, ABOARD PAPAL FLIGHT, Nov 25 – There have been concerns raised about the security of Pope Francis when he lands in Africa on his maiden five-day trip.
Apart from Kenya and Uganda which have been targets of terrorism, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Central African Republic which has been ravaged by sectarian violence.
On the Papal Flight from Rome to Nairobi on Wednesday, Pope Francis was asked by one of the journalists – when he came round to individually greet all of us – whether he was worried about his safety.
Why he asked? To which the journalist responded that there were people who were targeting Christians.
This was the response of the Pope: “There are good and bad people. To tell you the truth, the only thing I’m worried about are mosquitoes.”
Before he returned to his seat, Pope Francis joked: “I hope you carried your mosquito repellents!”
Before going round to greet the journalists on board the Alitalia plane flying him to Nairobi, Pope Francis made it clear that “he comes to Africa in joy.”
He said he wants to offer the people of Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic spiritual well being.
Earlier, The vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told journalists that Pope Francis had gone to Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica on Tuesday to pray like he always does always before a trip – and he will visit the Basilica when he goes back to Rome.
He went on to explain that on Wednesday morning, Pope Francis met 11 women and their six children.
The 11, Father Lombardi said, are victims of violence, forced prostitution, and human trafficking.
Elimination of human trafficking has been an issue close to Pope Francis’s heart.
The women are Italian, Ukraine, Romania and Nigeria.
“The Pope let the women know that he stands with all those who suffer from violence and their recovery.”
The comments by Pope Francis were made around 10am when the plane carrying him was flying over Egypt.
He left Fiumicino Airport in Rome at about 8am local time for the 5,706 kilometer journey that will take some 7 hours and 15 minutes.
On board, they served a breakfast of ham from Parma, fresh cheese, a bowl of fruits, some yoghurt, croissants and a choice of tea or coffee.
Pope Francis is due to arrive in Kenya at 5pm.