Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "As for security, I will tell you my experience: it is true, there were UN peacekeepers, the local gendarmerie, security forces. But who really protected the Pope's visit, and would not allow any threat to take shape, was the enthusiasm and affection of the people who surrounded the Pope from the minute he landed to the minute he left". This is what Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said in the short and intense account of the papal visit just concluded, which he addressed to the participants at the plenary Assembly of the C.E.P., gathered today in Rome at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, for their second day of work. In his speech, applauded by those present, the Cardinal - who accompanied the Pope in the apostolic visit - briefly traced the three stages of of Pope Francis’ African trip, focusing in particular on the days spent in the Central African Republic. "We landed at the airport" said Cardinal Filoni, "but before landing we could already see the destruction of the houses burned around the outskirts of Bangui. Tens of thousands of refugees ran towards the runway, because all the airport is surrounded by refugee camps, and there were only peacekeepers to ensure that the runway was clear. Everyone said that the Central African Republic would have been a difficult stop-over", stressed Cardinal Filoni, "but the Pope was determined to carry out his visit". The papal visit was protected by the poor people, who ran continuously around the papal car, and never left the Pope alone, and so he was also defended by any possible danger".
For the Cardinal, the opening of the Holy Door in Bangui, in a country that has been and is still shaken by unprecedented violence" in the heart of a Continent which is still suffering for many wars, guerrilla wars, corruption and theft, but is also young in faith and enthusiasm" was a prophetically important gesture from an ecclesiological point of view. "In this complex situation, Bangui - said the Cardinal Filoni, became the spiritual capital of the world for one day".
According to the Prefect of the Congregation, the Apostolic Visit to Africa, although tiring, comforted and encouraged the Successor of Peter in the exercise of his mission: "The Pope" recalled Cardinal Filoni "always repeats that the prayer of the poor is the prayer that most supports him in his ministry. Even in Africa he said: pray for me, so that I may be a good priest and a good bishop, so I am able to fulfill my pastoral ministry, as the Lord wishes". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 01/12/2015)