Pope sends peace message before visit to Kenya, Uganda and CAR

(Photo: REUTERS / Luc Gnago)(L-R) Archbishop of Bangui Dieudonne Nzapalainga; Bangas Nicolas, a minister in the evangelical church; imam Oumar Kobine Layama, representative of the Muslim community in Bangui and commander of French forces in the Central African Republic, General Francisco Soriano, attend during a meeting between religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces, in Bangui February 10, 2014.

Pope Francis has sent a video sent message of "peace, reconciliation, dialogue" to Kenya, Uganda and the conflict-torn Central African Republic on the eve of a visit to the three nations.

"Your dear country has for too long known violence and insecurity of which many of you are innocent victims," Pope Francis said in a video message to CAR's citizens "irrespective of ethnicity or religion."

"I hope with all my heart that my visit will help heal your wounds and open the way to a more peaceful future for CAR and all its inhabitants," the Pope stated before his visit to the country which has seen militias cliaming to be pro-Chrisitian and pro-Muslim pitted against each other.

The Catholic population in Africa is growing faster than any other in the world, and it is expected to jump in the coming years, Bill O'Keefe, a vice president at Catholic Relief Services, a U.S. humanitarian told CNN..

Although the violence in the Central African Republic is often depicted as having religious undertones between Muslims and Christians, the conflict is multifaceted, Vatican Radio commented.

"Greed for the nation's resources also plays a big part in the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and created a serious humanitarian crisis."

One of his last engagements before he returns to Rome on November 30 is a visit to Bangui's Central Mosque for a meeting with the Muslim community, Vatican Radio reported.

"I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace," the Pope said in separate message to the people of Kenya and Uganda.

The Kenyan government declared Nov. 26 a national holiday and a National Day of Prayer and Reflection the day after the pontiff was scheduled to touch down in the East African country.

"As we are privileged to be hosting His Holiness the Pope at the time, he will set the tone for the day", State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said in statement on Nov. 24.

The Pope is scheduled to arrive in Nairobi on the evening of Nov. 25

In his message to Kenya and Uganda francis said, "We are living at a time when religious believers, and persons of good will everywhere, are called to foster mutual understanding and respect."

Concerns have arisen over security during the Pope's six-day visit to Africa after extremists said to be fighting in the name of Islam attacked a hotel in Mali's capital Bamako on Nov. 20 that left at least 27 people dead, including 13 foreigners.

In a telegram at the Vatican said the Pope "strongly condemned" the Mali attacks. Responsibility for the killings was claimed by two groups, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Murabitoun and the Macina Liberation Front, which has been blamed for attacks in southern Mali.

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