In some sense, this story would interest Egyptians and applies to Egypt, too. The New York Times, by SOMINI SENGUPTA
On his maiden visit to Africa, Pope Francis went where most other dignitaries would not — and he went in ways that won him applause from ordinary people.
In Nairobi, he traveled from the airport in a simple Honda — then visited a slum long accustomed to the ribbon of raw sewage.
In Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, he crossed a no-man’s land in a war zone, taking off his shoes at the threshold of a mosque, as is Muslim custom, and then speaking of reconciliation across faiths. “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters,” he said, a jarring idea in a country where some Muslims and Christians have slaughtered each other for the last two years.
The pope’s six-day swing to Africa, which ended on Monday, was loaded with potent, stirring symbols like this. On a continent brimming with young people, they were meant to appeal to youth, including the disaffected.
In Uganda, he put aside his prepared remarks to champion the courage of a former child soldier. In Kenya, he expressed sympathy for young men and women who lack education and work. And he gave a nod to the one subject that resonates widely with African youth — but did so delicately, so as not to offend the leaders who were hosting him.
“Corruption is something that eats inside; it’s like sugar, it’s sweet, we like it, it’s easy,” Francis said and then, gently, he urged: “Please. Don’t develop that taste.”
What he did not say was equally potent. The Roman Catholic Church in Africa is powerful — and increasingly conservative. And so Francis was silent about the repression of gay men and lesbians in Uganda, despite the hopes of human rights advocates.
He said nothing about child marriage — which is exceptionally high in sub-Saharan Africa — nor about why so many African women continue to die in childbirth. The church officially opposes contraception, and the pope continues to speak of the need to protect the unborn.
On the flight back to Rome, the pontiff tried to deflect a question on whether the church should change its position on the use of condoms to limit the spread of H.I.V.
After leaving the mosque, Francis visited a school in a Muslim area of Bangui. Credit Gianluigi Guercia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“I don’t like getting into questions or reflections that are so technical when people die because they don’t have water or food or housing,” he said, according to an Associated Press report.
Francis saved his riskiest venture for last. He spoke in a mosque in a neighborhood of Bangui, called PK-5, where the city’s Muslim minority has been isolated for months. Rival militias stand guard at the gates of the neighborhood, controlling who gets in and out, and the road that links it with the rest of the city is usually eerily deserted.
On Monday, it was an altogether different scene. The barricades broke — at least for a while.
Diane Corner, United Nations deputy special representative, posted on Twitter: “Remember the fall of the Berlin Wall? That’s what border of PK5 looks like. Extraordinary scenes for last 3 hours.”
More than two years of sectarian strife has displaced more than 400,000 people in the Central African Republic, the United Nations estimates. The mosque had been freshly painted for Francis’ visit. The Vatican flag was hoisted in the yard out front. Inside, after speaking with Muslim clerics, Francis appealed for Christian-Muslim unity, as he had throughout his Africa tour.
“Together,” he said, “we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself.”
Chris Stein contributed reporting.