Today Bangui became the “spiritual capital of the world!”. Pope Francis’ impassioned announcement is also one for the entire Church as she prepares for the Jubilee. Opening the Holy Door here, in a lacerated city in one of the world’s poorest countries, is not only a gesture of closeness for this tormented people, but is also a lesson that resonated many times throughout his journey in Africa: Christians cannot forget the poor. Naturally, the Mass that the Pontiff celebrated in the evening of 29 November in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was also marked by words of peace and reconciliation.
Francis arrived aboard the popemobile shortly before 5 pm local time in the garden in front of the church rectory. Vested in purple, the liturgical colour of the First Sunday of Advent, he climbed the steps of the Cathedral for the Mass. On the parvis were the con-celebrantsss: the cardinals of the entourage, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, the Central African Bishops, and Archbishop Franco Coppola, Nuncio in the Central African Republic.
Technical difficulties interfered with the transmission of the the Pope’s words outside the cathedral, but the thousands who gathered in the square were able to see his actions on the jumbotron, while many others managed to hear his voice by way of the live radio broadcast of the event.
The Pope approached the door of the cathedral and according to ritual exhorted: “Open the doors of justice”. After entering the church, which was decorated for the occasion with its columns draped in yellow and white, the Pope celebrated Mass for the Central African priests, men and women religious, and seminarians. The Liturgy was said in French (with the Preface and Eucharistic Prayer in Latin) and was accompanied by a choir that sang in Sango, the national language. The prayers of the faithful were dedicated to the Pope and to Advent preachers that they may proclaim Christian hope, to governments and those who fight for a more fraternal world, to the sick, the exiled, to orphans and widows, and to consecrated people that they may revive the ardour of their witness.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 20, 2019
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