It was five intense days for the Pope, as he delivered messages of peace, reconciliation, faith, and mercy.
Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic hosted the Pope as he made his first tour of the African continent. The trip made a profound impact on large of swaths of people. And the Pope was especially touched.
1. CARING FOR NATURE
While in Kenya, the Pope spoke before the seat of the United Nations in Africa that focuses on the environment and sustainable development. He called on governments to make decisions that favor the planet and people, instead of special interests.
"It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.”
In Kenya, the Pope held a massive encounter with young people. He warned them about the danger of corruption in all parts of life.
"But it's not only in politics. It's in all institutions. Even in the Vatican there are cases of corruption. Corruption is something that hits us inside. It's like sugar. It's sweet. We like it. It's easy. And afterward it ends badly.”
Before leaving Kenya, he visited one of the largest marginalized neighborhoods in Africa, Kangemi. He told the residents that he felt at home among the most humble.
"I feel very much at home sharing these moments with brothers and sisters who, and I am not ashamed to say this, have a special place in my life and my decisions.”
In Uganda, the Pope wanted to honor the memory of Catholic and Anglican martyrs who were killed for their faith in the 19th century. He called on Ugandans to never forget that time.
"Their lives give witness even now to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This legacy is not served by an occasional remembrance, or by being enshrined in a museum as a precious jewel.”
The Pope also heard moving testimony while in Uganda: a young woman with AIDS and a boy who was kidnapped and tortured told their stories. The Pope asked them to never lose hope.
"Winnie transformed bitterness into hope. It's not magic. It is the work of Jesus. Jesus can do anything.”
The final stop of the Pope's trip was the most delicate. The Central African Republic has been at war since 2013, and about a quarter of its 5 million inhabitants are internally displaced. Those who lost their homes were the first ones the Pope visited.
"I would like for everyone to say together, 'We are all brothers.' And for that reason, because we are all brothers, we hope for peace. I will give you the blessing of Lord. And pray for me.”
Without a doubt, one of the most emotional moments of the trip was this...
The Pope inaugurated the Jubilee of Mercy in the Cathedral of Bangui by opening the Holy Door.
"Together we ask for love and peace. Love and peace. Now, with this prayer, we begin the Holy Year, here in this spiritual capital of the world.”
8. FORGIVENESS AND PEACE
The Pope's most persistent message during his trip to the CAR was one of peace. This is how he told young Central Africans to treat their enemies.
"Can you love your enemy? Yes. Can you forgive when they have hurt you? Yes. With love and forgiveness you can be the victor.”
The Pope's trip to the CAR ended with a Mass at Bangui's major stadium. Once again, thousands attended to show their affection and thanks for the Pope's historic visit to the heart of Africa.