By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Despite continued instability and outbreaks of violence in the Central African Republic, the Vatican announced Pope Francis will spend about 33 hours in the country during a Nov. 25-30 visit to Africa.
Releasing the schedule for the trip, the Vatican said that while the pope is in the Central African Republic Nov. 29-30, he will visit a refugee camp, hold a meeting with evangelical Christians and visit a mosque in Bangui, the nation’s capital.
The country has known little peace or development in its 55 years of independence. In March 2013, a rebel movement, Seleka, led by Arab-speaking Islamists, suspended the nation’s constitution. French and African peacekeepers were deployed in January 2014 and the rebels were driven out of the capital.
The National Reconciliation Forum, convened by the country’s transitional parliament in May, has been trying to bring Seleka and its Christian-dominated rival, Anti-Balaka, into talks and preparations for elections that originally were scheduled for Oct. 18. The vote, however, was postponed after violence broke out again in late September.
Kenya is the first stop on Pope Francis’ first visit to Africa as pope; there, too, he will meet with ecumenical and interreligious leaders, but he also will visit the Kangemi slum on the outskirts of Nairobi.
Traveling to Uganda Nov. 27, the pope will honor the memory of the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic Ugandan martyrs, killed for their faith on the orders of King Mwanga II between 1885 and 1887.
Here is the schedule for the trip as released by the Vatican Oct. 17. The times listed are local with Eastern Standard Time in parentheses:
Wednesday, Nov. 25 (Rome, Nairobi)
7:45 a.m. (1:45 a.m.) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
5 p.m. (10 a.m.) Arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, followed by a welcoming ceremony at Kenya’s State House.
6 p.m. (11 a.m.) Courtesy visit with Kenya’s president at the State House.
6:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.) Meeting with Kenyan government officials and members of the diplomatic corps at the State House. Speech by pope.
Thursday, Nov. 26 (Nairobi)
8:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.) Meeting with interreligious and ecumenical representatives at the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi. Speech by pope.
10 a.m. (3 a.m.) Mass on the campus of the University of Nairobi. Homily by pope.
3:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m.) Meeting with priests, religious and seminarians on the sports field of St Mary’s School. Speech by pope.
5:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m.) Visit to the United Nations Office in Nairobi. Speech by pope.
Friday, Nov. 27 (Nairobi; Entebbe, Uganda)
8:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.) Visit to the Kangemi neighborhood in Nairobi. Speech by pope.
10 a.m. (3 a.m.) Meeting with youth at Kasarani Stadium. Speech by pope.
11:15 a.m. (4:15 a.m.) Meeting with the bishops of Kenya in the stadium’s VIP room.
3:10 p.m. (8:10 a.m.) Farewell ceremony at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
3:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m.) Departure from Nairobi for Entebbe, Uganda.
4:50 p.m. (9:50 a.m.) Arrival at Entebbe International Airport.
5:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m.) Courtesy visit with the president of Uganda in the State House in Entebbe.
6 p.m. (11 a.m.) Meeting with Ugandan authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in the conference room of the State House. Speech by pope.
7:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.) Visit to Munyonyo and meeting with catechists and teachers. Greeting by pope.
Saturday, Nov. 28 (Namugongo, Kampala)
8:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.) Visit to the Anglican martyrs’ shrine at Namugongo.
9 a.m. (2 a.m.) Visit to Catholic martyrs’ shrine at Namugongo.
9:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m.) Mass for the martyrs of Uganda near the Catholic shrine. Homily by pope.
3:15 p.m. (8:15 a.m.) Meeting with young people at the Kololo airstrip in Kampala. Speech by pope.
5 p.m. (10 a.m.) Visit to the Nalukolongo House of Charity. Greeting by pope.
6 p.m. (11 a.m.) Meeting with the bishops of Uganda in the archbishop’s residence.
7 p.m. (Noon) Meeting with priests, religious and seminarians in Kampala’s cathedral. Speech by pope.
Sunday, Nov. 29 (Entebbe; Bangui, Central African Republic)
9 a.m. (2 a.m.) Farewell ceremony at Entebbe airport.
9:15 a.m. (2:15 a.m.) Departure for Bangui.
10 a.m. (4 a.m.) Arrival at M’Poko International Airport in Bangui. Welcoming ceremony.
11 a.m. (5 a.m.) Courtesy visit with the country’s transitional president in the presidential palace.
11:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m.) Meeting with leaders and with the diplomatic corps. Speech by pope.
12:15 p.m. (6:15 a.m.) Visit to a refugee camp.
1 p.m. (7 a.m.) Meeting with the bishops of the Central African Republic.
4 p.m. (10 a.m.) Meeting with evangelical communities at the evangelical theological school in Bangui. Speech by pope.
5 p.m. (11 a.m.) Mass with priests, religious, catechists and youths in the Bangui cathedral. Homily by pope.
7 p.m. (1 p.m.) Hearing the confessions of some young people and beginning a prayer vigil outside the cathedral. Speech by pope.
Monday, Nov. 30
8:15 a.m. (2:15 a.m.) Meeting with the Muslim community at the Koudoukou mosque in Bangui. Speech by pope.
9:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m.) Mass in the Barthelemy Boganda Stadium. Homily by pope.
12:15 p.m. (6:15 a.m.) Farewell ceremony at M’Poko International Airport.
12:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m.) Departure for Rome.
6:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m.) Arrival at Rome’s Cia