November started off dramatically and it ended the same way. On November 2, Vatican police arrested and interrogated a senior Vatican official and a lay woman who worked with the Vatican. Days later, a Vatican trial began with five people accused of two different charges.
They were a Spanish priest, Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda, and an Italian laywoman and PR expert, Francesca Chaouqui. Balda's secretary Nicola Maio was also charged.
They were accused of "criminal conspiracy to disseminate news and documents related to the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.”
Also charged were the journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi. They face charges of "illegally procuring and later revealing news and documents related to the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.”
The case is centered around leaked documents which provided the basis for two books about the Vatican's finances. The penalty for the offenses can be up to eight years in prison.
What remained a mystery is exactly why the Vatican employees leaked information, and whether the two journalists would be convicted for publishing it.
The drama on his home front didn't stop Pope Francis from undertaking one of the riskiest foreign trips of his pontificate. He began his three-country tour of Africa in Kenya on November 25th.
The Pope's first stop was at the State House in Kenya, where he received an enthusiastic welcome.
"Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration.”
Pope Francis again thanked them for the warm welcome. He said God bless Kenya in Swahili, and the crowd went wild.
"God bless Kenya!”
While celebrating Mass at the University of Nairobi, Pope Francis offered a challenge to the hundreds of thousands of people there. It was aimed particularly at students.
"Shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity. May you always be concerned for the needs of the poor, and reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God.”
In his speech at the seat of the United Nations in Kenya, Pope Francis thanked the organizations for their work to protect nature. Speaking in Spanish, he offered a dire warning about the upcoming COP 21 conference in Paris.
"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.”
The Pope's first major public appearance in Uganda took place here, at the Munyonyo sanctuary, where the memory of the first four Ugandan martyrs is honored.
"We stand here today in Munyonyo at the place where King Mwanga determined to wipe out the followers of Christ. He failed in this, just as King Herod failed to kill Jesus. The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it.”
The Pope later listened closely to emotional testimonies from two young Ugandans. One suffers from AIDS and the other was kidnapped and tortured.
"For Winnie, life was like a wall, a brick wall for her. Jesus made her understand that a wall can be turned into a path towards the future...Are you ready to transform hate into love?”
The Pope left the former airport in the same way he arrived: with music and dancing all around him. It was a recurring theme during the trip.
It was unclear until nearly the last minute whether Pope Francis would be able to visit the Central African Republic. Ultimately, he did.
While in the country, he visited a refugee camp. The Pope entered by foot and began by first greeting the sick and the youngest refugees. Afterward, Pope Francis made improvised remarks and asked them to repeat a message in the future.
"But peace without love, without friendship, without tolerance, without forgiveness, is not possible...I would like for everyone to say together, 'We are all brothers.'”
On his last day in the CAR, the Pope opened Holy Door in the Cathedral of Bangui. He said that, "Bangui is the spiritual capital of the prayer for God's mercy.”
In a country where war has divided religions, Pope Francis attempted to bridge the divide between Christians and Muslims. He visited a mosque and was warmly received.
The Pope received flowers as a gift from some young girls before entering the Central Mosque. He was accompanied by the mosque's grand imam. After some remarks from the imam in French, the Pope delivered a strong interreligious message in Italian.
"Together we say no to hate. No to revenge. No to violence.”
And just as when he came in, Pope Francis took the Popemobile out. The imam rode with him as a stampede of excited people ran alongside the truck.