By Philip Pullella and Joe Bavier BANGUI (Reuters) - Protected by the heaviest security ever seen on his trips, Pope Francis on Sunday preached reconciliation in the divided Central African Republic, a nation racked by bloodshed between Muslims and Christians. As the pope's Alitalia plane touched down from Uganda to start his first visit to a war zone, attack helicopters patrolled the skies and armored personnel carriers from French and U.N. peacekeeping forces waited outside the airport. Special security forces wearing patches of the yellow and white colors of the Vatican flag were on hand to help his normal security retinue. In an unprecedented precaution for papal trips, a U.N. soldier armed with a rifle rode in each of the minibuses carrying reporters accompanying the pope. Bangui, the capital of the former French colony, has seen a surge in clashes that have left at least 100 people dead since late September. France, which has around 900 soldiers deployed in the country, warned the Vatican this month that the visit could be risky but the pope was determined to go to the majority Christian nation. "Reconciliation, forgiveness, love, peace," he said in a dramatic voice in the homily of a Mass at the city's cathedral in the afternoon, appealing to warring militias to "lay down these instruments of death". Francis was driven past tens of thousands of cheering people to and from events in a simple car or an open popemobile. "Work, pray, do everything for peace. But remember, peace without love, friendship and tolerance is nothing," he said at one stop, a visit to camp housing some 4,000 people displaced by the violence in Bangui's neighborhoods. He was mobbed by the crowd and asked them all to shout out repeatedly in their native Songo language: "We are all brothers". The tight security continued in the afternoon when he opened a "holy door" at the city's cathedral for a symbolic local start of the Roman Catholic Church's jubilee year on the theme of mercy. The jubilee begins officially at the Vatican on Dec. 8. "The Holy Year of Mercy is coming early to this land that has been suffering for years from hate, incomprehension and lack of peace," he said, standing on the cathedral steps. "For Bangui, for all the people of the Central African Republic and for all the countries in the world suffering from war, we ask for peace," he said in the unprepared remarks to a crowd outside. HARDENED HEARTS Shortly after his arrival Francis heard interim head of state Catherine Samba-Panza paint a bleak picture of her country. "We absolutely need forgiveness because our hearts have been hardened by the forces of evil. We have lost the sincere love for others and we are henceforth anchored in intolerance, the loss of our values and the disorder that is the result," she told him at the official welcoming ceremony. France sent in soldiers in 2013 in an attempt to stem the violence. Muslims and Christians have since split into segregated communities. Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled to the far north, creating a de facto partition. About 80 percent of the impoverished country's population is Christian, roughly 15 percent is Muslim and 5 percent animist. Central African Republic's government is deploying around 500 police and gendarmes to secure the visit. More than 3,000 peacekeepers from the MINUSCA U.N. mission will also be deployed and French troops will be on alert as well. The most dangerous segment of the pope's African trip takes place on Monday when he will enter Bangui's PK5 Muslim enclave and visit its central mosque. The neighborhood, epicenter of a fresh surge in violence, is encircled by Christian militias who have imposed a blockade. Bangui is the final leg of his first African trip that has already taken him to Kenya and Uganda. (Additional reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Editing by Ros Russell)
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
Rest in peace, rockstar.
- The Daily Beast
Reuters/Arnd WiegmannTheatrical rock superstar Meat Loaf, whose Bat Out of Hell is one of the bestselling albums of all time, has died at the age of 74. Reports say the singer and actor had recently fallen sick with COVID-19.In an emotional statement posted to Facebook early Friday, the performer’s family said he was with his wife when he died and had said his final goodbyes to his two daughters in the past 24 hours. The star sold 100 million albums in his five-decade career and starred in movie
- Access Hollywood
Arnold Schwarzenegger was involved in a serious car accident. The actor was in a crash while driving his Yukon SUV near his home in Los Angeles at around 5PM PT on Friday, as seen in photos obtained by TMZ. The 74-year-old’s Yukon SUV was photographed on top of a red Prius.
