Tense Christian-Muslim relations provide backdrop to Pope's Africa trip

lunes 23 de noviembre de 2015 06:08 GYT

* Pope making first trip to Africa

* Stop in Central African Republic still in doubt

* Growing fault line between Christians and Muslims on continent

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Pope Francis' first Africa trip will highlight the problems of building dialogue between Christianity and Islam as both religions grow fast on the continent, threatening to widen an already volatile fault line there between them.

The three countries on the pope's Nov. 25-30 itinerary - Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic - have been scarred by radical Islamist attacks or Muslim-Christian sectarian strife and security concerns have meant the trip has been kept relatively short.

With the backdrop, too, of the bloody attacks by Islamist militants in France and Mali, the pope's top advisers readily acknowledge the difficulties of conducting dialogue between Catholics and other Christian churches and Muslims.

"How can you dialogue with this mentality? ... There is no dialogue with extremists. Look at what they do," said Cardinal Robert Sarah, who is from Guinea in West Africa and one of the highest-ranking African officials at the Vatican.

Bishops in Sudan, which for decades was divided between the mostly Muslim north and the south where there are many Christians, have often said Christians there are considered "less than a dog ... firewood to be a burned", said Sarah, speaking in Rome on Friday.   Continuación...