Catholic Relief Services Welcomes Pope Francis to Africa

Nov 24, 2015, 12:55 ET from Catholic Relief Services

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Pope Francis makes his first trip to Africa, visiting Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic starting tomorrow, Nov. 25th, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) joins millions of people welcoming him and his vision for a better world.

"People are excited to receive the Pope," says Lane Bunkers, CRS country representative in Kenya. "The region faces many humanitarian challenges, and the Pope's message can create a renewed sense of hope —and opportunity— to the world's poorest people."

Pope Francis' visit takes place amid one of the most severe El Nino weather events on record that is particularly affecting Kenya where he is arriving tomorrow.

"We see the effects of climate change every day in our work in Kenya, and we hope that the world will also see it through the eyes and words of Pope Francis," says Bunkers. "People need to take 'care for creation' to heart because of the moral implications it has when the poorest suffer the most from the effects of climate change."

Pope Francis also plans a visit to a slum in Nairobi. CRS' work in Kenya includes improving the lives of people living in slums by providing them with vocational education and training so they have options for an economic livelihood.  

In Uganda, Pope Francis will likely highlight the struggles of poor and vulnerable families in Uganda.

"We are still dealing with the fallout from HIV, in terms of children left with just one parent or left parentless," said Elizabeth Pfifer, CRS country representative in Uganda. "The family, as an institution, has been eroded by this void, especially the absence of fathers."

Pope Francis' visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) comes against a backdrop of increasing violence, particularly in the capital, Bangui, where he is expected to address peace, reconciliation and interfaith dialogue. The Catholic Church has been at the forefront of promoting peace in the CAR, and CRS has trained 1,200 local community and religious leaders in peace and conflict resolution.

"People of all faiths are excited to welcome Pope Francis, and we hope he will inspire a sense of unity in the Central African Republic," says LeAnn Hager, CRS' country representative there.

"The recent violence in Bangui has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation, but we must continue working to prevent the crisis from growing worse," says Hager. "Promoting peace, justice and social cohesion can break the cycle of violence and restore the social fabric."

Additional Resources

  • Schedule, with local and EST times
  • 5 Points Pope Francis is Expected to Highlight During His Trip to Africa
  • Experts Available for Interviews

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS' relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.


SOURCE Catholic Relief Services