OXFORD, England (CNS) – A Catholic leader in the Central African Republic said Christian-Muslim ties were affected positively by Pope Francis’ Nov. 29-30 visit and his simple message of living peacefully.
“No guns or grenades sounded during the visit – and while some unfortunate incidents occurred afterward, there was no resort to open violence,” said Msgr. Cyriaque Gbate Doumalo, secretary-general of the bishops’’ conference.
“The pope came with a simple message that Christians and Muslims can fraternally live together in peace and harmony, despite what’s happened here. I think this has touched the Muslim community and given us a real chance.”
He said the bishops’ conference president, Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, had been well received Dec. 9 when he and three priests walked through the mostly Muslim neighborhood known as PK5 to “check the situation” and encourage Christian-Muslim ties.
“Access to PK5 has long been blocked, but since the Holy Father’s departure, people have been coming and going freely again,” Msgr. Doumalo told Catholic News Service.
“Our church is trying to protect and nurture the capital of dialogue and social cohesion which the pope bequeathed to us. We hope economic life will now also resume, as fears and hostilities are overcome, and a definitive peace allows reconstruction in our country,” he said.