Pope Francis will travel for five days through three countries into the heart of Africa: Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Although each nation has a different socio-economic situation, they all have experienced violence and corruption that makes life hard to live.
Kenya has been a victim of jihadist violence. In April, the al-Shabaab terrorist organization killed more than 140 students at the University of Garissa. The attackers specifically targeted Christians.
MSGR. JAMES MARIA WAINAINA KUNGU
Bishop of Muranga (Kenya)
"The situation is mainly out there where the leaders are not. Because the leaders, they understand one another. At least that is what the Muslim leaders make us to know, or to understand. They are working together with us. They are living together with us in a good way.”
Kenya has enacted an ambitious security plan for the Pope's visit, using 10,000 police and another 10,000 members of the national youth service. Thursday's Mass on University of Nairobi's campus will likely be attended by a million and a half pilgrims.
The Pope will also visit Uganda, which ranks 26th in the ranking of corrupt countries. There, political corruption has led to serious poverty and underdevelopment in education and health.
FR. HERMAN JOSEPH KALUNGI
"Sometimes there are no drugs, medicines, in the hospitals, not because we do not have the resources but because someone has embezzled the funds that should have been used for this purpose...There is political ambition that some Ugandans wants to acquire political power and retain it at all costs.”
Although Uganda is less threatened by terrorism than Kenya, the government has sent 10,000 soldiers to ensure everyone's safety.
The Pope's final stop in the Central African Republic is even more delicate. With a shaky provisional government and a civil war waging for three years between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka, the Pope's visit will bring a glimmer of hope for the third poorest country in the world.
FR. LATERNE KOYA SSAMBIA
Priest, Central African Republic
"The Pope will find a people affected by everything on a daily basis, a people that is facing great difficulty because they have lost their means, their energy, their potential. But they are a people that has not lost their faith nor their hope. Despite the difficulties, they look to the future".
About 12,000 soldiers of the UN mission to the CAR and 1,500 police will protect the Pope. Things will be especially delicate when he visits the central mosque in Bangui on Monday, November 30th.
The trip will have deep inter-religious undertones. Thirty-three percent of Kenya's 44 million inhabitants are Catholic. In Uganda almost half of the 32 million are, and in the Central African Republic 38 percent of about 5 million people belong to the Universal Church.