Thursday 29 September 2016

Pope Francis tells crowds at African mosque: Muslims and Christians must live as brothers

Published 30/11/2015 | 09:21

Pope Francis opens the holy door of the Bangui cathedral, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. Pope Francis is in Africa for a six-day visit that is taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic
Pope Francis opens the holy door of the Bangui cathedral, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. Pope Francis is in Africa for a six-day visit that is taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic

Pope Francis has told crowds gathered at the main mosque of Central African Republic's capital that Muslims and Christians are brothers, and must live as such.

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On a rare trip into the volatile neighbourhood known as PK5, the pope recalled how Christians and Muslims had long lived together peacefully in Bangui.

The sectarian violence that erupted nearly two years ago has forced most of the capital's 122,000 Muslims to flee for their lives, with only 15,000 now remaining.

Francis's visit was deeply symbolic and marked the highlight of his three-nation African tour. He was wrapping up his visit with a final Mass in Bangui's sports stadium before returning to Rome.

In his inaugural Mass on Sunday night, Francis reminded the faithful that their primary vocation was to love their enemy and be courageous in forgiving and overcoming hatred, violence, persecution and injustice.

"To all those who unjustly use weapons in this world, I appeal: Put down your weapons of death; arm yourselves instead with justice, love, mercy and authentic guarantees of peace," he said to applause.

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