope will find an enormous amount of poor people here who live on less than a euro a day, and yet he will find that these people are very religious.”

But the people of the Central African Republic should not be defined solely by abject poverty. The Pope will find people here who fight to survive and who deeply desire to live.

These are pictures of his diocese of Bangassou. A few days ago, the bishops of the Central African Republic met with the Pope during their visit ad limina. Monsignor Juan José Aguirre wasn't able to attend because he had had a heart attack, the third one in the past few years. Weeks later, after recovering, he visited Rome. This time he spoke with Pope Francis

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou (Central Republic of Africa)
"The entire population of the Central African Republic has great hopes that the Pope merely by his presence will bless both our electoral process and its result.”

This is one of the main results people are hoping will be obtained through the Pope's visit: the election of a new president who will give the country much needed stability. Another is the disarmament of the militias, many of which are made up of kidnapped child soldiers. Despite the difficulties, as Monsignor Aguirre says, there is still hope and the country has given him a new perspective on life and faith. 

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou (Central Republic of Africa)
"If I were born a second time, I would do everything the same way. Just like poet Pablo Neruda says: "I confess that I have lived.” My life has been filled with precious moments, moments that make my heart swell with gratitude.”


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