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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Pope's visit to Central African Republic.3


The Pope's visit to Central African Republic.3
Today is the day in which the Pope, after visiting the Central Mosque (in the most dangerous area of the city) will celebrate Mass in the Stadium. Wake up at dawn, morning prayers at 5.00am, a little breakfast and 6.00am departure from Carmel. Many people greet us in the streets, happy for this great visit and happy because we take part to this event. After leaving the cars in those communities, we move, through the districts, to the Stadium. Here the entrance is a bit chaotic, but we can manage to enter. Priests and religious are down on the lawn. In front of us the altar, and in the front row the sick and handicapped. Now are entering Ambassadors, Ministers and the President. Then we can hear a sudden loud screaming. I think it's because of the Pope arrival. Instead it is the arrival of the Imam, who with the Archbishop of Bangui and a Protestant Pastor is part of the trio of the Platform of Religious Leaders, which worked and works for peace and mediation. Finally the Pope comes, welcomed with an ovation that involves approximately 30,000 people inside the stadium and the tens of thousands who are outside. It comes with a simple van Toyota, without bulletproof glass. With the same car He just went at Km 5, scene of clashes between Muslims and non-Muslims. It's a little a slap to UN peacekeepers and the United Nations, which in those neighborhoods do not go, or, if they really have to, they go there with armored vehicles. The Mass begins. It’s a sunny day but very hot. (Fr. Matteo after a while has to leave, victim of a malaria attack. At present is feeling better!). But we offer all this too with joy! The Pope, in spite of fatigue, has very strong words to encourage Christians and everybody to "to reach the other shore" (the theme of the visit). It points out that the other bank is the eternal life yes but also the lives here on earth for which entrusts the Central Africans the mission to be makers of peace and justice. The liturgy is very lively. The Gospel is preceded by dancers sounding horns and traditional instruments. The Gospel is on a stretcher, held by a child. Even the offertory is very nice, with gifts for the liturgy, but also the gifts from the various dioceses. After Communion, the Archbishop of Bangui taking the word  presents the Country, with its difficulties, but also with the grace and joy for this exceptional visit, with the presence of the Pope and the opening of the Holy Door. Eventually he presented some gifts to the Pope, and asked him to bless a bit of Central African land. The Pope after a while is back on the "popemobile" and after a short tour leaves toward the airport, from where it took off around 1.00pm. Slowly we exit from the stadium. Thousands of people converge to the only gate, but we manage to get out. It is awesome to see the stadium full of people. The streets crowded. And everyone is happy and full of joy for this great gift. Now this is the moment to let the emotions go moving in a concrete way to the other shore, time to turn the page! With the grace of God, the commitment of everyone ... we can do it.                  Thanks Pope Francis!

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