“We presented an invitation for a visit to the Sahel region, which is facing many difficulties. We are certainly giving priority to Burkina Faso but it is all the people of the Sahel region who are suffering.”
– Archbishop Paul Ouédraogo
President of Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger
Writing for La Croix Africa, journalist, Alexandre Le Grand Rouamba, brings news of an invitation to Pope Francis by President Kaboré of Burkina Faso to visit the Sahel region, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Saint John Paul II.
The Society of African Missions will do all that we can to encourage such a visit by the Holy Father as it would provide him with the opportunity to advocate for Africa’s Green Green Wall, a trans-continental project inspired by former President of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara.
During a recent visit to Rome, the bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger renewed their invitation to Pope Francis to visit the Sahel region.
Upon their return, the bishops met with Burkina Faso President Kaboré following their June 14 general assembly.
Local church and political authorities first invited Pope Francis in 2016 to visit Burkina Faso.
“We presented an invitation for a visit to the Sahel region, which is facing many difficulties,” Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger president Archbishop Paul Ouédraogo told La Croix Africa. “We are certainly giving priority to Burkina but it is all the people of the Sahel region who are suffering,” he said.
In order to be accepted by the Vatican, an invitation from the president of the republic is also required and this has already been obtained.
Nathalie Bouda from Moukassa parish in the Diocese of Koudougou said she hopes she will now have a chance to see the pope. Speaking to La Croix Africa she commented: “We remember the two visits to our country by Pope John Paul II,” she said. “We still remember all the good that this did for our people. I am convinced that Pope Francis will look favorably on the request from Burkina Faso.”
Henri Kanou, another local Catholic, said such a visit would prove to be a great opportunity for the people. “It would revive our faith,” he said.
Some Catholics are also thinking of requesting Masses for this intention.
“It would not be an exaggeration for Masses to be celebrated for a positive response to the invitation to visit Burkina Faso,” said Samuel Ouédraogo, a catechist. “A papal visit would help heal hearts and create bonds of fraternity, solidarity and tolerance of our neighbors.”
“We will know by 2019 whether we will have the opportunity to host him,” added Archbishop Ouédraogo.
Burkina Faso’s president previously expressed a desire to host Pope Francis during an audience with the pope on Oct. 20, 2016.
The pope expressed his gratitude to the head of state and said he was pleased to know that Burkina Faso is a living example of religious tolerance.
During his second visit to Burkina Faso in January 1990, Pope John Paul II invited the whole Church, particularly laypeople “to work for the renewal that Burkina Faso is experiencing to be based on respect for the human person and the family.”
During this visit, he also launched a heartfelt appeal for the Sahel region, which often falls prey to drought.
Some time later, the John Paul II Foundation for Sahel was created. To learn more about the foundation, you may click here.