Pope brings hope of reconciliation to war-torn Central African Republic

Pope Francis' visit to the Central African Republic inspired reconciliation in the war-torn country, according to the newly elected president.

ReutersPope Francis exchanges gifts with President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadera during a meeting at the Vatican April 18, 2016

Pope Francis and President Faustin-Archange Touadera met in the Vatican on Monday.

They focussed on the positive impact of the recent electoral process and the institutional reforms in CAR, which have been supported by inter-religious dialogue, and their mutual hope for a peaceful future for the nation.

The Pope visited the country in November 2015.

"Since the Holy Father's visit, we've felt a wind of change blowing through our country – there's been a total turnaround," the head of the CAR bishop's conference, Archbishop Nzapalainga, told The Tablet.

"He came as a messenger of mercy and urged reconciliation in our communities. This summons to peace and forgiveness was heard by former enemies and combatants and has now become something real, giving the new president a real chance for peace," he added.

The Archbishop said he sees Touadera, who was elected with a 63 per cent majority in February, as bringing great hope to the country.

"I believe the new president will gather our people from east and west, north and south, reconciling them with themselves and others," he told the Catholic News Service.

In March 2013 a rebel movement forced former President François Bozizé out of office. Violence since the coup has forced one-fifth of the population to flee the country.

Elections to replace the interim President Catherine Samba-Panza were repeatedly delayed due to violence.

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