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What Pope Francis Did — And Didn't — Say On His First Trip To Africa

Pope Francis arrives at Lubaga Cathedral in Kampala during the Ugandan stage of his trip.
Carl de Souza
AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis arrives at Lubaga Cathedral in Kampala during the Ugandan stage of his trip.

As the U.S. chowed down on turkey, stuffing and leftovers, Pope Francis visited Uganda, Kenya and the Central African Republic for a six-day trip, continuing his focus on the developing world.

The trip brought many firsts. He had never before been to Africa. His visit to the Central African Republic was the first time in modern era that a pope has set foot in an active conflict zone. And it was the first time a pope has visited Uganda since 1969.

Throughout his masses and meetings, he did not shy away from addressing most of the region's pressing issues: corruption, war and poverty.

But he disappointed thousands of LGBT activists in Uganda by staying silent on gay rights, an issue he has commented on to journalists in the past.

Here's a roundup of his top quotes from the trip:

He condemned corruption in Kenya:

"Each time when we accept a bribe and we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts. we destroy our personalities, and we destroy our country. Please, don't develop that taste for that sugar which is called corruption."

He addressed the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab's effect on Kenyan society:

"If a young woman or man has no work, cannot study, what can he or she do? A life of delinquency, falling into drug abuse, or even into suicide... The first thing we have to do to stop a young person from being recruited is education and work."

He called poverty in Kenya a "new form of colonialization" and emphasized the importance of clean water:

"Our world has a grave social debt toward the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity."

He hailed Uganda's response to welcoming half a million refugees Somalia, Sudan and the Congo:

"The world is witnessing an unprecedented migration of peoples. I want to thank Uganda for its generosity in welcoming refugees."

He honored the 45 Anglican and Catholic martyrs who died as a result of religious persecution in Uganda between 1885 and 1887:

"They remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, and continue to play, in the cultural, economic and political life of this country."

He urged the Central African Republic's Christian and Muslim factions to make peace:

"To all those who unjustly use weapons in this world, I appeal: Put down your weapons of death; arm yourselves instead with justice, love, mercy and authentic guarantees of peace."

He called on Muslims and Christians in the Central African Republic to act as brothers and sisters:

"Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters.... Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Malaka Gharib is deputy editor and digital strategist of Goats and Soda, NPR's global health and development blog. She reports on topics such as the humanitarian aid sector, gender equality, and innovation in the developing world.
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