Pope opens Holy Door: Today Bangui is the spiritual capital of the world

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The Pope opens the Holy Door in Bangui

Pope opens Holy Door: Today Bangui is the spiritual capital of the world

By Andrea Tornielli in Bangui

Pope Francis inaugurated, on November 29, the Jubilee of Mercy in the capital of the Central African Republic: “The Holy Year begins earlier in this land that has suffered for many years as a result of war, hatred, misunderstanding and a lack of peace. Let us ask for peace and reconciliation for all countries that are at war”. "To all those who make unjust use of the weapons of this world, I make this appeal: lay down these instruments of death!"

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy has begun. It began more than a week ahead of the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis opened the wood and glass door of Bangui Cathedral in CAR just a short while ago. Before opening it, he spontaneously explained the significance of his gesture.

“Today Bangui is the spiritual capital of the world,” the Pope said. “The Holy Year of Mercy begins earlier in this land that has suffered for many years as a result of war, hatred, misunderstanding and a lack of peace.”

“This land of suffering is a reflection of all countries around the world that have experienced the cross of war. Bangui is the spiritual capital of prayer for God’s mercy. Let us all ask for peace, mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness and love. Let us ask for peace and reconciliation for Bangui, for the Central African Republic and for all countries afflicted by war!”

As he has already done on a number of occasions during this visit to Africa, Francis asked all faithful to repeat the following prayer with him: “All together now, let us ask for love and peace!” “Ndoye siriri, love and peace!” Francis said pronouncing a couple of words in the local language.

“With this prayer, we mark the start of the Holy Year here, in this spiritual capital of the world today.” He then turned to face the central door of the cathedral, opened it and stood with his arms open for a few moments while the faithful inside applauded and knelt.

In the homily he pronounced for the mass which marks the start of Advent in the Latin rite churches, Francis said: “Through you, I would greet all the people of the Central African Republic: the sick, the elderly, those who have experienced life’s hurts. Some of them are perhaps despairing and listless, asking only for alms, the alms of bread, the alms of justice, the alms of attention and goodness. Let us ask for peace, the alms of peace!”

The Pope said we need to “fre[e] ourselves of divisive notions of family and blood in order to build a Church which is God’s family, open to everyone, concerned for those most in need. This presupposes closeness to our brothers and sisters; it implies a spirit of communion. It is not primarily a question of financial means; it is enough just to share in the life of God’s people.”

Francis recalled that one of the essential duties of a Christian is “the love of our enemies, which protects us from the temptation to seek revenge and from the spiral of endless retaliation. Jesus placed special emphasis on this aspect of the Christian testimony. Those who evangelize must therefore be first and foremost practitioners of forgiveness, specialists in reconciliation, experts in mercy.”

“In every place,” the Pope continued, “even and especially in those places where violence, hatred, injustice and persecution hold sway, Christians are called to give witness to this God who is love.” “Thus what the pagans said of the early Christians will always remain before us like a beacon: ‘See how they love one another, how they truly love one another’.”

“God is stronger than all else,” Francis said. “This conviction gives to the believer serenity, courage and the strength to persevere in good amid the greatest hardships. Even when the powers of Hell are unleashed, Christians must rise to the summons, their heads held high, and be ready to brave blows in this battle over which God will have the last word. And that word will be love!”

Francis concluded by saying: “To all those who make unjust use of the weapons of this world, I make this appeal: lay down these instruments of death! Arm yourselves instead with righteousness, with love and mercy, the authentic guarantors of peace.” The final passages of his homily were interrupted by the faithful’s hearty applause.

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 11:25
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