Pope Francis will travel to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic in November, the Vatican announced Thursday.
After accepting “the invitation issued by the respective Heads of State and the Bishops,” the pope is scheduled to visit the African continent from Nov. 25-30. He will stop first in Kenya, where he will stay from Nov. 25-27, before moving on to Uganda Nov. 27-29. His last stop will be the Central African Republic, from Nov. 29-30.
Francis first hinted at his intention to travel to Africa – specifically the Central African Republic and Uganda – during a news conference while returning from a trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January. He confirmed the plans in a June 12 meeting with hundreds of priests from around the world participating in the Third World Priests Retreat in the Basilica of St. John Lateran when he answered a question from an African priest about when he planned to visit.
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“God willing, I will be in Africa in November. In the Central African Republic first and then Uganda,” he responded.
The Pope also noted that the trip will come “before the presidential transition in the Central African Republic, and Uganda after the 50th anniversary of the martyrs, though a little late.”
“God willing, I will be in Africa in November. In the Central African Republic first and then Uganda,”
The 22 Ugandan martyrs were killed by the king in the 1880s for refusing to recant their faith. They were canonized Oct. 18, 1964, by Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Church of Uganda has already begun preparations for the celebration of the Golden Anniversary of the canonization with a diocesan conference on the 22 saints.
In the June meeting with priests, the pope said that right now in Africa, there is “a serious problem of the ideological wars” led by groups such as Boko Haram that needs to be addressed.
“Today the world isn’t generous with Africa because they exploit it.”
Pope Francis stressed the need to solve social and developmental problems so that people no longer need to travel to Europe in search of a better life.
“This is an emergency. What is needed is that Europe goes there to Africa not to take things out of Africa, but to invest in Africa so that Africa has industry, work, and the people don’t need to come here. This is the more social work,” he said.
“Europe has been very generous with Africa in terms of what’s Catholic. Today the world isn’t generous with Africa because they exploit it. They treat it as a land of exploitation.”
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This article originally appeared in Catholic News Agency.