In a time of violence and political turmoil in the Central African Republic, the Catholic Church has become a â€œplace of refugeâ€ and a model for â€œa different way of living together based on solidarity and justice.â€
Fr. DieudonnÃ© Nzapalainga, the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Bangui, told Aid to the Church in Need that when he travels he continually hears about how the Church is making an impact.
â€œ(P)eople say to me over and over again: you give us new hope.â€
His archdiocese focuses on developing and strengthening Christian congregations, with an emphasis on pastoral care of families, education and providing better medical care.
The priests live among the congregations and serve as the peopleâ€™s first contact in times of trouble.
Political conflict continues in the country and rebel groups from neighboring countries control some regions.
Pastors themselves can fall victims to violence, but most of the population treats clergy and religious with great respect.
â€œIn a broken society such as we are currently experiencing in our country, the Church does not replace the state. But it is the Churchâ€™s task to aid the people, support the families and give them hope,â€ Fr. Nzapalainga said.