, KAMPALA, Uganda, Nov 29 – I haven’t had a chance to find out from Pope Francis whether he has been pestered by mosquitoes – his only fear during his trip to Africa, but will be keenly watching his handlers Sunday, when he lands in the Central African Republic where concerns have been raised about his safety.
Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope had a busy schedule ahead of him, from the moment he lands at Bangui M’Poko International Airport at about 10am.
He is immediately due to depart for the presidential palace for a meeting with political leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.
“After that he will go to a refugee camp before meeting with Bishops of the Central African Republic,” Fr Lombardi told journalists Saturday in Kampala at the conclusion of the Pope’s visit in Uganda.
The Pontiff will later in the afternoon proceed for mass with priests, catechists and the youth, hear confessions of some young people and beginning of the vigil of prayer.
On Monday, Pope Francis is due at the Koudoukou Central Mosque for a meeting with the Muslim community before holding mass at the Boganda Sports Centre.
Pope Francis will then depart for Ciampino Airport in Rome that afternoon, marking the end of his maiden trip to Africa.
Asked whether the Pope would be back in the continent any time soon, Fr Lombardi said it was too early to tell, but that the reception he received “gave him every reason to return.”
“The Pope was well received and the youth were very enthusiastic they and ready to go listen to him. This is a reason for him to come back. When and how I cannot say,” Fr Lombardi said.
In Kenya it was a blessing of rain, in Uganda, it was the sun and an estimated 150,000 youths were unfazed by the blistering heat as they danced their hearts out and responded with enthusiasm at every question the Pope posed to them.
The youths chanted: “Pope Francis, we love you.”
Pope Francis veered off his written speech at the Kololo meeting as he engaged the crowd in a one-on-one conversation about their faith and its bearing on their future.