The Keeping Up the Kardashians alum posted a series of images of herself only wearing a bikini, fuzzy boots and sunglasses during a ski trip in Aspen, Colorado on Thursday
Dakota Johnson made an appearance on 'The Late Late Show' last night, wearing a red Magda Butrym mini dress so short that Johnson was a little worried. James Corden noticed and offered his jacket to Johnson on camera in a slightly awkward exchange.
A neighbour made the grim discovery after peering through his window.
- Business Insider
The former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis says the January 6 committee members are subpoenaing her because they're 'mad they can't date' her
Ellis was subpoenaed on Tuesday, along with the former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Boris Epshteyn.
The January 6 committee obtained a draft of post-insurrection White House remarks that said 'the election fight is over.' Trump gave a speech but left out that sentence.
The House committee probing the Capitol riot has obtained a document from the Trump White House titled "Remarks on National Healing," per Politico.
- Country Living
With 12 seasons portraying Danny Reagan on the hit show Blue Bloods under his belt, it's safe to say Donnie Wahlberg is comfortable in front of the camera. But some fans may not know about his behind-the-scenes work.
- The Daily Beast
ABCOn Thursday night, Jimmy Kimmel gleefully ran down the significant legal problems facing former President Donald Trump during his monologue.“The legal woes for Trump are piling up,” said Kimmel. “The attorney general in New York says she has evidence that the Trump Organization engaged in a pattern of deception, and today we learned that the DA in Fulton County, Georgia, has requested a special grand jury to look into his post-election shenanigans there. On top of that, the Supreme Court clea
Two Canadians died of gunshot wounds after an argument turned violent at a resort near Cancun on Mexico's Caribbean coast, authorities said on Friday. Both guests at the upscale resort on the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo state had criminal records, said Mexican officials, citing information from the Canadian police. Mexican police are searching for another person thought to have fired the shots who had a "long" criminal record in Canada, said the attorney general's office in Quintana Roo, home to a stretch of white-sand beach resorts and lush jungles.
- Yahoo Sports
"He could have ended his career. And he has a history of this. That to me was really dangerous."
- Associated Press
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver a record 15 times. “When I stumbled, you guys were right there ready to lift me back up,” Earnhardt said to his fans. Earnhardt was inducted into NASCAR's 12th Hall of Fame class on Friday night along with late-model driver Red Farmer and the late Mike Stefanik, a decorated modified driver who died in a plane crash in 2019.
- The Daily Beast
Moab PoliceBrian Laundrie scrawled messages in a notebook admitting that he killed his girlfriend Gabby Petito, the FBI said in a statement Friday as they announced that their investigation into the couple’s deaths was now closed. The notebook was found alongside Laundrie’s remains in a wooded area in Florida in October, weeks after police say he killed Petito while they were traveling the country in a van.“The FBI’s primary focus throughout the investigation was to bring justice to Gabby and he
- The Daily Beast
HandoutRosie Diven, a mother of three in rural South Carolina, had no idea her 16-year-old son had COVID-19 until a fearsome syndrome nearly killed him.Branson Diven had been vomiting and suffering a loss of appetite when Rosie brought him to an urgent care center near their home in Hartsville on Dec. 10. He did not have classic COVID symptoms such as a sore throat or a cough, and after testing negative for COVID and positive for flu, he was sent home under the assumption he would soon be better
- Tacoma News Tribune
A wall of water 60 feet high could hit some coastal areas of Washington state.
When the couple met a therapy dog in training, they thought their own pup may be suspicious when they got home
- ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper signed a five-year, $100 contract before the 2020 season. It made him the league’s highest-paid receiver in 2021 with a $20 million base salary and a $22 million cap number. Yet, Cooper tied for 39th in receptions (68), 34th in receiving yards (865) and tied for 37th in points among non-kickers [more]
- USA TODAY Opinion
If successful, a civil action for fraud under New York law could expose Trump to millions of dollars in damages and even dissolution of his business.
- NBC Sports Boston
The Bruins were pretty upset with Garnet Hathaway's hit on Brad Marchand during Thursday's game. Here's what Bruce Cassidy and David Pastrnak had to say about it.