Despite the security issues in Central African Republic, plans for the papal visit will still go ahead as normal. Pope Francis said he would not wear bulletproof vest or use a shield on the Popemobile during his visit to the Central African Republic
Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi , the director of the Vatican press office, told reporters on November 19 that the plans for papal visit would go normally despite the violence troubling in the country. He also said that Domenico Giani, the head of Vatican security would leave for Africa ahead of the Pope’s visit on Wednesday. He would visit the Central African Republic to make a final check of security. . He will be especially alert for problems in the Central African Republic, where renewed bloodshed has raised questions as to whether the papal visit could be postponed.
Vatican spokesman also added that, “the Pope wants to go to the Central African Republic. The plan continues to be to go to the Central African Republic. We are all working in that direction. And, like any wise person would do, we are monitoring the situation. As things stand now, we plan to go to Central Africa.”
Moreover, the Pope will travel in an open car during his African visit, Father Lombardi said. Asked whether the Pontiff had been advised wear a bulletproof vest, the papal spokesman replied: “This is the first I have heard of it.” He pointed out that it would seem contradictory to wear a bulletproof vest while riding in an open car.
Islamic State, blamed for the Paris attacks, has made threats to attack Rome, including in a video this week. Security in Rome and the Vatican has been visibly tightened in recent days.
Last Friday’s attacks in Paris, Fr. Federico Lambardi said, obviously led to heightened security measures at the Vatican – “I would not deny that” – but they have had no bearing on the decision to visit the Central African Republic where people have been dying in civil strife for years and where Catholic, Protestant and Muslim leaders have continued to work for peace.
Church officials in the Central African Republic have voiced fears that the papal visit could be in jeopardy. But Vatican’s Bangui-based nuncio, Archbishop Franco Coppola, observed that the Pope’s visit is designed to call attention to the chaotic situation there, “to remind the whole world, by this visit, of the difficulties into which the Central African Republic has been plunged and is trying with all its strength to emerge from.”
The two-decade conflict in the Central African Republic acquired a religious dimension in 2012 when fighters rallied into Christian or Muslim camps. Over the last two years political disputes have degenerated into grisly attacks on both sides and what the U.N. has called a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Christian militias.
Despite a cease-fire agreement and the installation of an interim president and deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping mission last year, fighting has continued, with human-rights groups accusing both sides of brutal war crimes.